Interview: R.A.E.

R.A.E was recently selected from thousands of entries as the winner of its 2020 Emerging Talent Competition. M caught up with her to find out what inspired the name, how she’s coping in isolation and what she has in store for her slot at Glastonbury 2021.

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  • By Paul Nichols
  • 9 Jul 2020
  • min read

South-East Londoner R.A.E. was the overwhelming choice of the panel of judges, who were wowed by her radiant, pin-sharp hip-hop and R&B. Her prize is a slot on one of the main stages at Glastonbury 2021. She will also be awarded a £5,000 Talent Development prize from PRS Foundation to help take her songwriting and performing to the next level.

Hi R.A.E, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. Where are you holed up at the moment?

You’re very welcome! At the moment I've just been chilling in my bedroom really.

How have you coped with the lockdown?

I’ve coped really well actually. I’ve been writing/recording new music, learning new recipes to cook off YouTube and recently bought a bike to get rid of some quarantine weight - ha ha!

Do you have any golden rules for staying creative in isolation?

Do I have any golden rules? Hmm? I don’t think I do, however because we had been in isolation for quite some time, when it came to writing I made sure, with the help of my imagination, that my music reflected what it's like to be outside. I had to think outside of the box (my bedroom) literally.

Congratulations on winning this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition! How does it feel to know you’ll be playing there in 2021?

Thank You very much! It’s an amazing feeling. I’m going to be performing at a huge festival and on the main stage as well!! My 15-year-old self would be extremely proud, an extremely shy girl from Thamesmead is living her dream 10 years later.

What can we expect to see from your performance next year?

You can expect an energetic, 90’s infused and full of character performance. You’ll definitely leave Glastonbury in great spirits after watching my performance and I'll 100% make sure I give my all.

Have you thought about what you’ll spend the PRS Foundation Talent Development prize on?

Yeah, I plan to invest in better quality music videos as well as developing myself as an artist, in terms of my image, creating merch, studio time and putting on my first headline show.

Can you tell us a bit about the winning track, Damn Jermaine?

Of course! Damn Jermaine (a fictional story btw), is about a girl (R.A.E) who is in-like with a boy called ‘Jermaine’. Jermaine who is also in-like with R.A.E is caught by one of her friends kissing another girl ‘Elaine’ down the street. The song then follows R.A.E on a quest to find Jermaine along with her friends and confront him.

South London has a reputation for being a hotbed for stellar new music. Has growing up there influenced the music you make?

Not one bit. I love South London and will always rep it, but growing up there has definitely not influenced my style of music, the 90’s has. I have a sister who was a teenager in the 90’ so had no choice but to love this era. From the music, to the clothes and tv shows.

Which artists did you look up to when you were first getting into music?

TLC, Da Brat, Mc Lyte, New Edition, Little Simz – reason being is that these groups/artists all have storytelling in common and that’s what I believe real music is. Being able to create music that listeners can relate to, that’s why I'm so adamant on telling stories in all my songs.

We read that the name R.A.E actually stands for ‘Rising Above Everything’. Can you explain why that statement was so important to you?

I believe that we all go through hardships in life, some harder than others but at the end of it all we tend to rise above the problem. This is why I've chosen this name; In 2017 I was feeling extremely depressed, constantly crying in my room and during that crying session I said to myself ‘Do you know what Rae? You're going to rise above everything’ I paused and realised I just created an acronym for my name. I then said I will continue to overcome my problems, so I changed ‘rise’ to ‘rising’ and came up with ‘Rising Above Everything’

What else do you have planned for 2020, coronavirus permitting?

I plan to continue writing/recording new music, hopefully I'll be performing in Barcelona, Spain in November and prepare for Glastonbury 2021 even though that’s a whole year away, better to be prepared than not to be.