Raye is basically the best thing to come from Croydon since Kate Moss. At just 18, she’s already worked with everyone from Stormzy to Emeli Sandé to Charli XCX, and her recent single ‘Distraction’ – “about an absolute prick” – is the sort of song most A-list pop stars would kill their granny for. Brilliantly her next one, the Charli-assisted ‘I-U-Us’, taken from her new EP Second, is even better so make way fools.
Is it true Stormzy reckons you’re an alien from the future?
Erm he did say that, which is pretty nuts. That was in Sweden as well, of all places. I just laughed to be honest, like, ‘what? Okay, thanks’. He’s super great.
You’re actually from Croydon. How has that shaped you do you think?
There’s so much going on there. It’s the full spectrum. Growing up in south London is a huge part of who I am and me as an artist. It’s also there in my singing voice, in my accent.
You went to the Brit School for a bit – how was that?
Incredible. I did two years there and for me it was the turning point when I realised it was what I really wanted to do. I’d wanted to go since I was 11.
Do you respect authority? Or would you rather do things your own way?
I luckily left before the songwriting course. For me, writing for a few years now,
I don’t think it’s right to teach someone how to structure a song. It’s so personal you know. Not all songs have to be 3:30 seconds to get on the radio. That’s just a load of rubbish in my opinion.
You’ve said Olly from Years & Years helped get you signed to Polydor. What did he do exactly?
He found me on Hype Machine, my song ‘Hotbox’, and wrote about me in an article saying that he had sex with his boyfriend to that song. I love a bit of that. He then spoke to Polydor about me. I’m so happy with the songs we’ve got coming up now and the label are really excited about the project and you can see that in the amount of money and effort that’s being put in.
Does the record label pick up your Uber bills?
(Laughs) Not all of them. Not as often as I’d like.
Do you know your Uber star rating?
I think it’s a 4.8. I’ve thrown up a couple of times in an Uber by accident. Well I was drunk. Once it was out of the window but the other time I was too drunk to remember.
Why did you ditch your real name Rachel and become Raye?
When I started at the Brit school one of my best friends started calling me Raye so I just told everyone my name was Raye. It was almost like New School, New Raye or something. That’s when I started doing sessions for the first time.
Is ‘Hotbox’ about the smoking of illegal drug marijuana?
That is about being in a room while everybody else was partaking in this drug and I was sitting there like, ‘woah, what the hell’. I wrote that song a week later.
So you’ve still never smoked the herbal cigarettes?
Erm, well let’s just move on.
Your new single ‘I-U-Us’ was written with Charli XCX. Tell me about that one please.
That’s the next thing that’s coming out from my EP Second. There was a writing camp in LA and she came with another writer, Noonie Bao, and we just got in a session and it was so much fun. We did three and half tunes in a day. Since then she took a liking to my stuff and I’ve done some sessions for her and I’ve co-written her next single.
“Tell me what you love about me” is one of your lyrics, but what do you love about me?
I love your glasses.