Rai-Elle spoke to GUAP at Red Bull Studios about songwriting, UK R&B and making music relatable.
At the point of recording at Red Bull Studios, Rai-Elle had only performed her self-written tracks a handful of times, but during this performance there’s no indication of that. Months before she had dropped her EP, K.S.B. This revealed to her growing audience that not only is she an outstanding vocalist, but she is also an authentic and compelling songwriter.
The young artist has spent around ten years in the music business as a performer and cover artist. In 2017, she was a UK XFactor finalist. During her time on the show she took on classics from the likes of Mariah Carey to Lauryn Hill and showcased her distinct soulful style. Each time Rai-Elle covered a track, she turned it into slick modified and modern gold.
In person, Rai-Elle carries an aura of confidence, she’s poised, calm and composed but welcoming. Her voice is honeyed and she is almost musical in the way she speaks. In conversation, she has a clarity that shows that she can take on anything this business throws her way and more. If there’s one thing to know about Rai-Elle from this chat, it’s that she is always ten steps ahead and has a lot of great things in store.
Although our time was limited because we caught up with her in the midst of a recording session, there was no sense of imminent rush. Her calm demeanour was infectious, so the conversation kept rolling.
After our chat she launched straight back into rehearsal. During our time together here’s what we got into:
Is this your first time working with a brand like Red Bull?
Yeah! Working with Red Bull Studios is my first time working like this in regards to recording. It’s less of a brand partnership, and more just coming in to use the studio.
How do you feel about it?
I love it. This is their new studio so I’m one of the first artists to be in here which is a privilege. It’s nice, it’s spacious and the recording studio is just nice and home-like, it’s really comfortable, a really chilled area.
Do you feel like it’s easier to crack on with the recording because it’s a good environment?
Yeah definitely. Especially working with The Compozers, they’re cool guys, really nice, chilled and they’re funny. They’re also really hardworking, so working with them is just like we both just get on with pushing things along, when we’re in the studio recording, we can just keep banging things out.
Would you say you have the same kind of high work ethic?
You must have an amazing work ethic! You’ve been doing music for a really long time?
Even though I’m still young, I’ve been doing music for about, what? I mean, ten years now. That sounds so weird.
If you can work from such a young age you have to have a good work ethic.
Yeah exactly, it’s just to not stop, to keep going.
You originally started as a performer, how long have you been interested in making your own music? And what kind of inspires you to keep going?
I started performing covers and I think that’s what made me what to start. I’ve always obviously wanted to have an original song, but I think everyone that sings wants their ‘own song’ that’s theirs because you dream of people singing it back to you and performing. I think once I left XFactor, that’s when I was thinking “Yeah, now I need to start writing my own songs and moving up” because I’ve been performing covers for so long. I would say my musical inspirations like Lauryn Hill, Brandy and Old School R’n’B and their lyrical content is what inspired me to write songs like K.S.B.
Would you say the transition to making your own music was difficult or what was it like?
I haven’t actually performed my original music yet to that extent. I would say making my own music is crazy because you’re so used to just learning lyrics and then just performing it. Then suddenly you’re writing your own lyrics and working with a producer to come up with a song that you love. It’s a really different experience and I enjoy it.
Do you get really involved in the process? Are you quite involved in making the melodies?
Absolutely, I love producing and making music so I’m always next to the producer helping them make the beats and giving them my suggestions. I’ll be sitting down with my mum and we’ll be writing the song together as well, so I kind of like being involved in both parts [Producing and song writing] and I create the melodies as well.
Do you do anything to try and get you in the mood to make music?
I’m always in the mood to make music [laughs] I think listening to music makes me want to make music.
Yeah, I understand that! When I want to write I read articles from writers I love, that’s my little ritual, so do you have your own ritual you have for song writing?
I would say on the way to the studio I just listen to music that pumps you up, I listen to music that gasses me up.
Any specific tracks/artists?
I’ve got a car playlist! And I just play songs from Donell Jones to Jodeci to Brandy, just so many different artists, it just goes through all of them.
It sounds like the music you listen to really influenced your sound especially some of the artists you heard growing up. Do you have any really big influences that are in the industry right now?
Yeah definitely I think R&B is making its way back right now, it’s really popular right now and I love H.E.R. Her music is just really inspirational because she makes music that’s still got that old school vibe to it. So it’s kind of like that’s the type of music I want to make as well.
So you want an old school vibe but it still sounds fresh and new?
Yeah, exactly! Very current and modern R&B.
My take on R&B at the moment is that people have a really romantic view on the 90s and don’t always recognise the amazing stuff that’s coming out now. How do you feel about the UK R&B Scene as it is now?
I think there is still a lot of artists and I know a lot of artists, that still haven’t made it that are just amazing. For example, James Anderson, he’s an amazing R&B artist. With R&B, I think it’s just popping at the moment, it’s what’s in and I think people should just hold onto it and go with it.
With your lyrics do you think there’s messages that should really be to the forefront of the song and that the audience should look out for?
I think because I’m still young, you may have noticed in my songs I don’t talk about anything sexual or anything like that. I think it’s just fair to say that you can still have fun and still have that little crush stage without going in too deep.But to me lyrics are more about just having fun and playing around with words and teenage love.
Would you say any of the lyrics are personal or based upon things that have happen to you? Or you prefer just general messages and empowering people?
Yes, it’s just a general message like everyone has had a crush on someone so for example K.S.B, doesn’t specify I have been in this position, it’s just a song for people to sing along to and yeah, it’s nothing I’ve been through but it’s me putting myself in someone’s shoes.
I guess good song writing is being able to have a good imagination and thinking about how you can get someone to relate to the song, do you agree?
Definitely and expressing yourself and your feelings as well.
You dropped your EP not too long ago, what should we be looking out in the next year for you?
Just more music, more live performances hopefully! I want to build my fan base and make my way to the top.
And maybe even a clothing brand, not in the next year, but I would like to get into fashion retailing, I want to just branch out into different areas, maybe even acting.
Anything else you want to say?
Listen to my EP! K.S.B the EP is out now.
You can stream the live version of Rai-Elle’ K.S.B EP below: