ALL PHOTOS OF RAIGN: Miranda McDonald
I have been given the chance to chat with RAIGN…
about her new track, Out of Time, and what its story is. She discusses moving from the U.K. to L.A. and what the scene is like in Los Angeles right now; what themes and ideas inspired her album, SIGN, and what she hopes to achieve before the end of this year.
RAIGN shares her favourite memories from music and what sort of sounds she grew up around; which three albums are most important to her; how vital and special it is being up on the stage – she ends the interview by selecting a great live performance.
Hi, RAIGN. How are you? How has your week been?
Incredible. So fun, positive and exciting, thank you. You?
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hello. My name is RAIGN - but you can call me Rachel (smiles).
Out of Time is your new single. Can you talk about its origins and how it came together?
Out of Time was the first song Robbie and I wrote together - and the start of a magic collaboration. It started off as us writing an Indie-Rock song for fun, because we both loved bands in that genre, but became a doorway to the more uplifting, guitar-infused sound I wanted to explore on my album.
It is from the L.P., SIGN. What sort of themes and ideas inspired the music?
Yes! It’s track-one, actually! SIGN is really a life’s work coming together. Some of the songs started their journey five years ago and have kind of guided me through. Musically, it's a blend of orchestral, darkly-dreamy and cinematic elements mixed with my favorite euphoric synths and half-time back beats and, since the guitar was my gateway instrument to songwriting, we’ve infused my Rock and Blues roots in there too. Lyrically, I often disengage my brain and write from a subconscious place and, sometimes, what comes out actually has multiple meanings that even I have to work out.
There’s a lot of soul-searching, looking for answers or love; a journey into the unknown and coming out the other end with the euphoria you feel when you’ve found what you were looking for; found the higher perspective and gotten a much-needed sign on the road (all very deep) –but, occasionally, there’s a bit of carefree fun because life shouldn’t always be serious!
You have collaborated with a few producers and musicians on the record. How did you select the people you worked with?
My publishers and other managers and creatives I know often suggest new collaborations - the industry is supportive in that way. Sometimes, I step out of my comfort zone and work with new people but I love to work with the same handful of people and really craft something over time. I wanted to be really hands-on with the production on this record, being a musician myself, so we did this the old-fashioned way whenever we could; recording musicians live in a studio. All the strings and guitars on this record are real, not programmed, and it makes such a difference.
Is it pretty cool being based in L.A.? What is the music scene like there right now?!
L.A. is an amazing city. It’s a paradisiacal enigma full of magical opportunities but it also has its trials and I’ve seen many people come and go. I often miss London and my family and there have been times when I've wanted to go home but, every time I do, L.A. pulls me back and I’m so grateful for that. The music scene here is super-fun, very eclectic. I LOVE that you can go to the same venue to hear a rapper one night and an Indie-Rock band the next but I still have a special place in my heart for the grit and purity of the London music scene.
Do you recall when you got into music? Which artists did you grow up around?
Well. It started with my mother singing opera arias and my father playing Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, Big Band and Soul when I was very young - and so I first learned to play the violin and then the clarinet. Then, the '80s kicked in; I woke up to Wham! and Michael Jackson and sang and danced my way through the '90s listening to Pop music and '90s House.
Then, I got into the band scene and found Psychedelic-Rock, Pink Floyd; The Beatles, Eric Clapton; Bob Dylan, Oasis; No Doubt and local bands on the London scene. Let’s not skip past my short stab at mixing Drum ‘n’ Bass and U.K. Garage on vinyl decks and learning about grooves and tempos - “Enough, enough is enough already...”
But, in the end, it was Amy Winehouse’s record that got me to pick up a guitar and write my first real song and I spent the next few years playing in bars in London; sometimes making up songs on the spot. Music and singing have been at the center of my life, literally, my whole life but it didn't occur to me that I could make it my career until my mid-20s.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Well. I truly hope the fans enjoy the new album and that the energy, passion and soul-searching that went into this record radiates in a positive and inspiring way; an escape of sorts. Because that’s what music has done for me through the years: it’s kind of saved me at times and that’s what I want to give back. If, by some magic, we can defy the system and get some of this music on the radio that would be a huge blessing.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I have two standout memories - getting the call that Bob Dylan had listened to and approved of my version of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door was magic and sitting in my old Vauxhall Corsa in London two winters ago (which I still have rusting away at my mum’s house in London) and hearing my vocals played on the Annie Mac chart show on BBC Radio 1. That was an amazing moment for me as a Brit.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
That record rocked my world. It’s poetic, cosmic; abstract and incomparable thirty years later.
Michael Jackson - Bad
The first album I ever owned and played repeatedly in my bedroom until the cassette wiped clean.
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Amy’s talent, authenticity and voice are incomparable. She sang about her deepest, darkest feelings with a sense of humor and soul and I love that.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would love to support a brooding stadium Rock band like Nine Inch Nails or even Bob Dylan - It would be a totally incredible dream come true to do a duet together of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door!
My rider would be very un-Rock 'n’ Roll and very food-orientated. I’m always hungry after I perform. Well, I’m just always hungry…
How important is it being on stage and playing? Is it possible to describe the emotions you feel when connecting with fans in the audience?!
Being on stage is the moment you live for; the opportunity to really feel what the music you’ve shared is giving the audience - because they send it all right back to you. It’s love. Before you sing a ballad, there is a split second when you can literally feel the silence and anticipation radiating through the room like you’re all floating in the crystalline darkness of outer-space together and, when the verse starts, it’s as if the sun comes up and warms the room. That feeling right there never gets old. Driving all night with a sweaty band in a small bus does though. Haha.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Forget logic: take intuitive steps. Be 100% authentic, be prepared to work really, REALLY hard; be patient, don’t be afraid to hustle; remember, if you are really meant to do this, the universe will help you in ways you cannot fathom - you only need that one moment to change everything but, when it comes, you must be prepared. Keep learning, keep training; keep networking - even if it’s not in your nature – and, most importantly, always put the MUSIC first. NOTHING can happen without the music (smiles).
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I’ve been hibernating to make this record and try to stay as authentic as possible so I’m really out of touch with new music - but I'm trawling the music blogs as we speak!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
There is so much other work that happens around making and releasing music that sometimes, for me, writing a new song is my chill time. But, other than that, I love to walk my dog, go for a good meal with friends; binge-watch T.V. shows. But, my fave hobby is making clothes: I have a whole sewing studio in my garage now. I love clothes!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
YES. Please play Amy Winehouse - Take the Box (live at the BBC)