“I’m from Blackpool, I was recording in LA, that doesn’t happen to most of us…” – hmv.com talks to Rae Morris
You’ll have heard Rae Morris on your radios and stereos before, but perhaps not acknowledged it was her. Like Sam Smith, Jessie Ware and Foxes, she’s come up through collaborations, providing vocals for the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Clean Bandit and Fryars.
Still only 21, Morris is now ready to go it alone with her debut album Unguarded. It’s a delicate record, full of swirly instrumentation and clicky beats, but with Morris’s voice where it should be, front and centre.
We sat down with her to chat about recording in LA, working with a super producer and hitting festival season hard…
When did you start work on the album?
“I can’t really put a time on it. It’s my first album so I’ve been working on it for as long as I’ve been writing. I was 17 when I wrote the first song that’s on there, so I guess that’s four years. I think all of that time has been part of a journey and a process towards the album.”
Were you keen to show your journey and have songs from throughout that four-year period?
“It was really important for me to keep the early stuff in there. There’s actually a track on there called ‘For You’ which is the first song I ever wrote. I think it’s really important to know what you have grown and that those early days are documented and people can see how you’ve grown.”
Where did you record the album? And did it take a long time?
“I went to Los Angeles and did this three-month period out there. We did six weeks of recording and tracking and the rest of the year was just adding bits to it. So it took a long time, but it was mostly done in one go.”
What was it like to be recording in LA?
“It was wonderful. I’m from Blackpool, I was recording in LA, that just doesn’t happen to most of us. I got to work with amazing musicians and all these great people. It was the most inspiring time of my life.”
You worked with Ariel Rechtshaid, who’s worked with the likes of Haim, Sky Ferreira and Beyonce, what was he like?
“Ariel’s amazing. He’s just wonderful. He’s a great friend now and the whole thing just felt more like we were hanging out than working.”
What’s he like as a producer? Is he a disciplinarian or laid back?
“He’s incredibly laid back. That’s the California lifestyle though isn’t it? It was really helpful though, I felt relaxed and he made being in the studio never feel like a chore. My label suggested him to me and I’m so grateful. I never knew about producers, I had no idea what they did, but as soon as I went out to meet him I knew he was a good fit. I had no idea of how many famous people he’d worked with though, I’d have been a lot more nervous if I had.”
What was the most difficult song to record on the album?
“That was ‘For You’. I care about that song so much and it needed a very delicate touch, but also to be pushed to its extremes. It took us a long time to get it right.”
How would you describe the album lyrically?
“For me, it’s a diary. It’s a series of diary entries, my lyrics are really honest, and I never overthink them. I don’t think about the consequences of what I write. I’m a serial jotter, I write stuff down all the time, I’m forever writing down my thoughts, it’s a weird kind of therapy.”
Are you a prolific songwriter?
“I can’t say I am. I’d love to be one of these people who writes a song a day, but I can’t. I try to do something every day; even if it’s just a few lyrics.”
Did you end up with more songs than you needed for the album?
“Yeah lots, we did 16 in America and more after that, so we ended up cutting a lot out. I really wanted it to be 10 tracks, but I had to do 12, I just couldn’t cut down that far.”
You’ve got Fryars on the album, but no other collaborators, you’ve come up singing with other people, so were you keen to keep the guest spots to a minimum?
“I didn’t think about it like that, but I am very pleased it’s worked out like that. I love ‘Cold’, the track I did with Fryars and I didn’t want to water it down with loads of collaborations.”
What are your plans for taking the album out live?
“I’m touring in February, which is great because it’s right after the album comes out. We’re rehearsing now and making sure we get the songs as close as they can be to the album.”
Have you got a busy festival season planned?
“Festival bookings are slowly coming through and I want to do as many as possible. I had a great summer last year, but mostly with other people, so I’m only looking forward to it being me.”
Rae Morris’s debut album Unguarded will be released into hmv stores on Monday (January 26th). It is available for pre-order now in our digital store by clicking here.