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Judge for Rachel Toba

edina, MN
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Portrait of Rachel Toba
It’s always a pleasure to hear an artist emerge that doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been influenced by classic musical figures and genres, but it does have a lot to say when they can take a style, and make it 100% their own. This idea goes for 19 year old Rachel Geller, hailing from Minneapolis. Ms. Geller, has fused Jazz, Blues, Soul, Hip Hop and at times Electronica and created something that you can’t not nod your head when you listen. Geller has yet to come out with an album, but her recordings, and live shows around the Minnesota area are starting to create some serious buzz. On songs like “Cool Down,” Rachel Geller takes her time to while she pours her soul into her words, creating the prefect vibe for anyone with a need for some quality blues. Then however, if you listen to the seductive dance song ”Future Butterfly,” where you’ll get a singer who emanates the likeness of Frou Frou, Beck, and even a little Bjork. Ms. Geller can change her voice, and genre, and yet still maintain her originality and fantastic ability to write incredible lyrics. Whether it’s the neo-soul “The Queen of Block E,” or her duet with Golden on “So Many Ways,” it’s hard to believe a voice and talent like the one you hear, which can easily be the voice of a 30 year old with years of the industry behind her belt, come from a 19 year old. Like fellow soul singer Joss Stone, Geller sounds beyond her years, a talent that can so easily be abused, or in the likes of Stone and Geller, bring a fresh and unique take on a genre that will draw both new and old listeners by the gazillions. Keep an eye out for this seductress of song
-Emil Cohen DEAL Magazin

"What's not to like about Rachel Geller?

By Monsieur Lazer Mous

I first met Ms. Geller at her birthday party, a full fledged warehouse fiasco named "Fish Grease", pulled together in part by Zack, of Kanser fame, and company. It was Zack who had asked if a friend and I would run the door, a fun-filled job that would fall far short as the highlight of my evening. Wondering what could beat out throwing some poor drunk soul down some stairs, I learned the absolute highlight would be the last third of Ms. Geller's performance, which, however brief, was enough to catch that signature style that has been the cause of countless smiles since. Nine months later, still filled with fond memories, I am inclined to make the young siren the subject of my first Neighborhood Watch article

The interview took place at a quaint little ice cream parlor, Sebastian Joe's, on the northern edge of Uptown Minneapolis. Here I joined Ms. Geller relaxing after a long day of waitressing, installed at a small table in the back of the restaurant plugged into laptop and headphones. She gracefully fought the work fatigue, and filled me in on the status of her upcoming album

NW: "So, are U sitting on a ton of material?

Rachel: "No, not really. In the past, I've usually written all my material in the studio.

You can imagine my reaction upon hearing the news that the trademark swaggers of "Cool Down" were improvised. After a breath, I asked Rachel to walk me through her perspective of the enchanting number. "I try to make a lot of self-empowering music, so the perspective in the songs I write come from not just me, but the people I love as well." This comes as no surprise once you hear her talk about anyone close to her. A family-oriented girl, she spoke of how her father's taste in music shaped her interests as far back as she could remember. "From Jazz to Classic Rock, he has always been very diverse. I went through a lot of different phases, especially in high school." It was there, at a performing arts school in Golden Valley Minnesota that our Ms. Geller first started to pursue singing. "I originally went for classical guitar, but almost immediately started to focus on singing.

Mere seconds out of high school, she was doing all sorts of gigs; among them, opening up for all sorts of locals, Ill Chemistry, Brother Ali, as well as Kanser, who were already a staple on the Minneapolis scene. In fact, Kanser were quick to include her in their creative process and on a few tour stops, including Duluth, and the far away Minnesota/North Dakota oasis of Moorhead. "I did a lot of collaborating, writing hooks for different acts. It was a lot of fun." Even now two years down the road, reflecting on those early days caused that smile to be revealed again

NW: "So, give me five words that describe Rachel, the artist.

Rachel: (looking perplexed) "OH, you can't put me on the spot like that! Ummm.... I'll have to get back to you on that one," she said. But it wasn't a long wait before she unknowingly gave me the five words I was looking for. "I-love-bringing-people-together." Her face lit up as we started to talk about her intentions for the future. "I definitely want to throw more parties and events. There's nothing like it.

Next, I asked about her new group endeavor, an impressive bunch, known as Acoustic Beat Down. "Well, it was all Unicus. (Kanser) He quite literally suggested to me that I should be in a group, along with Shiz (Traditional Methods), Muad'dib (Heiruspecs), and Uncle Sam (bass player/producer), who I was already semi-regularly working with. It's been great so far, and we are pushing to have an EP [extended play] finished soon.

"Great" is certainly a word I'd use, concerning either the impressive Acoustic Beat Down debut, or any news about her intentions of finishing an album "hopefully" in early '08. It was an enjoyable ice cream parlor afternoon, with an incredibly talented songstress, who admittedly has "a hard time" thinking of herself as "an artist." In her mind she's just a waitress, who works way too many double shifts

The highlighted afternoon left but one of my many questions unanswered. "What's not to like about Rachel Geller?" We may never know