The countdown is on for Blackpool singer-songwriter Rae Morris’s debut album release on Monday.
We spent five minutes with the young star, chatting about her album Unguarded, getting started, carrying on and not getting carried away.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR ALBUM COMING OUT? NERVOUS?
No, not nervous. A few months ago someone asked me and I said nervous, but then realised that’s just what they expected me to say – I feel really excited, and a little relief that all that hard work is done. Anyway, the album’s finished now and out on Monday, it’s too late to feel nervous.
WHEN WAS IT FINISHED?
I started writing it a long time ago, when I was 17. We finished mixing and mastering in November, so really not long ago. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were moments that were stressful, but that was mainly internal pressure. It’s the only debut I’m going to make, and I constantly asked myself if I was going to be happy living with it. I can now say, hand on heart, that it is and I couldn’t be happier with it.
SOME OF THE SONGS YOU WROTE WHEN YOU WERE 17?
Yes, they were some of the first songs I wrote. You hear of a lot of artists locking away their earliest songs, but fortunately I didn’t have that and For You is the third song I ever wrote.
DO YOU LISTEN TO THE
I used to listen to it a lot when we were making it, I’d go out for a run with the mixes we’d done to get a feel for them.
ARIEL RECHTSHAID PRODUCED THE ALBUM IN LOS ANGELES. WHEN DID YOU MEET HIM?
I came across him by hearing people at my record label talking about him, and saying that he was great. He produced a lot of Haim’s album. I had been working with the same person on my early EP, Fryars, and we’d started work on my debut, but it wasn’t working out because I think we were so comfortable with each other and what we were doing wasn’t the step up it needed to be for the album. So I went to America to meet Ariel in May 2013. Then I went back in the June and started making the album.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE WAY HE WORKS?
I started talking about what I wanted my album to sound like and he could tell what I meant and knew how to get there. He could tell I wasn’t very confident, so he told me not to be scared, and said he wanted to get some amazing musicians to play alongside me. He made it sound so easy, and that was the moment where I knew it was the right decision to work with him. We didn’t spend much time in the studio because it was so relaxed and we did the work needed and that was it. Not stressful at all.
AND IT WAS ALL WRITTEN BEFORE YOU WENT?
Yes, I had all the songs, so going to LA to record was like a holiday because we could just concentrate on recording. It would’ve been too much to go out to LA and try to write, it’s so far from the north of England, I wouldn’t have been able to talk about my life out there.
WHEN DID MUSIC BECOME MORE THAN A HOBBY?
I started playing piano when I was really young, like four, and I’d always write something to avoid practising. I was 17 when I wrote the first proper song, at college in Preston, and everything changed after that. Then I saw Karima Francis, who is also from Blackpool, on Later... With Jools Holland and that made me realise that someone from Blackpool could make it, and that’s when I thought I might give it a go too. I’d not considered it before really.
DID SHE GIVE YOU ANY TIPS?
Yes, I went to see her playing in Blackpool one night and she gave me loads of advice, and has been a mentor figure ever since, telling me about songwriting and structure and things. She really helped me.
WHEN DID YOU GET SIGNED?
I got signed to Universal Publishing when I left college, aged 18. I had no idea what happened in that year for them to sign me, but there were a few people who really helped me. The art assistant in my art class at college had a best friend who worked at Universal. She ended up offering me my publishing deal. And then I got signed to Atlantic Records from being heard on BBC Introducing. A man called Sean McGinty played my songs on the BBC Lancashire and it took off from there.
DID YOU THINK IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN FOR YOU, WHEN YOU SIGNED THAT FIRST DEAL?
I’m not sure, but in retrospect I don’t think I enjoyed that year of coming down to London to play gigs and showcases as much as I could’ve done. Definitely should’ve had more of the champagne that was offered, but I am from a tight family in the north of England and have my feet on the ground. My mum and dad always said, ‘Whatever happens next, this is a great opportunity’, so I wished I’d listened to them a bit more and enjoyed myself, but I’m also glad I didn’t get carried away.
WHAT WAS It LIKE WORKING WITH BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB?
It was great, I loved singing on their album. I met Lucy Rose playing at a festival a few years ago, and she has worked with them a lot, so one night she was playing with them and asked me backstage to meet them. Jack from the band had seen me at a festival too, and asked me to sing with them.
Meet Rae at Blackpool’s HMV store on Bank Hey Street, on Wednesday from 5pm, when she will be singing live and signing copies of Unguarded. Her tour kicks off at Liverpool’s Kazimier on Sunday, February 1. For more information go to www.raemorris.co.uk.