fifteen minutes with... rae morris

Where we ask pop music commentator Michael Cragg to ring people for fifteen minutes and no seconds. Today it’s the turn of the very good Rae Morris, Blackpool’s number two popstar and the singer behind the year’s best single, Do It.

by Michael Cragg
08 November 2017, 8:30am

Hello Rae Morris. How are you?
I'm good thank you.

If you could give 2017 a Pitchfork-style mark out of 10, what would it be?
I'd give it an 8.8.

Oh! That's a Best New Music. Or Best New Year. Or something.
It's up there and it's not even over yet. It's been good.

Would you like to re-live a particular month from the year?
August was pretty good because it felt like I was doing quite a lot. I like to be busy. Not too busy, but I like a medium level of busyness. January through to June was relatively quiet because I was tying up loose ends with the album, but August was peak fun times.

Let's talk about music -- what's your favourite combination of notes?
Ooh… I like a C minor chord. So I guess that's a C, an E flat and a G. Is that right?

Don't ask me! I'm a music journalist so I know nothing about music.
Okay, I'm going to pretend that that's 100% accurate. But I love that chord because it's a little bit sad but it's still got a glimmer of hope to it.

Who is your favourite boyband and why?
You know what, I really love Boyzone.

Oh dear.
It's in my mind because I was in the studio yesterday and they were in the room next door and it really took me back to sitting in front of a telly when I was a kid and watching VHS videos of them.

Did you get to hear Ronan's dulcet tones through the wall?
I didn't. I saw a bit of him through the glass, which was thrilling.

Which bit of him? His nose?
It was actually just his shoulder and arm. It could have been anyone actually.

Just a man. What was the last song you heard where you thought, 'seriously though, what the fuck is this?'
Oh man, I'm going to say it… It happens a lot… I heard… No actually I can't, I'll get in trouble.

But it could be a positive thing too, because sometimes you hear a song and think 'what the fuck is this?' but in a good way. Has that happened?
It happened with Rihanna's Wild Thoughts. At first I couldn't believe they'd used that sample [of Santana's Maria Maria] and then as I heard it more I did feel like it was maybe slightly good. The sample made me feel a bit on edge for some reason.

You've released two singles this year but there's no news on the second album as yet -- when can we expect to hear it?
It's coming really soon, but it will be early 2018. Haven't locked in a date yet, but it's on its way.

The title is out there on the www, but has it been officially announced?
No, I ruined it! I was playing some gigs and I got too excited and announced a new song as the title track, Someone Out There.

If you could sum up the album using a colour, an animal and a meal you might order at a Harvester that would be ideal.
(Laughs). Okay the colour would be a really bright pink. The animal would be a squirrel. It doesn't make it sound very exciting but there's something jumpy and energetic about them. For the meal -- it's the full Sunday roast.

Did you used to go to the Harvester salad cart? I hate salad but I found it really exciting for some reason.
I did that at Pizza Hut. So exciting. At the Harvester I'd just go for the main meal.

Do It is amazing in ways I can't quite fathom. How did that song come about? Walk me through the creative process.
It was a time when [producer/artist] Fryars and I were writing a lot of music and we had been for about six months already. I'd go round to his and focus on that and watching First Dates and eat Nando's. It was also the time we were transitioning from being just friends to going out with each other, which was really wonderful and exciting. It felt strange not to write about it seeing as we were writing about everything else.

Last time I checked, the song wasn't number one in the UK, which feels like an oversight. Do you care about chart placings?
I do definitely care. I'm not very good at even working out where to go to see the charts to be honest, so Fryars handles all of that. It was number 1 in Bermuda for a moment, which did really excite me. I'd love to go on holiday there and play a little gig.

The DIY style of the video makes me quite anxious. Like, what if no one wanted to take part?
It's interesting you say that because I'm not a massive extrovert, or not as extroverted as I seem to be in the video, so going up to strangers busking or whatever felt a little out of my comfort zone, but I guess that made for the drama of it all.

Your latest press release describes you as "Blackpool-born artist", which is factually correct but quite interesting to make it a thing. Are you proud of your Blackpool heritage?
Definitely. I didn't request it be made into a thing, but it's definitely who I am. It shapes a lot of decisions I make and it's always at the back of my mind that I shouldn't get too pretentious because I am from Blackpool. One thing I always think about is that when I first moved to London I noticed my accent changing a little bit and I think it's because I'm musical. I've heard that if you're musical your accent quite easily slips into other people's. It really got to me for a while, because I was worried I was turning into a faux-Southerner. It's really important to me that I retain the morals of the north, which I think are different. Just a different outlook on life maybe. Everything's a little simpler, in a nice way.

If I were to visit Blackpool for a weekend, where should I go?
Oh wow. Firstly, we'd get off the train at Blackpool North -- I'd be your guide -- and we'd go to the Cottage Chippy, which is the best fish and chips restaurant on the planet. Just to add, I am on the wall there, they've got a picture of me in there.

Is [Blackpool-born] Little Boots on the wall?
You know what, I don't know. She should be. She's still the number one pop star from Blackpool.

So what's next on the tour?
Okay so then we'd go down to the north pier on the promenade. It's really beautiful. We'd look out into the bleak sea. Then we'd go further south and go to the Pleasure Beach, which is a tourist attraction everyone should go on.

I'm not sure I can go on rollercoasters because I'm so tall I might get decapitated.
Can you not? Is that a thing?

I just don't fit in the cart things.
I never thought about that. Okay, we'll go to the Blackpool Tower ballroom and watch the dancing. It's got high ceilings.

Do It is out now.

Rae Morris
do it
the north