The Art of Multi-Tasking: An Interview with Rachel Ohnsman

Rachel Ohnsman is not the type of person to work on a single project at a time. As a full-time college student focusing on music, she’s been able to immerse herself not just in her coursework but in her real passions in life.

Ohnsman originally thought she would be spending her college years in New York. While New York is still her dream destination, she ended up getting her undergraduate degree and is currently finishing up her Master’s degree at Frost School of Music in Miami.

She has been lucky enough to delve into three of Frost’s programs; she first focused on classical before realizing it was no longer in her interests, then moved over to jazz and received her undergraduate degree. Now she resides in the contemporary department where she is a teaching assistant for their songwriting program.

“I wanted to go someplace where I could have really enriching musical training and education but also have a normal college experience and study things outside of just that one style of music,” she said. “My coursework has been a little unusual but definitely has lent itself to a variety of different opportunities where I have learned to incorporate different styles.”

While working on her undergrad, she was working on her first album, Lovers. She released the project right after receiving her degree and was able to showcase her jazz-style influences. The creation process was three years in the making, and really gave her the opportunity to explore songwriting - something she wasn’t totally experienced with.

“I was just writing whatever felt good to me at the moment and seeing where that went, which I think is really cool and I like that the album captured that,” she said.

Ohnsman learned a lot during the making of Lovers and is using that knowledge on the two albums she is currently working on. In true fashion of not being able to work on one project at a time, one album is for her Master’s thesis and the other is a project outside of her coursework. She said that both of them are concepts albums leaning more towards pop than jazz and focus on specific themes.

“I know it's crazy of me to do so many things at once and I welcome that,” she said. “I love doing a million things because I think that if I was only doing one thing for the rest of my life I might go crazy, so I definitely want to work in many different aspects of music.”

She recently released her latest single, “Cliche”, after sitting on the concept for a few years. The song originally began as a classic love song, but Ohnsman found the process more forced than organic. She realized she had been focused on trying not to use any cliches in the lyrics and it gave her the idea to take a less serious approach.

It was after releasing the song that she realized “Cliche” was also a goodbye to her jazz-influenced music. Since the song was created a few years ago and never released, she has grown as an artist and finds herself wanting to change her approach. She had such great hopes for the song that she knew she had to rerecord it and release it on her own, and is happy that “Cliche” is the song that sits between her first album and what comes next.

Rachel Ohnsman has so many projects on her to-do list, but she welcomes the challenge. By continuing to search for the next great song, she continues to better herself as a songwriter and musician.