Imagine the sound and spirit of female-led bands like Go-Gos or the Pretenders, with a singer whose energy and voice can be compared to artists like Avril Lavigne or Skillet’s Jen Ledger, and you’ve got something approaching the sound of Lunchbox Rachel. Lunchbox Rachel is a Midwestern singer-songwriter whose sound decidedly leans into modern indie-rock, but whose unusually broad musical background makes her more than just another Nashville hopeful.
Rachel’s first significant exposure to Music City came in 2017 at NAMM, via a booth staffing assignment with equipment manufacturer RockRabbit Guitars. She moved to town shortly after, bringing her degree in vocal performance (emphasis on opera and classical music) and production experience with America’s oldest music festival, the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. But first things first: Where does the “Lunchbox Rachel” name come from?
“I, like many children in the ‘90s, was named Rachel, I think because of the show Friends,” she said. “There were, like, three Rachels at my daycare and it was always super-confusing, and I always had cool lunchboxes, so they called me Lunchbox Rachel.”
Her sound, which hints at a little modern country influence but is propelled by live rock drums, is as much as anything a product of the FM rock that has long informed the musical tastes of the Heartland. “I grew up in the Chicagoland area,” she said, “and there’s always been a pretty solid rock scene, so the sound of my childhood is very much like classic rock – big Journey fan, big Van Halen fan, Aerosmith, and I think that’s what I’ve always gravitated back to. When I really needed music to get me through something I listened to a lot of those songs.”
Since she knew she wanted to do music for a career, Rachel decided to attack the more cerebral and practical aspects of the vocalizing craft at the university level. “I got into opera because I didn’t know how to read or write music,” the mezzo-soprano said, “and I also thought I could branch off into any genre from a classical background, but not necessarily the other way around. I got into it and I liked it, I thought it was interesting and got my degree in it. Now I can write the music that I have in my head down on paper. So it worked out really well. I don’t always get as involved in it as I used to, but I write out full scores for certain stuff. Surprisingly, my degree is still pertinent to what I’m still doing.”
Rachel’s latest self-written single on the streaming platforms is “Timelines,” a song about the deadlines imposed upon us by ourselves and our societies. She performs all the backgrounds as well as lead vocals on her tunes. Her own playlist currently includes Grammy-nominated Italian rock band Maneskin, but not just because she’s a rocker. “My background’s in opera so I enjoy listening to music in other languages,” she said. “It’s a little dorky of me, but I think it’s interesting to listen to music that you can’t understand what they’re saying because it turns the over-analyzing part of my brain off and just lets me enjoy it.”
Highly active in her DIY promotion, Lunchbox Rachel has some 55,000 followers on TikTok alone. “I think it’s a balance,” she said, discussing using the internet vs. knocking on the few remaining unlocked Music Row doors in search of a break. “I think you reach a lot of publishers and record labels through social media anyway, so I think the in-person contact – not that there’s anything wrong with that – is okay, but today it has to be a combination of a lot of different angles.”
You can find her at the usual socials and at lunchboxrachel.com.