In celebration of her BRITs nominations, we dig out our first meeting with the unique talent.
She’s stunning. She’s incredibly talented. She is Raye. Standing loud and proud at the age of 19, Raye’s roots lie in Croydon where she was raised in a loving Christian home and community. Today, she has sprinted to the top of the UK’s music charts with fire and grace and it’s no wonder. Growing up surrounded by music steeped in spirituality and soul, Raye’s passion towards becoming a musician only intensified with age and experience. “I decided from about the age of 10 that I wanted to be a singer. My parents were always very supportive but did warn me that it would be difficult to make it a reality.” Both Raye’s Dad and Grandad had been in bands so it comes as no surprise that creative blood flows through her veins and into her music; you could say she was born to do this and leave her own mark in the industry.
It didn’t take long for Raye to have her voice and her impeccable songwriting skills to be picked up on the musicradar. In 2014 she released her debut EP, Welcome to the Winter, serving its listeners with sultry, sassy lyrics and vocals which Raye acknowledges artists such as Jhene Aiko and Lauryn Hill as a few of her biggest influences. The track was then picked up on by lyrical genius Nas which you could say kickstarted Raye’s ascension to being the artist she is today. “The fact that Nas picked up on the track was a complete fluke! I wrote the song about a year before with Deputy who produced Rhianna’s ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’. He ended up playing the track to Nate Parker who sent the song over to Nas. He just loved it and wanted to jump on it straight away.”
Since then, a number of artists have recognised Raye’s extraordinary abilities as both a singer and songwriter. “Charli XCX is like one of my best mates now. She’s so lovely and believed in my project and my music from really early on. She just wanted to support me in whatever way which is incredible”. If you’re in-tune with the charts and have been attempting to coax some summer vibes from the shadows of winter, you’ll also be familiar with Raye’s collaborations with DJs Jax Jones and Jonas Blue. “Working with Jonas Blue was an amazing start” even if it was a traumatic one. “I was on my way to the studio and some idiot rammed me off the road. I burst my tyre and was really shook up but professionalism is key, so just sorted myself out and carried on”. To call Raye tough and talented would be an understatement.
Thankfully Jax Jones’ floorfiller You Don’t Know Me, which peaked admirably at number three in the UK singles chart, came about in a considerably less stressful way. “Jax and I are on the same label and his team wanted to get me involved as a writer on the track. I was originally only meant to write the top line for it but ended up being asked to stay on and do the vocals, which I’m glad about because I ended up loving it!”. Alongside her in-studio successes, Raye’s recent tour with Jess Glynne has seen her confidence and individual style grow with every show. For most, the prospect of standing on a stage and laying down your much-loved work would be daunting and altogether overwhelming, but not for this lady. “Performing infront of 10,000 people was amazing and the best pressure I’ve ever experienced. I really came into my own on stage and figured out how I like to perform and present myself too.” It’s all about making the most of your opportunities it seems as she adds that “you’d never find those things out if you didn’t do things that were a bit crazy.”
As an artist, her aura is refreshing. Although Raye’s music is outstanding and is her main passion in life, she’s also fully clued up on what’s going on in the world, both online and offline. Raye is unapologetically using her status as an artist to voice her opinions and make an impact through the increasingly powerful, and sometimes terrifying, platform that is social media. “For me, it’s so important that my voice is heard but for the right reasons. Often people want to play it safe and be careful but it’s key to express our opinions, especially if your message is positive.” It’s easy to recognise that Raye’s presence in the music industry is going to send all kinds of good vibes out to others. “I really want to speak out for things that I feel passionately about, which is important with the way the world is moving now, especially with people like Trump around. People need to be as aware as ever.”
If you haven’t already fallen slightly in love with Raye, her compassion towards supporting her fellow females will surely sway you. Whilst in conversation with up-and-coming artist, Mabel, the two commented on how “it’s interesting how girls are pitted up against each other.” “It seems as though we’re always competing for men’s attention with girls feeling like they have to be rivals. We really need to counteract that and preach to girls that uniting is better than segregating.” In a world where sexism is still an everyday occurrence in all walks of life, it’s great to see and hear such an influential figure heading in the right direction.
Speaking of right directions, Raye’s future appears to be one which is bright and full of all things excellent. With a catchy array of tunes already under her belt, the prospect of an album lies in the not-so-distant future. “I honestly have hundreds and hundreds of vibes and loads of different ideas. It’s tricky because I’m writing to see if I can knock the ones I love and I want put an album out when I know it’ll be something that people will love too.” Regardless of the path her eagerly anticipated album will take, her distinct sound and mesmerising vocals will stay true to her roots. “Before I release anything, I want to work on building as an artist and becoming a name, kinda like Anne Marie has done.” “Whatever happens, my music always has this kind of Pop-RnB thing and genres are just intertwining all the time, so we’ll see.”
2017 is set to be a big year for Raye, her music and her journey as an artist. “Over the summer, we’re literally doing a show every weekend throughout July and August, so it’s gonna be amazing.” From Parklike to Glastonbury, you’ll be able to catch Raye performing live and doing what she does best. However, if the summer is just that little bit too far away, tickets for Raye’s first headline show in May at London’s Heaven are available and selling fast. As a woman glowing with a pure zest for life and a seemingly endless well of talent, Raye is certainly one to watch.
This feature is taken from tmrw volume #18.