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Side Hustle: More than Getting By

Emerging local musician Rachel Hickey has been “dreaming and scheming” her debut EP, Getting By since October 2020 and it’s finally ready to be heard. 

That quote is one of many clever, catchy lyrics you’ll soon have stuck in your head from the raw and vulnerable tracks she’s laid down, which will be available on all streaming platforms in early October 2021.

“The inspiration behind [Getting By] came from an old song I discovered right at the beginning of the pandemic called “I’ll Get By” by Nick Lucas. It was written right before the Great Depression and it was really popular because it had this weird, optimistic sound that still felt melancholic and fitting for the times,” Hickey said.

“To me, it just really expresses that feeling of you know, ‘despite it all, I’ll get by’. I decided I wanted to write a song like that, because a global pandemic had just http://hit…and yet, I still wanted to be optimistic. It’s who I am,” she said.

The project quickly became something of a saving grace for Hickey during the year’s challenging times as she navigated her new full-time job as an events coordinator for the University of Waterloo (UW) and kept up with her freelance writing projects through it all.

“Music has always been a huge part of my life…I’ve turned to it as a coping mechanism ever since I was a kid. I started singing in church and in choirs pretty much as soon as I could talk. I’ve always had that passion,” Hickey said.

“It’s finally coming to fruition now at 24 and it feels so natural. Like [releasing original music] was always in the back of my mind, this was always going to happen, it was just a matter of time.”

Brimming with energy and creative ideas, she often found it hard to focus on one passion at a time. But music was the thing that always stayed; it really fulfills her. 

“I’m a person who is always doing a million things at once. Playing music is the one thing that just makes the clock disappear. I can get so fixated on a tune that I can’t stop until I finish it. In those moments, nothing else matters and that feeling is really rare for me,” said Hickey.

While she’s always had an incredible voice and unique talent, it was during her final years of university that Hickey found herself really tuned in to her work as a solo musician. During that time she sang with and led multiple acapella groups, and became a top eight finalist in a Canadian singer-songwriter competition called The Shot, while also writing and performing with her band, Midnight Shift.

“I’ve always loved to entertain people and perform. When I first started exploring my style, I tried doing this jazz-pop kind of thing. At the same time, I was playing alternative prog-rock with my band. None of it really fit me exactly as a solo artist, but when the pandemic hit, I had all the time in the world to really lean in and figure out my own sound,” Hickey said. 

Today, she would classify her sound as folk-focused, undercut by indie, pop and rock. Some of her biggest influences are artists like Laura Marling, Phoebe Bridgers and Andy Shauf those who write songs that tell lyrical stories. As a natural born storyteller, that style of songwriting is one of Hickey’s favourite avenues of self expression.

“It’s really important to me that my music comes across as very genuine and authentic to who I am as an artist. I want people to know that you can feel sad and you can feel shame, but you can also be true to who you are and be so powerful within that. It’s okay to show that side of you it’s a strength,” she said.

Now that she’s ready to spill her guts to the world, as she has phrased it in her bio online, she has a lot of great advice to share with other artists and creatives, starting with the fact that you shouldn’t push away the encouragement people give you. She added that it’s essential to give yourself compassion throughout your process and trust in it to believe in your ‘why’ and the fact that no one else is creative in the same way that you’re creative. That said, it’s equally important to work with other artists and expose your creative vision to new heights.

“Creativity feels good. It’s both a way to find a sense of accomplishment on a personal level and a way to connect with the outside world in a really meaningful way. That’s my ‘why’,” she said. 

To support Rachel, follow her on Instagram @racheljhickey and visit her website to subscribe to her newsletter and stay up to date on the release and all the exciting announcements to come about her music.

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Jenna is an artist, freelance writer and programming coordinator working in KW’s tech industry. When she’s not working, you can find Jenna singing around town, picking through the poetry section of used book stores or soaking up the sun whenever she has the chance.