RAYE triumphantly returns with new single ‘Hard Out Here’
PRAISE FOR RAYE
‘Hard Out Here’ is out now via The Orchard, buy/stream it here.
South London-based RAYE today returns as an independent artist, releasing her first new solo music in over a year with ‘Hard Out Here‘. LISTEN HERE.
It’s been a year since the 24-year-old blew up her career in order to rebuild it. Frustrated at the fact she’d been continually denied the chance to release her debut album by her then label Polydor – despite more than 12m monthly listeners on Spotify, seven top 20 singles and four Brit award nominations to her name, plus songwriting credits for the likes of Beyoncé, John Legend, Little Mix and Charli XCX that have landed her more than 1 billion global streams – she sent a series of tweets that shone a light not only on her own struggles but on the plight of female artists caught in an endless loop of faceless dance features and broken promises.
It was in that emotionally febrile period between posting her tweets and later being released by Polydor in July 2021 that RAYE started working on ‘Hard Out Here‘, the barnstorming, emotionally raw new single that finds her alchemising pain and frustration into an in-your-face capital-A Anthem. Taking aim at her old label, the broader music industry, the patriarchy, and toxic masculinity, ‘Hard Out Here‘ revels in its unfettered honesty.
“What you know about systems / About drugged drinks / f***ing nearly dying from addictions” she sings unvarnished over an epic concoction of scattergun beats, featherlight strings and ghostly backing vocals, laying bear her seven-year experience in the music industry.
“I’d been in that record contract for a third of my life,” she says. “It was a big change to be free. Once I had that closure, it became a journey of healing. Anger was my initial emotion.” It was in that context that she set up her mic in her makeshift studio in her living room (“no real sound booth,” she smiles) and the lyrics just poured out. “It’s super angry. I was both crying and red with rage, just writing these lyrics, and capturing how I really felt in that moment.” After years of playing the game – “The label model in the past is you put something out and if it doesn’t work pause the entire plan, reshuffle the plan, do a feature, stop everything and start over” – suddenly RAYE was able to make up her own rules, with that all-important album coming early next year.
It also meant she could disengage from the typical pop model of designing music for streaming playlists and radio whims. “I have no clue what’s going on in the charts,” she smiles, also emphasising the pleasure of being able to disengage with social media and really focus on what’s important. “I didn’t want anything to influence what I want to express. I’m trying to tell my story, and that’s what matters. I don’t want to cater to an audience – I want the audience to love me for what I’m saying and what I want to express. Hard Out Here is my story, it’s not going for the charts.” But, that inherent pop nous that’s seen her become one of music’s brightest stars and most in-demand collaborators is never far from the surface, “If you need to put yourself in that place, like if you’re in a place of suppression, put this on and remind yourself who you are and that you’re going to bounce back.”
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