RACHAEL SAGE “No Regrets” Video Premiere – with Web-Exclusive Interview



Video Premiere: NO REGRETS




 15th Album Transcends Alternative-Pop Singer-Songwriter’s Artistic Borders


High cheekbones, brunette tresses adorned with flowers, and an inviting smile suggestive of a kindred artistic spirit, Rachael Sage could be the cool aunt direct from central casting. Boots, jeans, fringes, vibrant colorful dangling accessories and guitar in tow complement the Gotham-based alternative-pop singer-songwriter, producer and record label owner’s Bohemian fashion sense. True to her moniker, Sage offers profound insight on relationships, mortality, the afterlife and transcending obstacles on The Other Side (MPress Records).

M Music & Musicians magazine is proud to present the Video Premiere of Sage’s “No Regrets.”

Sage’s creative borders are ambitious. She is a visual artist, composer of music which fits seamlessly into Americana, alt-folk and pop categories, and former ballet dancer who has pirouetted with the New York City Ballet. A self-confessed night owl, Sage is a film and television suspense genre aficionado. In the early 2000s, she launched her own record label MPress Records, and since that time has consistently created and released albums which have garnered critical acknowledgement and praise. As a live music performer, Sage has toured with Ani DiFranco, Beth Hart, Howard Jones and Grammy winners Shawn Colvin and Judy Collins. Along with her band The Sequins, Sage has made a global impression from Japan to Berlin. Invested in humanitarian efforts, she has raised money for WHY Hunger, American Refugee Committee, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, and National Network for Youth (NN4Y). Sage is a John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize winner and six-time Independent Music Awards- winning musician and producer.

The Other Side might be best described as the pages of an intimate diary put on public display, complete with secret decoder ring. 

Recorded in 2022, around back-to-back tours with UK-based pop artist Howard Jones and Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May, and produced by Sage with engineers Mikhail Pivovarov and Grammy winner Andy Zulla, The Other Side is Sage’s follow-up to 2020’s Character and 2021’s Poetica. The Other Side might be best described as the pages of an intimate diary put on public display, complete with secret decoder ring. The title of Sage’s 15th album is highly evocative and as eclectic as the artist herself, with an appellation that serves as a multiple entendre—calling to mind polarities: opposing political ideologies, physical borders that separate one group from another and a thinly-pierced veil that serves as the ultimate room divider between life and death or the afterlife.

“Whistle Blow,” the LP’s opening track, conjures up visions of an ethereal dreamscape, musically, while the lyrical content explores harsher realities “You look me up and down, you tell me like it is, you’re not afraid to cry, you’re not afraid to kiss.” The song seems to weave between two worlds—the perfection offered in slumber threatened by the sting of waking hours.

“Flowers for Free” is a tailor-made alt-pop gem which is contagious on the first listen. An organ, string and brass section provide the upbeat tempo and depth. Words like ritual and cynical open the doors as to whether this song is about a committed relationship or death.

“The Other Side” is the title song and centerpiece of the album for Sage and it helped the project evolve. It contains all of the themes she was curating, via the rest of the track-list, but in the one piece. In that sense, it was definitely the track that helped Sage define the overall attitude and arc of the album. The phrase itself and lyric “Hope you will be with me,” can be interpreted so many ways, but listeners have shared with her that it calls to mind the afterlife, mortality, as well as the broader sense of transcending obstacles.

Sage was thinking a lot about the concept of forgiveness when she wrote it, and how easily women apologize all too frequently for simply taking up space. Pensively, she reflects, “I have been a chronic people-pleaser most of my life, and it’s really a kind of disease (or rather, dis-ease), that can lead one down so many dangers and overwhelming paths. The overriding emotion I hoped to convey by the end of the song was a joyful freedom, where love manifests as complete, unconditional acceptance. I am fortunate to have more than a handful of truly wonderful close friends, and in many ways, I credit those friendships with my ability to write this particular song. No matter who else may come and go, judge or criticize us, we truly have each other’s backs—and within the safety of friendship, and in spite of distance, are free to be entirely ourselves; it’s a feeling of comfort and grounded-ness, for which I’m endlessly grateful.”

“Only You” juxtaposes a cheery chorus with the possibility of unrequited love.

“The Place of Fun” offers a glimpse at a magical world. Strings accentuate the frivolity associated with this spiritual retreat.

“Rebecca” was produced very differently from the other songs on the album. Sage first wrote it on acoustic guitar and performed it as part of her friend Rebecca’s 50th birthday party on Zoom. It was just Sage and her guitar, super folky and simple. Somewhere along the way, the song morphed into a big summer rock anthem, like Bryan Adam’s “Summer Of ’69,” and Sage just went with it. Sage calls “Rebecca” definitely the biggest, most rocking track on the record and was fun to let loose on with her band.

“No Regrets” is a love letter to life, which references the highly philosophical question why—along with everyday pleasures like “old Chevys, blue Corvettes, ice cream floats, skipping stones, and singing out loud with Beatles’ tunes.” It is heartfelt and sure to elicit an emotional response from those who hear it. The song was inspired from a poem written by her father, who Sage credits for her love of music and joie de vivre. This collaboration between father and daughter is the ultimate homage to gratitude. Both intimate and universal in theme, “No Regrets” offers thanks for the many little things that define a life in all of its beautiful and aching joy.

Opening up about the personal song, Sage sets the scene, “‘No Regrets’ is the first song I’ve ever written based on someone else’s poem, and that someone happened to be my wonderful dad. He had written a few poetic lines on a little notepad while he was recovering from a very serious illness, and they were so touching to me that I didn’t ask for permission. I just started immediately setting them to music. Thankfully his health returned fully in a few months, due in large part to music—which he enjoys so much and was absolutely a major part of his healing. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who enjoys music more than my dad, especially ‘the oldies’ and songs that take him back to a more innocent time. I asked him what other things he’d like me to include in the song that inspired him the most and the list was much longer than I could ever incorporate. But ultimately, he was very pleased that I focused on his friendships, his affection for ping-pong and Loretta Lynn, and his strong penchant for rhyming.”

Sage will never forget the moment when her father shared his poem “No Regrets” with her, because it was just as he was coming through a challenging period of treatment for lymphoma, during the COVID-19 pandemic. He had been dealing with some pretty intense medical treatments. As a cancer survivor herself, Sage understands how that kind of trial can rattle even the most upbeat, positive personality. But throughout his experience, there were many beautiful moments of romantic nostalgia where he’d reflect on childhood memories and defining relationships with friends and to his musical idols—and it was quite inspiring to witness how these joyful reflections helped him transcend and effectively heal. Being such a huge music lover, Sage knew that her father would enjoy his poem being turned into a song—and she readied it quickly so she was able to sing it for him in person at his next birthday. Sage sums up the experience as a pretty neat trick to be able to say to a parent: “Guess what? We cowrote a song together!”—and to have it be a complete surprise!

“No Regrets” features Jack Petruzzelli (Patti Smith) on guitar and Russ Johnson (Elvis Costello) on trumpet. Sage elaborates on the contributions of other musicians on the track and what unique elements they brought to the table: “Petruzzelli is a longtime member of the Fab Faux—one of the best Beatles tribute bands in the world. His sensibility is so effortlessly retro and his guitar tones always bring the 60s and 70s to mind. So it was perfect casting as I wanted this track to have an ‘Early Elton’ [John] feel.

As a wonderful songwriter and producer himself, who’s also worked extensively with Joan Osborne (whose music I adore), Jack always brings something surprising sonically, but likewise he’s used to working with composers like myself who might ask him to play a specific melody but to ‘make it his own.’ That’s always the goal: to have everyone who plays on my music bring a part of their own personality and character to the mix, and that’s also what Russ Johnson always does—just by nature of having such a distinctive voice on the trumpet. He and I have worked together so many years in the studio, as well as live, and as a jazz musician his ability to imbibe even the simplest riff with soul and emotion always blows my mind. If I had to pick one word to describe his playing, as well as his temperament, it would be Zen. He’s just incredible—laid-back, insightful and cool!”

“Albatross” eloquently expresses an existential crisis. Sage sings, “I am so tangled like clinging ivy, grasping for truth where there is none.”

“Deepest Dark” is a song Sage wrote as a teenager, and because it was created so many years ago, she honestly has no recollection of how it came to be. The most recent time she played it was about 25 years ago. It was fun for Sage to discover the song on a cassette her mom found in her basement. When Sage listened to it all these years later with fresh ears, she really felt that the lyric sounded like the adolescent friendships at the heart of the show Stranger Things, with which she’d become a bit obsessed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

While the song had never really fit on any of Sage’s prior albums, she felt the words reflected the sense of reaching across distance and transcending time and space—that so many people could relate to after being physically separated from their loved-ones for so long. Sage’s band The Sequins helped breathe new life into it, and together they improvised during the instrumental sections, which was such a pleasure after not having anyone else to play with for so many months.

“Butterflies at Night” is a haunting track worthy of placement in a David Lynch film soundtrack or an episode of Twin Peaks.

“Forgive Me This” is an apologetic and remorseful love song which could serve as a counter piece to Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.”

“Breathe” is a song of ultimate surrender. The piano and guitar parts paint a vast empty space. “Whenever I’m alone and you’re lost out there, feel you breathe because our lungs we share. When I’m alone anytime anywhere, feel your heart beat because our blood we share,” and “I will let you breathe through me,” are direct lyrics without much wiggle room for interpretation.

“I Made a Case” features Howard Jones. Sage has toured with Jones, and he’s been a musical hero of hers. Describing how he made an appearance on the track, Sage says “The amazing thing about asking a hero to perform on your record is that if he/she says yes, it reminds you that to be a consummate artist is to never stop being a real person.

Howard Jones is very collaborate by nature and knowing that, I felt that after we had toured together several times, I had the latitude to politely ask if he might consider singing with me. He had already been very generous with encouragement when I was his support act in the UK and later the US (we were touring together right until lockdown). But it’s because he’s just such a lovely and down-to-earth human being that I felt empowered to ask. Had he said ‘No, I’m just too busy,’ I wouldn’t have taken it at all personally. We have been friends for a bit now, and knowing there is genuine affection removes any sense of ‘risk’ but as the song itself felt like the kind of lyric he would relate to, so I went for it. The song is essentially about two people who love each other but become isolated from one another amidst their respective pain. Howard is all about connection and forging through challenges, so it was interesting ‘casting.’ I found his parts to be so tender and intimate, and I was really touched by the amount of time he spent and the level of detail that went into his performance.”

Recording The Other Side has taught Sage that she doesn’t necessarily need to hyper-focus for long periods of time—i.e. to stop the rest of her life and work—to be creatively productive. As someone with ADHD, traditionally Sage has required that of herself. She opens up further adding, “I tell people in my life ‘OK, I’m going under. Talk to me in a few days—and then I sort of go off the grid and barely come up for air, while crafting a recording that demands a complete immersion. But I didn’t really do that for the bulk of this record. It began as we were easing out of lockdown and I didn’t want to remove myself quite that much from all the other things I wanted and needed to being doing: touring, running my label, making visual art and enjoying a new town and home. So, in many ways this is the first full album I created while actually continuing to live the rest of my life. I did shorter, more frequent sessions instead of long, intense days, and for that reason the album feels a bit more open and relaxed, as a whole. Because I was!”

Rachael Sage has recorded 15 albums to date, and she tends to favor the most recent album when she tours. But her fans always request “Sistersong,” which appeared on two of Sage’s previous albums, in 1998 and 2018. She shares why the song is so important to her and popular with her fans: “It’s a song that reflects female solidarity, and sisterhood in the global sense. I sang it at Lilith Fair, on tour with Ani DiFranco, at my college best friend’s wedding, and recently at an LGBTQ+ community charity benefit. I’ve sung it at Pride Festivals and it’s been used in lyrical dance competitions. At its essence, it allows the listener to project their loving appreciation for the important women and girls in their life. I will probably always play it, because hearing diverse audiences sing along and clap to a song about women supporting one another gives me life!”

Character was Sage’s prior album and reflected her own cancer journey. Speaking about The Other Side Sage, chronicles a collective odyssey we’ve all been on—learning the hard way that we are all connected now more than ever before. She puts the album into perspective, “When my father was suddenly facing a serious illness during lockdown, the whole world was also going through a pandemic. So there was this overarching feeling of every person, every family, every town and country enduring the same challenges of preserving health, enduring isolation and summoning a kind of protective diligence—all against a landscape of increasing sociopolitical tension. No one could relax and it really felt as though we were in a wrestling match with an invisible foe. Ultimately, my father’s resiliency and determination as a patient inspired me to ‘kvetch’ less and be more appreciative of the blessings of family, friends and music.”

“I was not open about my illness when I was going through it, five years ago; I just didn’t feel I could handle the inevitable influx of worry, advice and a certain level of panic that the ‘C-word’ prompts. I needed absolute calm and kept to myself, for the better part of a year, and then shared it publicly afterwards. My dad, on the other hand, spoke to his college buddies every day, and managed to stay very social in the middle of his discomfort. Watching him rise above fear and never lose his joie de vivre was among the most humbling and inspiring things I’ve ever witnessed. Even in the middle of his treatment, he pushed himself to exercise, to eat, to laugh, to listen to music and to stay in touch with friends. Medicine comes in many forms and he intuitively knew he needed to maintain all of those threads to stay encouraged. There are aspects of that approach to a healthy life that apply to all of us, whatever challenges we face. And after several years of social-distancing and lockdown, it feels pretty triumphant to be back in the world, sharing music and catching up with listeners in person again!”

Photos Credit Bill Bernstein

Reminiscing about her teenage years and a moment in her musical journey that continues to inspire, Sage recounts the following event: “When I was in high school, I used to mainly play synthesizers and drum machines. My music was totally different, production-wise, than it is now, but it was still very much a reflection of my personality. One year I decided to compete in our school talent show, and I schlepped my Jupiter-8 synthesizer, TR-505 drum machine and a bunch of other gear to the auditorium—set it up and felt very well prepared to do my thing. When my turn came, the internal battery had unceremoniously died in my synthesizer! The upshot was that all my sounds I’d spent hours programming—were wiped, and I had no idea what to do.”

“I didn’t have a backing track recorded—everything was MIDI back then, and I was just running it live. So I decided to just go to the piano and make up a new arrangement on the spot. I was nervous and frustrated that none of my fancy equipment had cooperated under pressure, but I got through it—and happened to win. The audience was cheering me on more because they were happy I didn’t give up and decided to try again. That was the day I came to understand that it’s about the song, and connecting with an audience. Production and arrangements create a vibe, but from then on, I made damn sure than any song I wrote could be distilled into an acoustic performance. You could say that was the day I abandoned my synth-pop roots, while learning the value of adrenaline.”

The Other Side is available in physical media formats, including vinyl and compact disc. The CD is a trifold with exquisite packaging that highlights Sage’s talents as a visual artist. Opening the packaging is an added treat which brings abstract art beautifully produced on paper sheets—with the album’s song lyrics printed on the other side. According to Sage, “This record encompasses a high and low search for resilience in this broken world. In ‘No Regrets’ I sing ‘I love life in all its aching joy.’ Anyone who has lived through the chaos of the last several years and still manages to get out of bed and out into the world has my admiration. I can’t wait to get back out on the road and hear how everyone triumphed firsthand.” In the meantime, fans can watch official music videos for some of the album’s songs on YouTube—and be captivated by Sage while she weaves her spell.


— by RODEO MARIE HANSON and Merlin David

Fans can get more info and stay updated at:
http://www.rachaelsage.com – the best hub for news updates, tour announcements and Sage’s poetry and artwork.

Rachael Sage always encourages signing up for her email list because she gives good newsletter.
Website: http://www.rachaelsage.com
Facebook: facebook.com/rachaelsagepage
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/rachael_sage
TikTok: www.TikTok.com/@rachaelsage
Twitter (X): www.Twitter.com/rachaelsage
YouTube: youtube.com/rachaelsage

comment closed

Copyright © 2023 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·