Better Off Without - EP

Rachel Chinouriri

Better Off Without - EP

On the cover of Rachel Chinouriri’s second EP, the South London singer-songwriter stands triumphant in front of a bright blue sky. And yet, next to her, the EP’s title, Better Off Without, hints at something less sunny that lies beneath the surface. It’s a neat summation of what you can expect from this EP’s four tracks. These are bright and often breezy indie-pop songs, but they also reveal the story arc of a painful breakup. “I find it hard to write about happy things, but I still sometimes like happy-sounding music,” Chinouriri tells Apple Music. “I think that’s where the juxtaposition of my music comes in. The instrumentals don’t give it away, but the lyrics definitely give away what I’m feeling.” The EP is a gear shift from 2021’s Four° in Winter, a darker, more insular and experimental body of work. But returning to the lighter sound of her earlier music has brought Chinouriri—a 2021 nominee for The Ivors Rising Star Award with Apple Music—closer to where she wants to be. “When I first started releasing music, I was very indie,” she says. "But it was strange: I kept being called hip-hop and soul and stuff, and it was really confusing. I tried to maybe accommodate myself a bit more. I loved so many elements of Four° in Winter, and I think it definitely represents how I was feeling at the time. I was in a dark place and feeling a bit undermined. But now I’m in a place where I’m happier. I’m free, I’m myself, and I’m flourishing the most.” Read on as Chinouriri dives deeper into the stories and sounds behind each song on her special EP. “All I Ever Asked” “At the time I wrote this song, I was in a relationship that I didn’t feel like I was getting my full fulfillment from. I felt like I was always asking for very simple and small things, and they would just never, ever happen. But also, when you’re in a relationship, you don’t really want to throw your partner under the bus, so I think I had a lot of self-denial. My best friend called me, and she had just gone through a breakup. Everything I was feeling deep down, I managed to translate through her. I love dancing to [this song] onstage. I had a lot of dark-sounding songs at that moment, so I was like, ‘OK, let’s make this one a little bit happier-sounding, despite the lyric.’” “Happy Ending” “This song is kind of me conflicting with myself about an apology for my ex. To him, I’ve broken his heart and I’ve ended something which was happy for him. But to me, he ended it because I couldn’t continue with how he was. I felt like I was robbed of the happy ending. When I was four or five, my mum used to play a lot of tribal music or African a cappella music, and harmony is one thing which I really feel deeply inside of me. And when I was writing ‘Happy Ending,’ I wanted to make harmonies underneath the chorus to heighten the feeling that I was having. Your heart really breaks even though the instrumental sounds quite cheery, in a way.” “Better Off Without” “As much as I love happy-sounding songs, I always say in the studio, ‘Too much joy is not good.’ When I was making this song, it was kind of the point in the breakup where I started feeling resentment, the point where it’s like, ‘How could you do this to me?’ It was like, ‘I care too much for you. You don’t care for me. And I guess we’ll just be better off without each other.’ That was the message I was trying to convey.” “Fall Right Out of Love” “It started as an acoustic song, and it was definitely a reflection of the entire relationship. It was a bumpy ride, and it’s a very hard one to sing. Even when I do it live, it’s painful. In ‘Fall Right Out of Love,’ I was confused, not with my sound, but with the love and the situation. I reflected that in the production. A way for me to express how I feel is definitely musical and writing lyrics. Just condensing stuff into a song really helps.”

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