From being longlisted on BBC Sound of 2015, to making her way on to the Billboard and the Twitter Emerging Artists chart with Unguarded, it comes as no surprise that this Blackpool-born artist has made such a name for herself. In the midst of her first UK headlining tour, singer/songwriter Rae Morris takes a few minutes to have a chat with Venue, a day before her next show in Glasgow, with her trusty keyboard by her side.
At the ripe ol’ age of 18, just months after her performance on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds Festival in 2011, she attracted the eyes of Atlantic Records, saying that “the guys came up to Blackpool and kind of gave me a record deal over the table of a fish and chips shop”. Being “one of the hugest moments of my life”, Rae has in no way wasted her time at Atlantic. Her debut album, described by The Guardian as “an endearing new-agey pop debut”, has a unique and ‘colours outside the box’ kind of sound. “Making the actual album took two years in itself”, and we can see why. Tracks like Not Knowing, Under the Shadows and of Do You Even Know? showcase Rae’s openness and heart and her dedication to what she has been working on for so long.
Much like the title of the album, she has completely let her walls down to her listeners. “I never really thought about it at the time, but I guess the reason why I called it Unguarded was because on reflection I had put a lot into it, and documented all those personal emotions. I find writing therapeutic, almost like a diary. I do keep a diary as well; I’m notorious for writing everything down. But to me, it was really nice. It does kind of feel weird now actually, now I think about it, people know everything. But if there’s any way it can be a positive, then that’s good”. And it is good; not only has the raw emotion and feeling in her lyrics shone through the experimental beats, but the album’s collaborative process has really brought the best out of her talent.
American Grammy-award winning producer, Ariel Rechtshaid, co-writer of Usher’s Climax, also had a hand in producing this album. “I went out to America, spent three months out there with him. He’s the most individual person to be around. It was the perfect environment to work on the album. During the album making process, I kind of got obsessed with the combination of real, raw, organic instruments, and then the synthetic and electronic sounds, and seeing how those two sounds work together”.
With many other collaborators on this album, and a beautiful smorgasbord of sounds and beats, it would be difficult to find out which track was Rae’s most emotionally revealing, but favourite, track on the album. “I think for me, it’s For You, because when I wrote it, it was the third song I ever wrote. It became an anthem of this song writing thing that I was doing. It kind of sums up the way I feel and how lucky I am. I think it’s about family, and loved ones, and being fortunate”. That’s what seems to come out in her music, there is a real genuine energy that comes from the album and touches the listener. Her voice is soft, but evocative, and has a hidden strength to it that tells these emotionally charged stories of love and the troubles of it.
But of course, with this sudden claim to musical attention and tour preparations, there had to have been some time to de-stress and enjoy the moment. “We drove from Blackpool to Glasgow, and saw snow on the hills and the most beautiful sky, and it was really relaxing. Probably won’t say that in six months’ time, but for now it’s cool”. But I wanted to know what else helped her to relax. She said, “I’ve been watching a lot of TV, I think I’ve watched three seasons of Girls in, like, a week…and sleep”.
That definitely sounds like the unwinding antics of a 21 year-old.
With her tour ending in Norwich’s Arts Centre, it seems to be the best way to bring her UK headlining gig to a close. “We played Norwich on my last tour, and it was an incredible turn out and I was really surprised because I thought I don’t really know anyone in Norwich. Usually in the west of the UK, I can rely on friends and family to fill up the room. But I’m really excited for Norwich”.
Rae Morris will be performing on the 16th February 2015 at the the Norwich Arts Centre in her headlining tour, promoting her debut album Unguarded, which was released on 26 January 2015.