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Interview with BBC Sound Of 2017 Nominee Raye

Interview with BBC Sound Of 2017 Nominee Raye

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Brighton Centre to catch up with Raye after her performance supporting Jess Glynne on the Take Me Home tour.

You’d be forgiven if you are not already aware of Raye but the 19 year old from South London is quickly making a name for herself. As I arrived home from the show and turned my laptop on I discovered that while we were speaking Raye had been named as one of the BBC Sound of 2017 artists. Adding to that she has also been listed by Apple Music and Vevo as one to watch in 2017.

After witnessing Raye perform live it is easy to see why she is so hotly tipped for success. The venue wasn’t far off capacity when Raye took to the stage. She performed tracks including the infectiously catchy ‘I, U, Us‘ and her collaboration with Jonas Blue ‘By Your Side.’ It was nice to see that the crowd was extremely receptive to the newcomer.

Towards the end of the show, I notice a couple just in front of me who had their phones out and began to Raye on Apple Music. I’m sure that they were not the only new fans she picked up after that performance.

📷 by Stuart Barker

After her set, I waited at the side of the stage for her manager to come and grab me. Being the first interview I have ever done in person I’ll be honest I was slightly anxious as this was all brand new to me. I was led to the dressing and introduced to Raye, she instantly made me feel welcome and like I wasn’t an inconvenience.

Raye began by explaining to me how much her upbringing influenced her love of music. “I’ve been in love with music since I was a kid. My parents were really musical, my dad plays keys and would lead worship in church while my mum would sing in the choir.” This experience influenced her love of gospel music and strong female vocalists such as Nina Simone, Etta James and Elia Fitzgerald. When it comes to more recent influences Raye explains that Drake and Jhené Aiko are favourites and top of her list of artists that she wants to collaborate with in the future.

Raye admitted that as a teenager she was into the likes of Alicia Keys and Natasha Bedingfield. She recalls how she still remembers her father taking her to the record shop to pick up the albums on cd.

Pigeonholing Raye into one particular genre is difficult. You can clearly hear a variety of styles within her music such as pop, soul and hip-hop. After collaborations with the likes of Charli XCX, Stormzy and Jonas Blue she describes that “As time goes on I am getting such a clearer picture of who I am, who I want to be as an artist and what I want to say.”

As time goes on I am getting such a clearer picture of who I am, who I want to be as an artist and what I want to say.”

By the sounds of it, Raye has always been very focused on what she wants to achieve. She explains to me that at the age of 10 years old she told her dad that she wanted to go to the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in South London. The school is famously selective with its intake and can be credited with helping produce the likes of Adele, Jessie J, Katie Melua and Amy Winehouse. A determined Raye got her wish and attended the school from the age of 14 to 16 years old, where she majored in music and minored in dance.

Not content with being behind the microphone Raye tells me that “I consider myself a songwriter first and foremost. I love collaborating with others and understand new and different perspectives within the songwriting process.”

Once such collaboration was with her close friend Charli XCX, together they wrote ‘I, U, Us.’ Raye also enlisted Charli to direct the video. She confesses that it was only a few days before the shoot that she was told that it was going to be filmed on ice! This gave Raye very little time to learn how to skate but by the time cameras were rolling she could at least glide on the ice. For me, this is the standout track on her EP ‘Second’ which is available to download on iTunes or stream on Spotify and Apple Music. I’ve had the song playing on repeat all week.

After spending only a brief amount of time with Raye, I can see that she is talented, intelligent and determined to make her music career a success. I am in no doubt that she will do just that and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her.


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