Rae Morris interview: 'record deals and albums were like unicorns'

Ahead of Highest Point Festival, Henry Lewis caught up with with the Blackpool singer-songwriter to talk about breaking out of her hometown via music, favourite roller coasters, the importance of BBC Introducing and plenty more.

Henry Lewis

Date published: 8th May 2018

Image: Rae Morris (credit)

Blackpool singer-songwriter Rae Morris released her second album Someone Out There earlier this year, and at just 25 at the time of writing, is one of the most promising talents the country has to offer.

Morris resides in London nowadays, however the ties to her North West roots will naturally forever remain strong, and from a musical perspective at least she owes a lot to Lancashire and how it elevated her career to where it is now. 

After posting songs on MySpace, she was signed by her record label at the age of 19, not without the help however of BBC Radio Lancashire who pushed and pushed her music through their local station and beyond, thus resulting in festival performances that no doubt took her notoriety from a local to national level.

On Saturday 19th May Morris will top the bill on the Chris Glaba Memorial stage, with a line up curated by BBC Introducing, for Highest Point Festival, delivering tracks from both her aforementioned sophomore release and also her stunning debut Unguarded.

Currently on the road in support of Jungle, we managed to grab some interview time with Rae to talk about gender equality in music, Blackpool pleasure beach, BBC Introducing and much more.

I believe you’re currently on tour with Jungle, how is that going?

Yeah I am! It’s our fourth show with them tonight in Nottingham. It’s a very sunny day and everyone is in happy touring spirits. Jungle are obviously amazing so being able to watch their full gig last night in Brighton was really fun and they have a super musical fan base who welcomed us warmly.

Were you a fan of them already? What’s your favourite song of theirs?

I absolutely am a fan yeah. I definitely heard Busy Earnin’ first and loved how fresh it sounded. The Heat is still my favourite but I’m actually super looking to their new stuff. We’re hearing bits and pieces at these gigs and everyone’s gonna love it.

What’s the best compliment about your work you’ve received of a fan been so far?

When a fan messages me and says that a song has helped them through a difficult time in their life I really can’t wish for anything more. Music is such a special art form in that it really can be there for people as comfort and remedy. I’ve never wanted the songs I write to just be about me so to hear that they can enter someone’s life at a perfect time and help them in some way means a huge deal.

BBC Introducing have been instrumental to your early success - describe their importance to your career and what they have done for you thus far.

The BBC Introducing uploader tool was one of the first places I put my music online, that and MySpace. I had some demos recorded and wanted people to hear them. Sean McGinty from Radio Lancashire invited me in to play on his show. It was the craziest thing that had ever happened to me. Soon after I went down to London (another big deal) to attend a BBC Introducing Masterclass at Abbey Road, and played the Introducing stages at Reading and Leeds. Without these huge opportunities I don’t think I would have got to where I am today. I’m very grateful. 

What are your three favourite things about your hometown Blackpool?

The Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Fish and Chips, and our incredible Tower. I'm a proud ‘Sandgrownun'.

What's your favourite ride at the Pleasure Beach?

I really love the Grand National ride which is basically two rollercoasters side by side, racing each other. It’s very fun. The Big One is obviously a must for anyone who’s tall enough (it took me a while but I eventually got there). It’s kind of amazing how high over the water you go.

You were recently recognised in Noisey in an interview with  American singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, and actress Liz Phair - she mentions she listens to you within a list of other artists she is into, that must feel great right? 

That was very cool yeah! I wasn’t actually aware of Liz before this so I’m so happy to have been introduced to her this way. I was basically 1 year old when Exile in Guyville came out but It’s amazing how it still translates in 2018. I’ve been listening to it lots on this tour. I’ve always loved Matador records for their choice of artists - Cat Power, Perfume Genius, Savages, Kurt Vile. It’s a very good vibe.

The focus of the interview is based around 25 years of Liz’s Exile in Guyville album and the struggle women face in the music industry - you’re as up to date as artists come, is the music industry a place that is finally waking up to the times it finds itself in as far as equal treatment toward women and men goes?

Yeah it seems that people are finally realising stuff can’t go on the way it has done. For some reason the music industry does feel a little resistant and behind even the rest of society. There’s still a very unfair pressure put on young women to be everything all at the same time- an unrealistic 'perfect package'.

I love that Liz Phair says in that interview that she’s holding off on the shouting at the moment whilst we, the younger generation, take our turn. She took on more than her fair share of load all of those years ago. Everyone is pretty sick of keeping quiet about this stuff now. I see such a difference in the way I’m treated in comparison to my boyfriend who is also a musician/ writer/ artist. There’s still work to be done but I’m definitely not keeping quiet about it anymore.

Your debut album came out back in 2015 - was this a moment you could have only dreamed about when you first started writing music?

I just didn’t really even know how an album was made until I started being approached by record labels and lawyers. I loved music and was surrounded by it as a kid, but I wasn’t obsessed about reading the credits on the back of my favourite albums. I didn’t understand what a producer did. I honestly had so much to learn. Even when Unguarded came out, I still felt like the industry was a mystery to me. But people with record deals and albums were like unicorns in Blackpool and I still find it pretty surreal to be doing music as a career. 

As for Someone Out There, have you received a lot of love for your second album too?

The messages from my fans about Someone Out There have been on another level. I think we’ve connected in a whole other way through this album. I get new people contacted me every day saying that they’ve heard one of the songs and are so happy to have found it. This stuff is the most important to me. It’s such a thrill knowing that I can go into the studio and be completely creative and honest and then have the fruits of that well received by people. Then reviews and things were super positive as far as I can tell. 

How excited are you to headline the Chris Glaba memorial stage at this year’s Highest Point festival?

Very. We used to go to Williamson Park every summer to watch the plays they did. I’m not sure if they still do them but I reckon they were the first kind of immersive theatre experiences where you’re encouraging to join in and you follow the drama around to different scenes. I loved it. Lancaster is in the small cluster of places not far from Blackpool that I think of as homecoming occasions so it’ll be super special and fun I imagine.

You can find Highest Point Festival tickets below.

Tickets are no longer available for this event

Festivals 2018