Getting to Know the Rainbow Girls


Vanessa May, Erin Chapin, and Caitlin Gowdey are three exceptionally talented musicians who have bonded together in friendship and are making some beautiful sounds together.  They call themselves the Rainbow Girls and their stellar musicianship and angelic voices blend together to impress and entertain all who are lucky enough to see them perform or listen to their music. The band was formed in California but they have traveled across the country and across that large pond called the Atlantic to play abroad.  There was a great buzz about the Rainbow Girls at this year’s Folk Alliance International Conference in New Orleans.

Find out more about the Rainbow Girls at their website.

Here’s a taste of the Rainbow Girls singing their song “Can We Keep This Love Alive”?

This video of the Rainbow Girls covering the BeeGees is just too much fun not to show here.  Enjoy “How Deep Is Your Love.”

Give The People What They Want was released earlier this year; it contains covers of 10 songs. How did you choose the songs for this album?

Caitlin: We just went with the songs that people have been requesting for years. We went through the most requested and chose the ones we love that we’ve also been playing for a while, that way we could bang it all out in the one day of studio time we had and still love what we made.

What song speaks most to you on this album?

Caitlin: My favorite tune on the record is “Elvis Presley Blues,” which is originally by Gillian Welch. I think she’s a folk goddess walking amongst the humans, and the song is such a touchingly depressing song about legends and their loneliness. I’m also a sucker for ‘verbed out bedroom vibes, so I love how the recording turned out.

When did you first become involved in music?

Vanessa: If we are choosing to start at the very beginning, I was always one of the rosy-cheeked child angels singing in the holiday choir. Beyond that I had basic music training as a kid. I stepped away from music after a negative experience with a teacher and promptly forgot every ounce of music theory I had learned. Once in college, I returned to it with more focus and intention.

Caitlin: There was a lot of music in our house growing up, my dad played guitar and I plunked around on a lovely woman’s piano when I was little until I was defeated by “The Entertainer” and stopped playing. I was mesmerized with the idea of being in a band after an older girl at a day camp gave me a cassette tape of “Dookie” by Green Day and I had my dad teach me some guitar chords. Piano edged itself back into the picture through my obsession with learning movie soundtracks, and once I found my grandpa’s old accordion in his attic it was all over.

Erin: I started playing music as a kid, but society quickly taught me that I couldn’t ever do it seriously. It wasn’t until college when my family went through a pretty traumatic change, that I realized I couldn’t waste my life pursuing other avenues, feigning interest in subjects I really didn’t care about. It was then that I dove unabashedly into music and haven’t looked back since.

Tell us about your experience busking and performing throughout Europe and how that impacted your music.

Caitlin: Busking through Europe taught us how to not miss trains, how to sleep at strangers’ houses and live with a backpack. And by backpack I mean an old soft shell guitar case stuffed with jackets and old oranges. And by live I mean run after trains.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?

Caitlin: My advice is to be authentic, work hard, and teach yourself by listening to albums and musicians you love. Never underestimate the power of YouTube lessons. I think there’s a pretty overwhelming amount of competition out there right now, but don’t worry about being perfect- people just want to see a moment, it’s all about the overall energy – give people something real. Get weird. Always push yourself to get better and try to surprise people with your badassery. Oh also don’t write songs about sunsets and the ocean. Or whatever, fuck it, do what you want!

Vanessa: Gather a bad ass and loving team, have clear vision, practice, be kind to yourself and other people.”- Vanessa

Your video of “Down Home Girl” went viral on social media which you identified as a game changer. Share with us how life as a band has changed since that video was released.

Caitlin: Things exploded a bit for us in the land of the internet, which completely blind-sided us as we only learned the song about a half hour before we made the video and had no idea how many people would end up seeing it. We get a lot more messages and interest from around the world, we paired up with a booking agency, and a lady recognized me once in an airport bathroom, so it’s been great.

As a band, what is your songwriting and collaborative process and the inspiration for your music?

Caitlin: Hooo boy, “method”! I have a tried & true method that involves a lot of obnoxiously repetitive practicing that I’m sure my housemates love, studying favorite artists, messing around with chord progressions, playing real loud when no one’s home and mumbling gibberish into voice memos. When something comes out that I don’t hate after the idea honeymoon fades in a few days, I’ll bring it to the rest of the band. Every once and a while, a song will write itself in about 3 minutes, and there is much rejoicing.

Musical influences?

Caitlin: I grew up on a steady diet of classic rock, punk, soul, and Weird Al Yankovic. Also the smooth jams of Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 1. I never know how to answer this question. Really into Brittany Howard‘s new record, “Jaime” right now.

Erin: My favorite music is usually stuff that was originally released on vinyl or cassette first. Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Nina Simone are my favorite performers; Bessie Smith and Jeff Buckley have my favorite voices; while Levon Helm and John Vandiver are my all-time favorite musicians. I grew up with my parents listening to Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and The Beatles so they’re definitely in there influencing me too.

Vanessa: There is inspiration to be found all over the place, but I almost always return to soul, folk, and music rooted in blues.


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