Rising star Raye is just getting started: Exclusive Fault shoot and interview

At just 19, South London songstress Raye is setting her sights on world domination. Featured on BBC Music’s Sound Of 2017 list – which aims to predict the most exciting new musicians of the year – the Brit School alumni’s distinctive, sultry vocals has won her collaborations with big name artists such as Nas, Stormzy and Charli XCX, the latter of whom co-wrote Raye’s breakthrough single ‘I, U, Us’.

Now signed to Polydor, Raye will be touring a number of UK festivals this year, including Parklife, Lovebox and V Festival. We spoke to the rising star about her musical influences, overcoming her fears, why guilty pleasures can be cool, and shooting for the stars.

Growing up in a music-loving family, was your decision to pursue a music career based more on nurture or nature?

I’d probably say both. All my sisters can sing, maybe it’s genetic, but also nurture because it [music] was always around me growing up. Being able to perform is a recent revelation; I’ve always had it in me but I’ve never quite been able to go for it. When I was doing my first support gig maybe one or two years ago, I was very much by the microphone, a bit scared of the stage and using the space. But I recently had a revelation that I could be myself. I think now, when I’m on stage, I really am myself.

Shirt – House of Sunny @ Utter Couture boutique / Jacket – Teatum Jones


Who do you look to for inspiration and influence musically?

I’m part African, I’m part Swiss and then British and I guess I’ve grown up hearing lots and lots of different styles and types [of music]. I think I take a lot from my African roots – I’m a quarter Ghanaian – and I was always brought up listening to gospel church music, but being from Ghana it always had these amazing afrobeats. I grew up listening to a lot of empowered, really proficient female songwriters: Natasha Bedingfield, Nelly Furtado, Jill Scott, Nina Simone. I had a really healthy dose growing up, but those were the things I latched on to most.

How would you describe your creative process?

I’ve been writing for quite a while. Five or six years full-time almost. I don’t like to have specific habits; I think the lyrics are very important, I like a strong lyric to come in with. Often, before I get to the session, however I’m travelling there, I’ll just do a little brainstorm before I get in, log some lyric and melody ideas, I’ll record some voice notes. My phone is all clogged up with voice notes and lyric ideas! Usually, I just go in, meet the people and present my ideas. It’s good to come prepared.

Shirt – House of Sunny @ Utter Couture boutique

You’ve collaborated with some amazing artists – Stormzy, Nas, Jonas Blue, Jax Jones and Charli XCX. How did these collabs come about?

Most of them were just being in the right place at the right time, honestly. This whole thing is just a bit of luck and hard work. I just thought to myself when I was a kid, if I’m in the studio enough and I meet people, then I’ll start to open doors for myself – and that’s exactly what kind of happened. With Charli, I became really good mates with her after we had sessions together and then she wanted to do more and ended up directing my music video for me.

You write a lot of your own material. Would you say your songs are predominantly autobiographical?

Most of them. I do act like an over dramatic 19-year-old girl, I over-exaggerate everything, but the songs are about dramatisations. Exaggerations of small issues. They’re mostly very personal and real to me.

Jacket – Teatum Jones


At your recent headline show at Heaven, you performed Britney’s Womaniser. Do you have any other guilty pleasures you love to listen to?

I’ve got hundreds, loads! You know what I really love? ‘Birthday’ by Katy Perry! I put it on when I’m doing my washing in the house. I love guilty pleasures; there’s so much naughty pop music that’s “not cool” to listen to but that’s why I wanted to do ‘Womaniser’ because I could dance round my living room to it. For weeks on end I’ve wanted nothing more than to do my own little karaoke version of it on stage, it was really fun. I did get a lot of stick for wanting to put that in from my management. I think it’s actually cool when you’re not trying to do something, you’re just having fun. On stage, that’s what it’s all about for me. You just want to have fun and you want people to have fun with you.

Do you have any pre-show rituals to psych yourself up before you go on stage?

I get ready, have my honey and lemon and then I just jump around really. We put a playlist on and just go a bit wild, American rap vibes, massively turn up. Before you go on stage, you need to feel like, “I’m the shit,” even though you’re not. I listen to JME, Giggs, Stormzy – just the big UK grime stuff before I go on stage.

Robe – Felder Felder / Dress – Just Hype

What’s your career goal? The feeling you’ll have when you know you’ve ‘made it’?

I have the biggest dreams. I really wanna achieve world bloody domination! I just wanna be a massive artist and I want everybody to play my songs. I know this is a really weird thing for a British artist to say because we’re so humble over here; you don’t say those things, it’s not cool, you know? Your Katy Perrys, your Taylor Swifts and Rihannas – they’re on the next level. I wanna reach that. I mean I’m 19 and if I work bloody hard enough, who knows?

What is your FAULT?

I can be very impatient. When you’re writing songs every day, there’s so many that never come out. [New song ‘The Line’] was written two years ago and it’s only just come out! I really do have to learn to be patient.

Raye’s new track THE LINE is out today. Find it here: https://raye.lnk.to/TheLinePR

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Words: Aimee Phillips

Photography: Ashleigh Nayomi

Styling: Edith Walker Millwood

Make-Up: Abbie May using Inglot

Hair: Nick Peters @ Eighteen Management