After a brief hiatus, a departure from her long-standing record label, and the birth of her baby daughter, Rae Morris is officially back onto our playlists with the announcement of her new album, Rachel@Fairyland — due on July 8th. Released alongside her featuring track, “Running Shoes”, the album promises to be one of Rae’s most authentic and personally-driven projects yet. And, judging by the soul-baring sentiments of “Running Shoes”, she delivers exactly that and more.
Posing as a looking glass into Rae’s new musical universe, “Running Shoes” features twinkling synths which usher in a Disney-inspired feeling of magic and escapism, while her honey-suckled vocals tease the soundscape. The chorus, though uptempo in nature, features on a slowed-down production — creating an audible depiction of Raw’s new journey, where she has taken the time to get to know herself as an artist better.
The track and album follow the release of her dreamlike single “No Woman Is An Island”, which Rae explains was inspired by the time, “Someone at my old label described me as ‘an island’, because I didn’t go to enough parties or whatever. But really you only share yourself with others if you feel you’re being respected.” Carving a lane for women and female artists who have been made to feel like they have no place within the industry, Rachel@Fairyland offers a magical safe space where all forms of artistry are celebrated and cherished.
To read an exclusive interview on the album from the artist, head below…
Hi Rae! How are you doing? How has this past year been for you?
I’m good thank you! It’s been eventful. This time last year I was about eight months pregnant. The spring weather is reminding me of that time, waddling about, trying to get things finished before the baby came. It’s been amazing getting to know her and figuring out how to juggle all of the elements.
How did you first get into music, what sparked the interest?
I always played piano, encouraged by my parents from a young age. I gradually started to discover music I loved that wasn’t classical and wrote melodies and lyrics in my early teens. Watching Jools Holland on TV made me want to write my own songs and perform them. I loved the live element… alongside the glamour of good outfits and lighting. I became obsessed from that point and everything happened super quickly after that. It’s amazing what being naive and passionate can do.
Where are you from, do you think your home town impacted your sound?
I’m from Blackpool! And definitely, yeah! I think your roots stay with you no matter what. Sometimes that can be a curse for people but I feel really lucky that I look back on my upbringing with fondness and positivity. Growing up in Blackpool has given me a good perspective on things. I miss being there 100 percent of the time but go back often to visit my family and help with House of Wingz & Skool of Street, the street dance charity I’m patron of. I got quite into ‘found sound’ whilst making this new music. We recorded one of the Blackpool Tower organists playing some of “I do like to be beside the seaside”. I felt really reflective whilst writing this record so wanted to include literal sounds from my childhood.
You last released music back in 2018, how come you took such a long break? Was there a particular reason?
It’s a combination of taking my time and waiting for the right time I think! I started making new stuff almost straight after touring the second album. It took me about a year to regain focus and build a new team after being dropped by my first label. I needed head space. The album was recorded at our home studio (with my husband Fryars producing) and was finished just days before the first lockdown… so that put the breaks on for a bit longer. I wanted to create the visuals I’d been dreaming up and wait until things were less weird to start putting things out. Oh, and the baby too.
And now you’re back, talk us through this new era, what can we expect?
Obviously I’m a bit older and I feel the experiences I’ve had up until this point have been so valuable. I know who I am now and what I want from a career in music. It’s the greatest privilege to get to do this and I’m very done with any nonsense… anything other than just pure creativity. This album is musically rich, filmic, orchestral and buzzing with my influences — music I’ve been absorbing all my life. I worked with an incredible arranger Sean O’Hagan who brought woodwind and harp magic to the table. It’s old fashioned but hi-fi sounding. I think where I’m at too! I kind of wish I was alive in the 50’s to experience the great style and originality but 2022 is also fun and exciting.
“No Woman is an Island”, talk us through your mindset approach this single?
This was the first song I wrote as a totally free agent after eight years of being signed to a major label. The experience of that was a little traumatic and I needed to put all of my feelings into a song. I was asked to be everything at once. Women get that a lot. It’s good to be independent and out on your own but don’t be too independent because that’s just rude! That kinda thing. Some record label exec told me I should be smiling more and going to more parties. I hated that. I got it off my chest and moved onto new, brighter pastures with good people who don’t focus on stupid things like that.
It focuses on the complexities of being a modern woman, why did you decide to focus on this?
My job is to write songs about the things I’m going through. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a woman who isn’t experiencing challenges in their private or work life. We’ve come a long way but things are still tough at times. The music industry is still really focused on women being young and hot basically. That’s how music gets sold. I’m 29 and have a baby so I’m pretty far away from the ideal in terms of the typical pop music artist. But maybe that shows stuff is changing for the better. I still get to do this interview and go on tour and put out a record. There should be no question about it… but I’m grateful for it.
What do you hope people take away from your music?
I always feel most satisfied when people say my music has helped them through a meaningful time in their lives. That makes it all seem worthwhile. I’ve been very honest and literal in the lyrics of this album. It’s fun and a bit scary to put it all out there like that. I hope people can relate to the themes and feel comfort or laugh or just enjoy putting it on to soundtrack their day. That’d make me very happy.
And you have an album on the way, what was your mindset going into this project?
I felt pretty lost at the beginning of it to be really honest. My confidence was knocked by being dropped and I had to reevaluate my reasons for continuing to make music. I very quickly reconnected with all the parts of my job that I love and started to write new music in a very open and free way, at home with my husband. Just the two of us most of them time. By the end of the process, I felt more confident than ever about everything. Having a baby has doubled that depth of understanding and purpose. It’s so cool, I’d recommend it to everyone.
Who would you say inspires you?
All the females in music who have given it a good go. Whether successful or not, it’s hard putting yourself out there. All women generally. Mothers… Parents… Fathers…. Carers… Partners. I’m really in awe of parents at the moment. It’s a big job and they definitely don’t get the right credit. I still love artists who’ve been making records in their own way for years and years. Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom… true creatives, sharing themselves over the years, taking us on the journey with them. I want to be like them. But in my own way, of course.
What are most excited for? What’s next for you?
Putting out my third album in July is going to be the highlight of 2022. Marla (my daughter) turning a whole year old in June will be a close runner up. We’ve got some festivals in the diary that I’m really looking forward to. The afternoon is a great time to get pissed as a parent so festival season will be perfect for that.