Rae Morris takes some time to talk to talk to Louise MacGregor.
Walking into an off-peak Hootananny, with her wild pre-Raphaelite curls, pale skin and enormous Robins-egg blue eyes, Rae Morris is, to say the least, striking. What’s more striking though, at only nineteen, is her sheer musicality- from the way she splays her fingers on an imaginary piano while she makes a point about art, to the way she talks about going to a gig at the Emperors Ballroom, looking up and thinking, “Oh my God, I have to play here”.
And play there she did- after her own tour of Britain, she supported Bombay Bicycle Club and played sold-out gigs, from Alexandra Palace to the Emperors Ballroom in her hometown of Blackpool. She describes herself as a bit of a home girl, mentioning how difficult it was to be away from her family on her first tour. For her current tour, however (Hootananny is the first Highland date), her family are with her all the way- her brother, William (“Wills”, she says, tilting her head at a man on the opposite table with a matching froth of brown hair) is her tour manager, and her parents are trailing her cross-country “in a tiny little camper van. It’s mad.”.
She puts her success (she has already been signed to Atlantic Records and is currently recording her debut EP, and one of her songs was featured on the TV show Skins) down to being “in the right place at the right time”- she started gigging a lot in the Northwest, meeting a variety of other aspiring artists, one of whom performed with Jules Holland, and this gave her the inspiration she needed she follow her dream of performing. She admits to “needing a push”- she had been offered a place to study music at Leeds College of Music, but, after finishing her A-levels, pursued her career instead.
In her lilting accent, she talks about her music- she started writing lyrics when she was around thirteen, although she admits to only really having experiences to write about after she did “the whole “falling in love” thing”. “I’ve played the piano since I was four. That sounds awful-like my parents were pushing me into it or something. But it’s not like that- I love it”.
Her music is angst-with-brains- sharp and emotional without be sickly. She wants her album (due to be released next year) to “capture this time- me, being seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, like a documentation of these first couple of years. I want it to be a personal album, I want it to be honest and genuine… I never really expected anyone else to even like it”. When prompted to name musical influences, the first she picks is Kate Bush, and it’s easy to see why- both have those unusual voices, that wild hair, that ability to sit on stage, and just sing.
Comparing the British and American music scenes, Rae admits to being biased (‘Well, I’m a British artist, aren’t I?”) but describes British music as “having a lot to offer. And it’s just cool, isn’t it? It’s cool and doing something new, all the time.” She’s recording her debut EP with Charlie Fink (of Noah and The Whale fame), and, although she prefers live performances to studio recording, she says she has had “good experiences in the studio. They’re the kind of people I want to be around- talented and intelligent and hardworking.”
So, what will she be doing in ten years time? “I can’t imagine not doing this.” She reckons Blackpool will always be where her heart is, but, as we’re talking about a gig she played in LA, she mentions California as a possible retirement home. And if she had to pick one artist whose career she’d want to emulate? She pauses for a moment, thinks hard, and then says definitively, “Laura Marling. She’s got it right.” And so, it seems, has Rae Morris.
You can catch Ms Morris locally at the forthcoming Insider and Belladrum Festivals.