At the wonderful Somersault Festival a couple of weeks ago, we caught up with our pal Rae Morris, to see how she’s been getting on since the release of her fantastic debut record Unguarded, discuss recent collaborations and find out what’s on her horizon…
One of the earlier shows you played and came to the attention of a lot of people, was at Night & Day in Manchester (our editor’s old promoting stomping ground!) five years ago. Since then, what have the last couple of years been like for you?
I think Thank Folk For That were the first online site to write about me and it’s been really crazy ever since – it’s gone very quick! It’s weird to think that it’s been five whole years since that show; I’ve done quite a lot in that time but it’s hard to get that perspective in your head. I was just gigging for a long time and haven’t really stopped. I of course made the album in between, but a lot has changed.
Do you feel your music has changed with that?
I guess the word I would use is ‘developed’. It has moved forward and expanded. I hope that everything that was there when I first started is still there, I guess I don’t over think things as much now. That gig at Night & Day – I remember just being very nervous and I couldn’t really enjoy myself because I was so on edge, but now I just relax and enjoy it.
Would you say that over the past few years, your influences have also developed with your music?
They’re the same ones and I still have the core influences that I had then, but I’ve also be inspired by other people along the way. I guess people like Björk have been added to my spectrum of artists. In the beginning I just loved people because of who they were as a person, like Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush, but then I started to listen to other people for other reasons. So, Björk for the production and inspiration when I was making my album, and bands like Cocteau Twins have just been added to the list.
You still seem to have maintained a sense of yourself in all of that. How do you maintain being Rae Morris amongst all of the music?
Not to listen to people too much, and not to become too obsessed. I’ve never been one of those people that is obsessed with somebody, I never really had band posters on my wall when I was younger, I was always just open to everything. Having a really clear sense of self-awareness away from music as well – as a person and an actual human is just as important. I like to spend a lot of time with my family, I feel like myself when I’m with them.
Unguarded was released earlier this year to much acclaim – how have you reacted to the reception it’s received?
I was so thankful for it! Everyone gets scared about their debut album and it’s a kind of pressure that’s a bit much. It’s become this thing where if your debut album doesn’t do this big expected thing, then it’s fairly blah – but it shouldn’t be that way because really all it’s about is people listening to it. I felt so lucky that a lot of people responded to the record and were so positive and kind.
You’ve collaborated with artists on and off the album, with a feature on Bombay Bicycle Club’s So Long, See You Tomorrow, and Fryars on yours. Would you say collaboration is a critical part of what you do?
I think it’s become that. At first I didn’t and was very solitary in liking to do things on my own and I used to use my writing as a diary. I still do in a way but I think I’m a lot more open with it now. Watching people around me, a lot of my favourite people have collaborated, like Feist and the Broken Social Scene. With collaborations it’s nice to feel like you belong to a thing. Definitely people like Bombay have taught me that it’s good to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other.
And are there any future collaborations in the works?
Not right now! I’m doing quite a lot of writing at the moment and I’m going over to LA this week to do some more, so it’s now a wonderful period where I have nothing specific to be working towards. I’m just opening all windows and being really creative and free.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
I’ve always been dying to work with Kate Bush, so that’s my ridiculous one that I’m pretty sure will never happen! Producer wise, I’m a massive fan of John Hopkins who I saw at Glastonbury and was really blown away. I’m really into electronic producers at the moment.
So the next few months are mainly aimed towards writing?
It’s the same as this, which is writing during the week and festivals at the weekend, which sees me through all the way to the Autumn. It works really well. It’s quite strange to be in the studio during the week and then to suddenly be on stage during the weekend. I think the dramatic shift in emotions in that is quite good for the creativity. It’s almost like having cold water thrown on you all the time!
You’re getting more mature in your music and how you approach things. Is there a vision for the next few years to how you’d like things to pan out?
I think my vision is to expand on what I’ve done so far, and that’s always been my way of doing things. To let them naturally develop. We take in things as we grow and are inspired by things we see in everyday life, so the plan is to take it to the next level and do things with conviction.
Rae Morris plays a number of festival shows, including Bestival, in the next few weeks, before heading out on a headline UK tour. For all dates, head here.
Interview by Simi Abidakun