In conversation with Rae Morris

Crashing back into our lives earlier this year with Someone Out There, the bold, bright and banging follow-up to her rather ethereal first album Unguarded, Rae Morris chatted to Girls That Gig about everything from being happy in love to developing a serious addiction to dancing, before becoming the soundtrack to everybody’s night out by closing Live at Leeds festival.

After hiding away in the studio for three years, Someone Out There was worlds away from what had been expected of Rae Morris when she resurfaced a few months ago; with a pretty upbeat tone, where were the nostalgic heartbreakers we’d become so used to hearing from this Blackpool singer-songwriter? “Well mostly I was just feeling happiness, which is a very bizarre thing to say because I think in music people just want to hear sad stories,” and she’s not wrong; unfortunately, happiness is no longer a feeling synonymous with pop music these days. Especially in a social media-fuelled society, there’s often a craving to listen to other people’s pain and hurt to validate your own sadness. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for positive tunes: “I did have elements of my life that were quite lonely from being on the road a lot, but then whilst making the record I fell in love and found this pretty cool thing which is super cliché and quite embarrassing. I just felt like why the hell should I not be writing happy tunes.”

The person that Rae fell in love with also just happens to be the person whom she collaborated most with on this album. “Fryars ultimately played a massive part in the record; I wrote most of it with him and there was a lot of just being in his little studio in his south London flat, messing around with weird synth lines and high melodic phrases, which was very different to my little musings on the piano for the first record when I was 17 or 18”.

Her joy also exuberates far beyond the songs and seeps into the visual aesthetics of the album, and throughout Rae’s wardrobe. “Visuals do really mean a lot to me,” she states whilst sporting a yellow puffer jacket and matching fluorescent eyeshadow that is very reminiscent of the second album cover. “I was doing a lot of drawings and paintings during making the record when there was time in the studio where editing had to be done. I could see the colours that it needed to be. Each song felt like a bold colour to me and it was just about high energy and a lot of bright happy colours”. This high energy has also transferred into her performances, these days swapping the piano for the dancefloor. “I’ve completely become addicted to dancing. I realised I’ve been wasting a lot of my life not being brave enough to dance and having this weird hang-up about it, so now I like to encourage people to expel any of their hang-ups and just go a bit crazy”.

There’s also been a recent shift in the kind of live shows that Rae performs, as she’s currently travelling around the UK and Europe with tropical funk favourites Jungle: “After doing a lot of headlines recently, it’s really quite amazing and strange going back to doing supports, trying to get people to like what I’m doing now but I’m really enjoying it.” It might initially seem a strange pairing to those who haven’t heard Morris’ second album but that doesn’t faze her. “I think it kind of completely suits the kind of music that I’m making now, and it actually really makes sense as a support slot to be on”.

With Live at Leeds boasting a hugely male-dominated lineup, we also chatted about the current state of gender balance within the music industry. “I think that the front of pop music is definitely being represented but it’s the behind the scenes stuff that still has work to do in labels, festivals and crews,” and although it may seem like Rae is at the forefront of this representation, she’s certainly not alone. “I’ve always felt like I was around a lot of cool females and felt like everyone was always coming through but it feels exciting now”.

All in all, it’s safe to say Rae has managed to break through the mainstream with a winning combination of bright colours, happy love songs and dancing addictions that is so refreshing to see in contrast to the familiar murky grey of the corporate music industry.

Lucy Bradshaw

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