South London native Raye is a force to be reckoned with. At only 19, she is the UK’s hottest newcomer and fans love her unapologetic attitude. The Resident meets the Brit School graduate who knows what she wants and won’t take no for an answer…
Words: Dominique Regalado
Following hugely successful collaborations with Jax Jones on You Don’t Know Me and Jonas Blue on By My Side, Raye is taking the industry by storm. With her new single The Line and two EPs performing well, the south London singer-songwriter has been streamed over 100 million times and is quickly making a name for herself.
Raye’s songs are described as full of character with unmistakable swagger: ‘I’ll experiment with sounds I love and songs I love. It’s pop music with an R&B feel, and slightly pushing boundaries. But I have no idea, if I was to label it, how I would,’ she states.
The singer has performed at a number of festivals this summer, including Lovebox and Love Saves the Day, and is soon to appear at Sundown Festival in Norwich, so she certainly has enough air time for you to decide on her sound for yourself. But before you decide based on Raye’s toe-tapping hits, check out her beautiful vocals in the moving ballad, Sober.
Growing up in Croydon, Raye began songwriting early and soon fell in love with singing too. ‘I had musical parents and a musical family,’ she says. ‘I grew up in the church and I was always singing in the choir. I started writing early – kind of like really rubbish Christmas songs, songs about people and things that are interesting and personal to girls.’
Raye’s newest track, The Line, was inspired by the first time she went to a club and waited in line for an age before being turned away at the door. ‘I remember taking ages to get ready. I put on my favourite clothes, my favourite trainers and I was with all my best friends. We got in line to this club that I was so excited to go to,’ she recalls.
All the girls were in tight dresses and high-heels. The Line was an expression about how wrong and outdated that was
‘We were in the line for about an hour and a half. We got to the door and the bouncer was like, “No, not today”. I just looked around and got the memo that all the girls were in tight dresses and high-heels. Like, oh, girls have to look this way meanwhile men are waltzing in wearing jeans. [The Line] was an expression about how wrong and outdated that was.’
When asked how it felt to be so successful at such a young age, Raye says: ‘It’s funny because I don’t really look at it that way. I don’t know why, but I feel like I have so much more to achieve. I feel like I haven’t been successful yet, which is really weird, but it is incredible.’
The star’s musical parents shaped her love for music. ‘I used to watch my dad write songs and be like, I’m going to do that. I started practicing really early, which is why, I guess, I’m quite young. Without them, I don’t know if I’d be the person I am today.’
Raye is a Brit School graduate, joining the ranks of Adele, Amy Winehouse, Jessie J, Katy B, Rizzle Kicks and Leona Lewis.
‘It gives you a little taste of the industry,’ she says of the famous Croydon institution. ‘Everybody’s really talented, everyone’s competitive. The teachers are amazing, I learned some incredible things. I think I definitely did the right thing by going. It really helped me – more than ever – and I left thinking, yes, this is definitely what I want to do.’