Interview: R.A.E – Glastonbury’s Emerging Champion

While Glastonbury may not be taking its physical form this year that has not stopped them from creating a festival to remember…

With large amounts of performances from previous years being streamed online, other aspects including merchandise and competitions have still gone ahead.

The ‘Glastonbury Emerging Talent’ competition was originally going to be cancelled but the organisers decided against to the fortune of the competition winner R.A.E.

While face to face interviews seem to be in the distant past, the internet has meant that video calls are becoming the new norm. Amber Malley speaks to R.A.E about her recent win and how lockdown has been for the artist.

R.A.E is a 25-year-old hip-hop artist who’s vibrant, unique style has led her to win the ‘Emerging Talent Competition’ and a slot on the Glastonbury main stage in 2021. This all came as a shock to the artist who was entered into the competition by her manager, having no knowledge of this herself until she received an email saying she had been shortlisted.

The 25-year-old wrote her first rap song at 10 but only decided to pursue music as a career last year. Rachel (Rae) gave the credit to her sister who was: “a nineties teen and she introduced me to all the 90’s music and that’s where it all started.” This led to her main influences being from TLC, The Spice Girls and MC Light.

The name R.A.E stands for ‘Rising Above Everything’ which she first decided on in 2017. She spoke of a time where she was: “depressed and sitting in my room and just told myself come on Rae rise above everything and thought ‘oh that works’.” While being a motivational acronym it also matches the letters of her nickname Rae which made for the perfect name.

The artist spoke of R.A.E as an alter ego of herself, she said: “I become very animated when I perform, I’m kind of like a cartoon version of me.” By using this façade it eliminates any obstructions that she may have come across because of her introverted personality.

Image Credit: Ollie Adegboye

While Rae’s music might not conform to a specific genre, the message behind the lyrics is very clear. The 25-year-old said: “The overall message is even if you are going through a sticky time there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.” She believes that while she is writing about relatable hardships in life, a joke can always be made to lighten the mood and see the brighter side of the situation.

While this rapper’s career is only just beginning, winning this competition has given R.A.E an opportunity for exposure that is one of a kind. She described the idea as of performing on the Pyramid Stage in just one year as mind-blowing and said: “I’m basically going to just prepare for the whole year.”

While Glastonbury was the biggest shock of this quarantine period, Rae has also taken this time to develop and produce new music. Her creative process involves her producer YKKUB creating a beat and then sending it across where she then listens and: “I write what the beat is telling me but always start with the chorus, the chorus tells me what the song is going to be about.”

Though the introverted rapper hasn’t struggled with lockdown itself, being stuck within the same four walls has meant that she has had to force herself to think outside of them: “It has made my writing become more creative because I have had to think outside what I have available.” Rae also spoke of how popular music may struggle through this quarantine period. The rapper said: “Artists who don’t tend to follow a trend will thrive in this period continuing to create new music, but pop music is all very similar and copied so they will struggle at this time.” Her confidence in independent artists was very evident when speaking about the creativity that these artists radiate in comparison to mainstream musicians.

Though lockdown may have had a positive impact on some artists, the negative effects for the music industry are likely to be seen impacting music venues. Without this needed income from live music, some venues may struggle to survive. Rae spoke of the importance of these smaller venues by saying: “For artists on the come-up they need the experience of a small venue otherwise they will be out of their depth thrown onto the bigger stages.” The artist spoke fondly of her experiences including performing at Shoreditch Box Parks event Girl Gang to support upcoming female artists.

Though Rae has only just broken into the music industry the presence of black female artists is more important than ever. The black lives matter protests have brought attention to inequalities around the world and the music industry is not exempt. R.A.E believes that: “darker-skinned women’s music is not as pushed which is really sad, they are pushed onto the sidelines.”

The Black Lives Matter movement is about provoking change and when speaking to Rae she said: “The only way it can get better is by putting people of colour in the room. Put them in the spaces where they can give opportunities to people of colour.”

Rae is an artist coming to the attention of the public with her spin on 90’s hip-hop and R&B with her vibrant sounds. Although Glastonbury Pyramid stage may be a year away, the development she can make within the year will only lead to more success.

By Amber Malley

Feature Image Credit: PRS For Music

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