Singer, Rach Brennan

I was blown away when I heard Rach Brennan and the Pines play at the Worker’s Club Geelong in late July. It wasn’t only the vibrant, jaunty, infectious songs that had the whole place moving; it was something else. Watching Rach I was reminded of what was special about seeing Martha Wainwright perform as part of the Melbourne Zoo’s Twilight series. Again, here was a musician, an artist, so true to themself that there was no other way they could be. No trying or pretension involved. Just them immersed in the music, presenting their inner self through their art. It was mesmerizing. I wanted to find out more.

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Rach has been playing music since an early age. As a kid she scribbled lyrics and put them to Aqua backing tracks. She loved the idea of writing and performing songs. She grew up in a musical family in Geelong and spent time as a child in a small town in Ireland. Her Grandfather, was a renowned Jazz pianist, a prolific performer who played 18 gigs in the weekend before he passed away recently.

But it wasn’t until her final years of high school when Rach met Will Gardner of Famous Will that she thought she might actually be able to accomplish her dream of performing music. Will was the first person, outside of family and friends, who told her she was good. Her brother Liam, the bass player in Rach Brennan and the Pines, was already playing regular gigs. Rach started performing around town with Will and her confidence grew.

She began studying music at  Oxygen College in 2011 and gained a Diploma of Music, a Diploma of Sound Production and a Certificate IV in Music Business. She went on to study music at the Australian College of the Arts in Melbourne.

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She loves playing locally in Geelong and the Surf Coast and finds it’s an incredibly supportive community with a lot of opportunity to practice the necessary stagecraft. ‘Playing locally is advantageous in that you get the chance to collaborate with some brilliant musicians, you tend to know everyone.’

Rach teaches classroom music at the Surf Coast Secondary College one day a week and mentors with the Bluebird Foundation, an arts based program that strives to build stronger communities through involvement in the arts. She worked closely with a mentee who suffered from mental illness, helping her develop her songs and musical ability. Rach performed at the Bluebird Foundation showcase in May, at the Courthouse. This year the Bluebird Foundation has a focus on homelessness. (See our previous story on the Bluebird Foundation)

‘I can see myself working in the music industry and educating young people on how to do the same,’ she explains. Rach would like to show young people that it’s not that hard and that there are jobs in the industry.

One of the highlights of her career up till now was playing at Queenscliff Music Festival in 2016 and playing on the Blues Train in Queenscliff. Rach Brennan and the Pines were awarded an Emerging Artist’s Grant from the Queenscliff Music Festival, which assisted them to record their forthcoming album. Rach feels ‘so lucky to work with the people in the band … working with them is a highlight of life,’ she laughs, eyes shining.

When asked what Rach Brennan might be doing in ten years, ‘headlining Glastonbury,’ she laughs, then quips, ‘might have the album out.’ Afterwards, I realize it’s a big leap considering she’s only twenty-three. But earlier she told me that ultimately, she’d love to be a female presence in the Australian music scene, to have enough recognition to tour comfortably and ‘to get cool shows out of it.’

We went out to take some photos on her brother’s front porch in West Geelong. Rach plays part of a song and poses on our instruction and I come away fairly certain that that dream is not too far off.

Rach Brennan will be performing live at the #humansingeelongexpo Sunday October 8th, Deakin Waterfront Campus. For more information about the Expo or our event page.

Written by Tina Cartwright. Top photo: Lucinda Goodwin Photography  Lower photo: Tina D Cartwright