Singer-songwriter RAYE steps off stage after supporting Jess Glynne and chats to Ben Johns and Mathilde Edgington-Pollard

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Fresh from her support slot on Jess Glynne’s Take Me Home Tour at the Genting Arena, upcoming singer-songwriter RAYE sits down with Redbrick’s Ben Johns and Mathilde Edginton-Pollard.

What did you think of Birmingham?
It was my first time performing here and the crowd was sick. Obviously it’s difficult playing support because you have to start early and nobody knows your songs but it was so much fun. Everybody was so in it, it was great!

You provide the vocals for Jonas Blue’s new single ‘By Your Side’. How much contact is there when you feature on a song? Is it all behind the scenes?
I think that’s a much more American way of doing things. I was just in LA doing some writing with DJ Mustard and people like that and it was funny because in the UK it’s all really hands on, but in America it’s less so. I definitely prefer the British way of doing sessions.

Charli XCX directed your music video for ‘I, U, US’ and Stormzy featured on your Second EP. What was it like working with them?
I’m really good friends with Stormzy. He’s such a lovely guy – he looks all scary in his music videos but you couldn’t meet a friendlier person. He’s a big cookie! Charli’s great and kind of inspired me a lot in how she does things because she’s a writer and a singer. I co-wrote her new single, ‘After the After Party’ with her too which has just come out. She’s a good friend now and a mentor so if I have a question then I know I can just text her. It’s a difficult industry and it’s nice to meet other artists that are willing to help new artists out.

How much has London influenced you and your sound?
It’s influenced me pretty massively. When I go to Leeds to see my Nana, it’s not segregated but it is different. Yet, in London you’ll have every culture in your class and you’ll be so embracing of it. Everybody is so comfortable and so expressive and there’s a richness of culture that creates a new feeling and a new person with loads to say.

What was your experience at the BRIT school like?
BRIT was sick. My band is made up of my classmates! The school was perfect for what I needed and it really motivated me because when you go to a school like that with loads of talented kids it makes you work harder. It was definitely a competitive environment and I wanted to win. Whilst I was there, I started contacting producers and doing sessions on a weekend with bedroom producers. Then gradually through word of mouth, I got better sessions and better songs. I did a song called ‘Hotbox’ which started getting label interest.

In London, there’s a richness of culture that creates a new feeling and a new person with loads to say.

You’ve written a lot of songs for other artists, like Blonde’s ‘All Cried Out’. Do you prefer writing for other people or performing your own material?
It’s a bit of both. Performing my own songs and performing on a massive stage like this is one of my favourite things to do. But writing for other artists is so satisfying, I wanted that to always be my thing. I don’t want anybody to think that I’m not credible, not good enough or that everybody does things for me because it’s not that way. I’m involved in everything and I want that credibility as a writer, which I’m starting to get. I want to be able to do whatever I want and say “you can’t chat to me because I wrote your favourite songs”.

What advice do you have for people studying music at university and hoping to making it in the industry?
You’ve got to find that thing that makes you different. That’s what the Kanyes and Drakes did and they’ve become the pioneers. You can start whenever you want; it’s not about your age. It’s all about how much you want it and how much you work for it! Some people say about me that “you’re a girl, you’re young, what do you know?” but you earn your respect and I’ve worked hard and want to prove myself!

Where do you hope to see yourself in the future?
I want to be the biggest thing on the planet if I can! I’m feeling optimistic about 2017. We’ve got a couple of sick singles that are ready to come out next year. The album is coming too, but I want to be a name before it’s released because I want people to buy it. I’m excited; I’m 19, I’ve got my whole label behind me and I’m just ready to kick stuff out there!

‘By Your Side’ is out now.

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