Raelle is a singer from South London and she has just released her latest single “Grace” available to stream everywhere. She agreed to chat with me about her music career, and how it is to move to London from a small countryside town.
When did you start creating music ?
I think I started creating music 3 years ago, but I didn’t release anything until 2 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing, I was learning as I went on. Just learning on the job.
Do you feel like in those 3 years you’ve found your sound ? If so, how ?
I think now I know my sound, in the beginning I had an idea but I wasn’t too sure but I think now for sure I definitely found myself. I think it’s just kind of whatever makes you feel home and whole and fulfilled the most. I really have been studying different kinds of tracks like house tracks, electronic tracks but I think the one that makes the best kind of music is neo-soul. My new stuff is very orchestral.
I come from a very musical family, I’ve got 3 sisters and they’re all singers or actresses or super creative. I think I started singing in church when I was young and then I trained as a classical singer around 10 Y.O, so I did that and then I realised I didn’t wanna do classical music. I’m always listening to music, it’s the one thing that brings me unlimited joy, I love it and I’m really happy to be able to do it.
What do you want people to feel when they listen to your music ?
I definitely want people to feel exactly how I’m feeling at that moment, which is really hard to do because you can do it with lyrics but I think the majority of emotions come from the composition. Everything is done with an intention, every single word is intentional, just so I can try to convey that feeling across to someone. And sometimes a feeling is not one feeling, most of the time it’s like a whole situation.
There are some things you can’t really put into words but music does an amazing job in describing it. It’s the whole reason as to why I do music because I don’t know everyone who’s listening to my music but we still kind of know each other in a way, we’ve got this kind of connection. I think that’s what musicians try to do, connect with their audience.
What are the themes you sing about ?
Unfortunately, a lot of my songs are sad, but I’m not a super sad person. Everyone’s had sad times, obviously, and I find it easier to sing about the sad time. I think the sadness kind of sticks with me more than a super happy situation.
Your latest single is called “Grace”, what was going through your mind when you created it ?
It was a very calm day, Gabe (the producer) sent me the first little thing that he wrote and the little base lines with the drum beats on top of it. I thought it was really good and then what I actually did is I wasn’t really thinking about what I was saying, it was honestly like a freestyle. There wasn’t too much thought, it just came out of my mouth.
I think it’s about abandonment, and it’s about feeling lost and completely by yourself. You’ve fallen into this pit of sadness and you can’t find a way back up, you don’t even know how you’ll be able to find a way back up. The term “grace” is my note to my religious background, because I grew up really catholic and I used to pray a lot and ask God for help. Finding grace is a bit about finding God in yourself and asking yourself for that kind of God-like saving.
Speaking of abandonment, I saw on your Twitter that you wanted to connect with more black people who didn’t grow up in a large city and who do not seem to fit into what is considered the socially acceptable “black Brit”. Did you feel abandoned when you moved to London because of that ?
Yes definitely. I think I grew up feeling very isolated and feeling abandoned. I guess being from a black community I was meant to find a home but I realized I can’t force people to act how I want them to act towards me.
Being from a small countryside town and moving to a large city as a black person, I was a different kind of outsider because we looked the same but apart from that we didn’t have anything in common. I found it so hard to blend but as soon as you find your people then it’s okay, and there are definitely people for everyone. That was kind of the first thing I thought when I moved into London. I write my music with like a year delay so grace is kind of how I was feeling a year ago.
So what do you think is the acceptable “black Brit” ?
It’s really weird, I’ve been having issues with that kind of exact problem in the music industry. I don’t think that the people in the music industry see me as a black musician. There’s this invisible box they created that they will put almost black people making music in. They can only understand black people’s music in this one dimension. They can only understand black people making one kind of music which has to be R&B/hip hop/drill.
I don’t know if you’ve seen this on TikTok, there’s an indie artist called rachel chinouriri. She does pop and she literally has to fight to the nails just to get herself recognized as an indie pop artist and they love to put her in the R&B category. If you don’t fit into this one sound they’re not really looking at you and you really have to shout to make your voice heard. They won’t play your music unless you fit into what their preconceptions of what you should be are. and I think that’s what I’m struggling with.
There are so many black people existing within music you would’ve thought that there’d be room. I feel like people in the music industry need to understand that black people are juste PEOPLE with brown skin and that they can make any kind of music. Once the music industry gets that sorted, it’ll be good.
To end this chat on your music, what do you have planned next ?
My next single is going to be released in the summer. It is going to be a bit more jazzy I guess and it’s got a summery fresh vibe. That’s all I can say for now…
by Elena Gaudé