“Life is short but time is very slow”: Rachel Chinouriri Reflects on a Captivating, Vulnerable, & Healing Debut

What A Devastating Turn Of Events - Rachel Chinouriri
What A Devastating Turn Of Events - Rachel Chinouriri © Yana Van Nuffel
British singer/songwriter Rachel Chinouriri discusses the emotional ups and downs of her long awaited debut album ‘What a Devastating Turn of Events.’
Stream: ‘What a Devastating Turn of Events’ – Rachel Chinouriri

There’s a degree of nostalgia in the music; I want the songs to sound like you have heard them before.

Sporting a black Babylon sweatshirt, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter sits comfortably hunched back in an armchair.

Even amidst the frustration of technical Zoom difficulties, Rachel Chinouriri is radiating a relaxed aura. Her speech is clear, her words are friendly, and her demeanor is vulnerable: “This is the calmest I’ve felt in a while. Last week was a bit down.”

When pondering What a Devastating Turn of Events (May 3, 2024 via Elektra / Parlophone), my mind can’t help but revolve around one word: Vulnerability. There’s a rare level of transparency Rachel Chinouriri has managed to craft on her debut album. The artist opens up about her harshest anxieties, personal loss, doubts about her physical appearance, and the empty after effects of failed relationships. Putting her insecurities on full display, Rachel Chinouriri radiates a brave and immersive authenticity that is tangible and completely relatable, creating an experience that is sure to stick with listeners for years to come.

What A Devastating Turn Of Events - Rachel Chinouriri
What A Devastating Turn of Events – Rachel Chinouriri
I overthink the things I say
Get out to push a fling up
Maybe I’m oversharin’
I’m the one in the dark
when no one else’s left

I can’t release, I can’t
– “Garden of Eden,” Rachel Chinouriri

Though Devastating Turn is billed as a debut, it is not Chinouriri’s first major release. After garnering online buzz in 2018, she signed with Parlophone Records which resulted in the release of her first major single “So My Darling,” a beautiful love song from Chinouriri’s teenage years. Then followed 2 EPs: Mama’s Boy and Four° in Winter, both released to major critical acclaim. Fans fell in love with the singer’s warm, alluring vocals and her concise and emotionally poignant songwriting. Chinouriri’s potential was through the roof. A star was in the making.

Rachel Chinouriri © Lauren Harris
Rachel Chinouriri © Lauren Harris

Chinouriri’s notoriety skyrocketed in early 2022 after her most recognizable single, “So My Darling” began making rounds on TikTok, escalating her social media numbers to an all-time high.

Being a 22-year-old Gen Z-er at the time, Chinouriri spoke fondly of her rise in popularity: “I broke out at an age where I was okay doing the work and being viral. I would be online a lot, sometimes 12 hours a day because I had the time for it.”

Leave it to the phenomenon that is the TikTok algorithm to popularize a song five years after its release. If nothing else, this proved Chinouriri’s music had mass appeal and longevity. Yet, when asked about any plans for future virality, the artist calmly replied, “If it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen.”

Internet fame is exciting, but Rachel Chinouriri seems focused on the future; she’s obsessed with the speed in which she is growing. The singer wants to live naturally and focus on making a great product: “Trust the music. Trust the process.”

Rachel Chinouriri © Lauren Harris
Rachel Chinouriri © Lauren Harris

Within the vast expanse of Rachel Chinouriri’s mind lies an urgent need to express, yet the power of the artist’s work lies in its brevity.

“I say what needs to be said and keep it to the point. A lot like ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay,” she admits. Building on the shoulders of its inspiriters, What a Devastating Turn of Events is an album that is wholly vivid yet incredibly concise in its composition. Even at her most introspective, the artist finds a way to get to the emotional core of her message and the result is glamorous.

Chinouriri’s songs sit in the pocket of a listenable 3 – 4 minutes; perfect for streaming and/or radio play. She mentions having experimented with song lengths when she was younger. However, having a keen eye for current trends, the singer knew she had to adjust; “Artists like PinkPantheress came around with 1.5 to 2 minute songs. The industry adapted to the shorter songs so I think my writing process changed with that naturally.”

I hate me
Count yourself lucky
they can’t see you’re ugly
But maybe I should close
all the curtains absorbing the burdens
I’ve made up in my head
And keep me in my bed
You can’t blame me
– “My Blood,” Rachel Chinouriri

In tandem with the lyrics, the album’s instrumental compositions are crafted with an equal level of thoughtfulness.

Tracks like “I Hate Myself” offer instrumentals which elevate the emotional crux of Chinouriri’s storytelling. Reminiscent of In Rainbows era Radiohead, a thudding drum beat meets light, flickery guitar passages which create a rich backdrop for Chinouriri’s vocals. The song’s striking refrain, “I’m a victim of my mind,” is given plenty of room to resonate while the backdrop of the instrumental seemingly reacts to the urgency of the lyrics; it’s extremely evocative.

Chinouriri draws inspiration from the British pop groups she grew up with while simultaneously dipping into realms of Alternative R&B, Rock, and Art Pop; it’s impressively progressive and cohesive. Songs like “Never Need Me” feature a melancholic pop pastiche while songs like “My Everything” and “Cold Call” feature colorful vocal layers and sunburnt guitars reminiscent of 2000’s indie rock. “There’s a degree of nostalgia in the music; I want the songs to sound like you have heard them before,” the artist confesses.

Toeing the line of new and old, Chinouriri credits much of the album’s sound to producer Rich Turvey who brought an ‘old school’ element to the album. She states, “The music [Rich] grew up working on in his 20’s is the type of music I take inspiration from… We ended up creating a beautiful process of mixing music from his era and music from mine,” and the result is a sound that is familiar yet completely refreshing.

Rachel Chinouriri © Lauren Harris
Rachel Chinouriri © Lauren Harris

I’m obsessed with the speed at which I am growing.

Though What a Devastating Turn of Events is deeply personal, its tone is never overly dramatic or grating; there’s a tangible sense of realism in it all.

Rachel Chinouriri hopes audiences find a healing element in the music: “I wanted to think about all of the time I wasted with relationships and wondered where else I should spend my time and energy. Is it worth the time? Is it true to me? … Life is short but time is very slow.”

In a way, reflecting on her lived experiences creates a space of solace where Chinouriri and the listener can reflect together, and it is through that relatability where the album finds success.

Proud of her growth and pondering the longevity of her career, Rachel Chinouriri maintains her relaxed posture as she reflects on her music. Giving fans a holistic view of yourself is a difficult thing to do, but she smiles in satisfaction at her work: “I’m proud of the album … that’s an up.”

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:: stream/purchase What a Devastating Turn of Events here ::
:: connect with Rachel Chinouriri here ::

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What A Devastating Turn Of Events - Rachel Chinouriri

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