When did you start playing and singing?
I started playing piano when I was a kid and I started having lessons when I was 4. That sounds a little more serious than it was, but I started with a Yamaha, you know the “doh, ray, me” level, and it was a lot of singing aloud and it was done in a class so it was a lot of little kids thrashing about on organs. That was the first introduction to music I had and then I got to the classical grades about six. I always played piano, that was my pathway into it, and I started singing when I wrote my first song.
How old were you then?
I was 17, about two and a half years ago. I was in my second year of A Levels and I wrote one song and that sort of started everything.
What inspires you to write? You have this little book by your feet when you play live.
I’m very into writing things down, definitely. I’ve got this thing where I can’t bear not to write things down so I write everything in there.
I like to write about my feelings mostly. I know that sounds quite typical, but I like to think I’m quite a sensitive person about my own emotions and other people’s. A lot of my songs are about coming to terms with emotions, especially the first time you feel them. It’s like a documentation of that, a diary. I guess a lot of my songs are like that.
Who’s inspired you musically?
The biggest inspiration was when I met a girl called Karima Francis. She’s another singer-songwriter from Blackpool. She’s been on Jools Holland and the fact that she’s from Blackpool is the biggest inspiration that I could ever have, just because you don’t think being from a small town, you don’t consider doing this sort of thing as an option, but when you see someone doing it, that’s a really amazing thing.
She was a big influence and the other side is listening to people like Feist and Cat Power. KT Tunstall was one of the first singer-songwriters that I really got into. I definitely favour towards the female singer-songwriter.
You’ve already toured with a few bands such as Noah And The Whale and Bombay Bicycle Club. What have been your best experiences?
Just that, generally, is the biggest thing, being around those people. I like to be around cool characters and just being on the road with Bombay and making friends with those guys and other like-minded musicians is a really inspiring thing, because you see their ambition and they’re actually making something for themselves.
The Fink tour I did with him and his band around Europe was incredible as well as I’d never been to any of those places and everything was brand new.
Talking about new stuff, you’ve got an EP coming out. Can you tell me a bit about the songs that are on that?
I came back from the tour in November and I still hadn’t got to grips with the writing on tour thing and I had a weekend off where I wrote two brand new songs that are on the EP. The lead track is called From Above, that’ll be the single and there’s another new song and the first track I ever wrote called Wait Awhile. So, it’s a mix of the very old and the very new. You said your first headline tour was a year ago and you were playing ten songs. What’s happened to the songs you were playing then, are they going to be on the album?
I really hope so. I just started to record the album a couple of weeks ago and we’re going to record them all and see what happens. I’d like them to be because they mean so much to me those old songs. This EP will be my third so they’re slowly getting out there. But yeah, definitely, I want it to be a documentation of this time in my life, being seventeen and feeling all those feelings.
Are you recording the album with a band? The times I’ve seen you play it’s just been you on your own.
It’s not really a band, I don’t like to think of it like that, but there will be other elements to the record. It’s been really exciting the way we’ve done it, making EP's, it’s been a nice way of learning how to do it and slowly I’m finding a way of keeping my piano and vocal but having subtle additions that bring out certain elements of emotion. So, it’s not going to be a band.
You did a show with string arrangements by Joe Duddell in London. Will it be something along those sort of lines?
There will definitely be some strings on there, I’m a big fan of them if they’re done the right way and Joe is really wonderful. Some tracks will be just piano and vocals, some tracks will have beautiful strings and some with more of a band feel. I’ve rescheduled some of my dates and I’m hoping to have a couple of people on stage with me for those gigs. It’ll be nice not to be so lonely and it’ll take the attention off me a little bit.
Once the tour’s done, is the plan to go back and finish the album?
Pretty much, it’s a bit unclear at the moment and hopefully in April I can get back in the studio and get the bulk of the record done. It’s been a bit in and out at the moment, but I’m so happy just to be doing it, such a relief to be finally making a start.
When I look back at my first EP, I loved making it, but when I look back, I’m glad I’ve not rushed it and done an album straight away, because that’s quite a risk. There would have been so many things I wouldn’t have learnt yet and I’m more comfortable now.
One of the reasons I chose to go with Atlantic was that they wanted to give me time to keep digging and writing. I’ve done three EPs of nine tracks, but I’m writing more songs all the time.
It’s definitely not weird at all. I’m not rock and roll either. I’m very family oriented, it’s so nice to have them involved and they always have been from the word go. I wouldn’t have been able to get to any of the gigs in the early days without them driving me there. They love coming along, it’s a real pleasure to have them there. They were selling my merch last night in Hebden Bridge. I love having them with me.
Rae's official website can be found here. She is also on Facebook and Twitter.