In 2015, Rae Morris was one of the year’s breakout stars with her critically-lauded debut album Unguarded.
Nearly three years later and she’s currently putting the final touches to its long-awaited follow-up, which includes her shimmering new single Do It. It’s a pop release that, if you haven’t listened it yet, you really should do so immediately.
Gay Times caught up with the Blackpool singer-songwriter to talk about her new music, coming to terms with her sexuality at a young age, and how she found herself writing a song that would be perfect for Taylor Swift.
Congratulations on the release of Do It – the song is a slight change in sound for you, so what made you head in that direction?
It happened really naturally. The song was written at a time I was writing a lot and in amongst the songs we were making, it isn’t a drastic change. Once you put a song out into the world, you forget that people haven’t heard all of the other stuff that has happened to get to that point, so maybe it’s a bit of a different direction. For me there was an energy and excitement at the time it was written and it’s really necessary to put that cheeky energy into the song because that’s what was happening when we made it.
What’s the tee behind the track?
Fryars, who I’ve collaborated with a lot, was working with me on this new music. He worked on a song from my last album called Cold, and this felt like a part two of that song. We had started to see each other in a romantic sense at that time, so it was quite fun that we were able to put our actual circumstance into the song. It ended up being quite a personal track.
Are you ever apprehensive about oversharing personal moments in songs?
Not really, no. For me, there’s a line that I wouldn’t cross. I wouldn’t share smaller details or very personal things. I like to be very honest and put everything out there. People like to know about my life, the people in it and the things that happen. I’m totally fine to tell the truth about things, but I think there can be a point where it’s too much information. But that point is probably different for every artist.
When actors work, they get to create a character and be someone else, but for musicians they have to sell themselves. Is that something that came naturally to you, or did you have to get used to it?
I definitely had to get used to it. When I first started doing interviews, people would ask me about things and I would struggle to know what to tell people and what to hold back. You do get used to it, but my style of writing hasn’t changed. I think it’s important not to adjust what you say because you’re worried what people will think at the end stage. You have to think about the song as you’re writing it, and not worry about the after effects.
In 2015, you mentioned you had a relationship with a woman when you were younger. What has your journey of self-discovery been like?
It’s been an interesting journey. In my first album Unguarded, there was a lot of that feeling and emotion in it. I felt really young and exposed because I’d spoken about relationships a lot in the music. I enjoyed speaking about sexuality because my younger fans can know my story. I had a really intense and slightly difficult relationship that I wrote about, a lot. She happened to be a woman.
I think of myself as being quite fluid and I fall in love with who I fall in love with. I was still writing about the experience at the beginning of this album cycle. When you have a very deep relationship, it stays with you. It’s definitely something I’m still working with and putting it into my music.
Is there a particular song of yours you would recommend listening to for someone struggling with their sexuality or who is thinking about coming out?
The whole of my first album is about that experience, but the title track Unguarded is particularly emotional and would be fitting for that situation. There’s a lyric that says ‘colour me in any colour that you want’ and that could be referring to people putting a stamp on you for your sexuality. The idea of being coloured in seems really appropriate to me, I change and adapt and move in different ways. I think for people who are exploring gender and sexuality they could relate to that.
Right then, when are we getting this new album?
It’s all finished. I’m working on finishing the visuals for the sleeve and artwork. That’s actually one of my favourite bits. The album will be out early 2018, it’s really exciting!
Are Reborn and Do It a good indication of what’s to come?
Yes I think they are. They represent a couple of different styles. There is a variation of sounds on the album, so Reborn is darker and more electronic and Do It is more energetic and playful. There’s some ballads that are more similar to the first album, too. It’s quite wide, but it feels very me and I’m really happy with it.
Did you experiment a lot with this record?
Yes, we did. We made a lot of music, probably about 50 songs. We went pretty pop actually, there’s songs that could’ve been perfect for Taylor Swift or a country artist. They were great but not for me. It’s really cool to experiment in these areas, and then maybe decide ‘nope, too far!’
What happens to those songs now – would you send them to Taylor Swift?
Yes, definitely. I love the idea of doing that, but it’s a lot harder to do than you’d imagine. If TayTay happens to be reading this article, I’ve definitely got a few songs for her! But I also think it’s so important, now more than ever, for artists to be very involved in their own music. I think it’s harder now just to pass them on to somebody, but I’ve got some pop songs if anybody wants any!
What do you think are the biggest challenges music artists face in 2017?
The music industry has changed a lot. I’ve had to adapt a little bit even since 2015. The biggest thing that I struggle with is the need to be doing everything, all the time. With the nature of social media and the ways people find music, you need to be active at all times.
I love social media, but when it becomes a full-time job it can be quite challenging. I need to be sat at the piano writing and being creative. It can be difficult to find the balance. But it’s also really good to get to message fans directly! There needs to be a mid-way point between being creative and promoting the music.
Social media can, in some ways, dilute an artist’s aura of mystery. How do you find a balance between what to put out there and how much you should hold back?
I’m from Blackpool and I consider myself to be a pretty normal and down-to-earth person, so I don’t worry about mystery. I love to get to know everybody. It’s more making sure that I prioritise the making of the music for everyone to enjoy, over being online all day long. And for our mental health, too! The screen-time spent on our phones is going to have detrimental effects, so we do need balance.
What does 2018 hold for you?
I hope there will be a tour for the album, but I don’t know about that yet. I think it’s all being planned. Hopefully I’ll get to tour the record and put together an amazing show for everybody. I want it to be quite big and theatrical, I want people to have an experience. That’s my aim.
Rae Morris’s new single Do It is available to download and stream now.