Interview: Rae Morris

As exciting as it is to talk to seasoned, veteran musicians you’ve long admired from afar, it’s somehow more nerve-wracking to speak to someone whose star is meteorically on the rise.  Qmunicate’s Ciaran McQueen had the fantastic chance to receive a call from the 22 year old singer-songwriter Rae Morris with just 24 hours to spare.  At the agreed time he sat at his desk and swung on his chair in agonising silence, just waiting for the phone to ring with hastily arranged questions.  He needn’t have worried. She’s wonderful.

Hi Rae, you recorded and toured with Bombay Bicycle Club recently; did working with Jack Steadman at all change your approach to music-making?

Rae – Yeah, I think it did.  It probably has had a bigger effect on me than I even realised, I guess.  Just being around such creative people makes you feel more creative yourself.  If you surround yourself with people who are like-minded and share your passions then it really does have an effect on you.  Jack’s writing style is just so amazing that it definitely inspired me to write more myself.

Is it true that you both wrote ‘Luna’ [single from BBC’s latest album] together?

R – Well Jack definitely knew what he wanted from me, and he knew what the song was.  I kind of just sung what he wanted me to because he has such a clear vision of what he wants, but I think he just needed my voice to do that.  It came about very naturally, though.

Yeah, your voice does fit perfectly into that song.  So you played Glasgow in September last year and you’re playing again in February – how do you find playing in Glasgow compares to other parts of the UK?

R – It’s great fun – I never really realised the difference because I’d only played here a couple of times, but the last gig of the tour in September that you mentioned was particularly amazing.  It was a Saturday night, actually, and it was a bit wild in that tiny little venue.  It was really hot in there as well, a very hot, vibey gig.  I loved the energy in the crowd.

You’ve released quite a few EPs over the years, did the full LP take a long time to compose and get right or does now just feel like the right time to put it out there?

R – No, it did take a long time.  There’s a big difference between putting out an EP and a full LP.  The EPs were, I suppose, me just exploring being in the studio: finding out how to record and how to be the artist I wanted to be.  And then the album… I had to get it right.  There was a bit of pressure – mostly from myself – to make sure that I was being true to myself.  So it has taken a long time; I’ve been recording the album for two years now with this vision in mind.  I’ve used all the time to try to make it into exactly what I’d dreamed it would be.

We’re really looking forward to hearing it.  What influenced you musically when you were growing up?  Was it artists who inspired you to start writing your own songs or did the people around you have a stake in it as well?

R – When I was growing up I wasn’t really aware of music as something you would individually get into and have your own favourite music that you loved and cherished – I was more aware of the music around me, and I’d listen to the radio with my dad.  Radio 2 was always on really loud in our house.  It just floated around me all the time, and I think that’s why I have it in me.  But then gradually my brother got into Coldplay and started introducing me to that kind of songwriting, and eventually I got into my dad’s old vinyl collection which was people like Dusty Springfield.  She was the first time I heard a female vocal that stunned me and made me stop in my tracks, and for the first time I was discovering that I had a voice that I could write songs with.

[Ciaran McQueen]

Rae Morris’ debut album Unguarded is released in the UK on the 26th of January and you can catch her at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on the 3rd of February.  

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