It may not be apparent in her music, but Rae Morris is the nervous type.
Clash meets the 19-year-old singer-songwriter in the lobby of a west London hotel. The night before, she sold out a show at the city’s Village Underground venue. But it’s not a sense of triumph she feels, more one of relief.
“It was built up to be this big event,” she says. “So I am really relieved that it went well. Well, I think it went well…”
Rae’s hesitant with her answers. She pauses, stumbles over the right words to find. It’s the manifestation of an appealing modesty; in her mind, now, it seems “could do better” is the motto going forwards with performances.
But Rae needn’t be so humble. After a string of dates with Tom Odell and Lianne La Havas, the Blackpool artist can bask in the reflection of said artists’ successes, and it’s likely that comparable praise is heading her way.
And if a rise comes quickly, it’ll be with precedent: after a flurry of A&R interest, she gave her education a back seat in order to focus on finding her songs a home. It was a rapid ascent, from the radar’s edge to major label within a matter of weeks.
“It was the most exciting three or four months of my life,” says Morris. “I was doing a gig one night, and all the labels were there. But then I went back to college the next day, sat in my English lit class, and thought: ‘How is this
The “it” that feels like home is Atlantic Records, the label that successfully convinced Morris to join its admirable roster. She’s perhaps not the most obvious fit for a stable calling Flo Rida and Bruno Mars their own, though.
Morris’ songs are profound. It’s clear she seeks solace within her own words and music. The results can be raw, with the ability to get into the listener’s bones.
If she can seem reticent in an interview situation, it’s probably because she’s always seeking the right way to articulate a response, the perfect way to tell her story.
“I’m quite an emotional person,” she says. “And I’m an observer, too. I like to understand why it is that I’m feeling the way I do; or why that person made me feel like this. Sometimes it’s hard to convey these emotions in words. Like, even now, I’m trying to explain myself, and I can’t…”
A little flustered, clearly frustrated, she pauses. Takes a breath. Has a think. “It’s weird. I don’t actually remember writing most of my songs. And that might be a bad thing, as it means I don’t have a formula for writing. If someone asked for a couple more songs, for this or that, I just can’t do it.
“‘From Above’, the lead track from my EP, represents the first time I’ve consciously written a song – like, I thought about it first. I was at an after-show party at the (London) Scala, on the top balcony, looking down on everyone – and there and then I wrote the song’s words on my phone. Three months later I set those words to music, so I guess I needed to live with it a while.”
‘From Above’ is released on April 22, and it’s clear that Morris is now writing with the bigger picture in mind. She hints that an album could be ready for September, and with this suggestion she seems content for the first time. She’s had time to think about it, to find the right answer.
From now until September: time enough to achieve perfection.
Words: Matthew French
What: A singer-songwriter with bite
Get 3 Songs: ‘From Above’, ‘Way Back When’, ‘Grow’
Unique Fact: Rae's music is a family affair; with her parents attending every single gig they can often been seen on the Megabus out of Blackpool.