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DJ Rae gets deep on music, what inspires her and life

House | Thursday 21st September 2017 | Arren

Rae is a lady of many talents, combining Singer/Songwriter, DJ, and producer effortlessly.

Over the past few years she’s been hammering the scene from all sides. She’s released on a number of high profile labels including Toolroom & Spinnin Deep, became the first female artist to compile and mix the Defected In The House series, and worked with a number of heavyweights such as DJ SKT, Doorly & Adam F.

She’s currently singing for the mind blowing Hacienda Classical show, touring with them all year on top of her usual work load. Last week saw her open her own label, RATED Records releasing its debut single. It was a pleasure to get the chance to chat with Rae as she shares her influences, stories from on the road and how to keep your inner calm.

Hey how are you?
I'm good thank you, the sun's shining in London!

What have you been up to recently?
It's been pretty much lock down studio every minute with gigs and travelling in between. To be honest some times the travel whacks you but without it you're sort of itchy. You need a release really because there's a lot of time spent looking at computer screens and in your own company.

Where was your last gig?
The Hacienda Classical in Brighton. I had a feeling it was gonna be a good one and the vibe was non stop from start to finish. Just hands in the air and everyone rocking. It was cold but everyone was like just sod it man, we're going for it. Then I went to play at a private party in Italy so it was a very heavy, long weekend.

Sounds like a fun one though!
It was too much fun! I'm still paying the price for it, this week's been hard work!

How long have you been performing with the Hacienda Classical show?
They asked me to come on board this year. I think we’re about 12 shows in, it’s been all over the UK at every major city pretty much and festivals like Glastonbury, the Royal Albert Hall was phenomenal. It’s ticked off boxes of venues that most artists dream about. All my career to date I’ve been playing mostly clubs, it’s just such a completely different experience. I’ve been in the UK more than any other summer but loved every minute!

What does the Hacienda mean?
The Hacienda is part of house music history and heritage. For me it was the first influence of house. My older brother was already into house and he’d leave his tapes and stuff lying around. I’d steal them and listen, it got me from the word go. So to now be at this stage in my career being on tour with them, bringing them songs that first influenced me to life, is surreal really. I get goosebumps every time I do it. I’m really proud to be a part of it. It stands the test of time and speaks for itself really. House has got full circle and is getting back to its roots, you’ve got old and young embracing it now as much as ever.

So would your roots be house music?
Definitely. It’s the genre that I’ve immersed myself into intensely. When I got into house music, I found as a clubber there was complete freedom in the music and I loved everything it stood for and still do today. As a songwriter, I do work in different genres but house music is where my roots lie and the one I always come back to!

Who else has inspired you?
I’m into loads of different music right back through every decade. My Dad was a passionate music lover and pretty much forced it on my from an early age, and I’m really thankful for that.

Artist wise; MK, he was there right at the start the scene and still relevant today. He’s a great example of someone who can constantly evolve, I mean his sound is timeless. Also Murk, Todd Terry, Master at Work. Then the big voices like Jocelyn Brown, Candi Staton, the big powerful soulful vocals.

You’ve just started your own label RATED Records, how do you feel about what you’ve got coming?
I feel as passionate as ever really. It feels like I’ve naturally been building up to this point. I’ve got a good underlying knowledge of the industry and how it works as I’ve been part of it for quite a while and working with loads of great labels. Having that creative freedom to release what I want, when I want is a special feeling.

I heard the first track from, 'My Soul'... 
It’s quite deep, but it’s got all the elements that I love about house. I just wanted the first one to reflect loads of different sides of what I love about house music. I think it sets a nice bench mark.

Any big moves for the label looking ahead?
Yeah, we’ve got the year’s releases set. There’s gonna be a release every month and to be honest with you, I’ve got so much music I need an outlet for it! It’s cool to schedule stuff and move on, I’m already working on loads of new stuff you’ve just gotta be super organised which is one thing that I’m learning as I go!

I think everyone is always learning to be more organised!!
Seriously, everyday I’m learning a new lesson. I reckon by next year I’ll be dangerously organised!

To date, what’s the most important lesson that you’ve learnt?
To never be complacent. I’d like to think I haven’t been complacent but I must have been. I always try to think no matter how good things are, to constantly think ahead and making sure I'm top of my game. Never falling back and getting lost in the hype, which is easy to do. It’s such a fast moving industry, you’ve gotta be pegging it on the treadmill.

It’s insanely fast, artists and trends come and go so quickly...
Yeah, that’s why sometimes you have to step back and ask yourself, am I really loving what I’m doing right now? If I’m loving this music, which is why I started this whole thing, continue on that trip.

What’s been your favourite party this year?
There’s no contest, I just can’t get the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury out of my head and I don’t want to. It was such a special feeling, to be at Glastonbury and to actually open that stage. It was really overwhelming, most of us nearly cried that day.

Did you enjoy the rest of Glastonbury?
Actually we didn’t get to stay there! We had another gig the next day so literally we were in and out. I did a quick scan of the grounds that the Pyramid Stage is on but it was straight out of there. I do have to be quite sensible, especially when I’m singing.

What’s got you motivated right now?
My label is just making me really excel and achieve all the things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Also everything around me motivates me as well, my friends, my family, travelling. I come back with different inspiration every time I leave the country.

Do you go travelling a lot?
Well mostly with gigs. I’ve been to Asia this year and I’m going soon for the Formula 1 after party, that’s in Kuala Lumpur. I love going to Asia. This will be my second time back to Kuala Lumpur and that’s quite a special place. It brings something fresh, it’s a really different scene. They always respond really well.

Where’s the craziest place that you’ve partied?
Always crazy parties in Ibiza. When I’ve played Pacha until the end when the Sun’s coming up and the club’s getting light. Then you start to see a really different side to the crowd and the feeling the the music has. There’s been a bunch of us in the DJ booth, people standing on ledges behind us singing along with the sun in their eyes and hands in the air - that’s quite a special feeling.

One of the craziest after parties I’ve been to this year is the Hacienda Classical in Manchester at the Albert Hall. That is one of the best venues you could ever have a rave in. Proper back to the old skool, a huge theatre full of people - back to back. It was literally like being put in a time warp back to the beginnings of house. I missed the rave period but I felt like I got it that night.

What would you do to change the world?
I would like to wipe out racism and prejudices, lets live and let live. That’s what I’ll be fighting for.

Do you think racial divisions is still quite a big issue?
I feel quite strongly about prejudices in general, if everybody just lived and let live it would be a much happier and harmonious place. This country has always stood for freedom, as long as I’ve been alive anyway. There’s a lot of good people in the world, really trying to strive for a better place. It’s been beautiful to see the response to such horrendous things that have happened. People stand up together and say, you know what, you’re not gonna beat us.

If you had a superpower, what would that be?
To be a mind-reader. That would be really handy, I’m a bit of a psycho-analyst. I’ve always been into psychology, I find it really interesting. I’d like to tune in on what people are thinking. I mean meetings would be another level!

If you had a swimming pool, what would you fill it with?
No doubt, Champagne.

I don’t really like Champagne, too dry…
Ahh, you haven’t tried the right one. There’s so much scope.

If you weren’t doing music, what do you see yourself doing?
To not be in music is so depressing for me to even think about, but in hypothetical terms I would say psychology or yoga. I could probably team up the two.

Do you do yoga a lot?
I have done in the past, it just depends on what my schedule’s doing and whether I can actually go to yoga classes. But I do yoga in my own way nearly everyday. It’s something that I’ve thrown myself into at certain points and it’s helped me out massively in life.

In what ways has it helped you?
Just in times of stress, or you’re so busy that you hardly get time to breathe and your brain is too busy - yoga’s helped me find that peace and inner calm. Also physically, it’s taught me a lot about my body and spine and certain areas where you can tension and stress again. The benefits are just endless, I can’t speak highly enough. It’s just really about it coming into your life at the right time.

Who’s the funniest person you know?
My of my bests friends, whenever we’re together we’re the only two people who have these mad-hyper spells and we go ballistic. We can laugh so hard we’re crying. Also my Dad’s really funny as well, he’s where I get my mad humour from. We’ve got a crazy streak in our family for sure! You can catch me and my Dad having banter all time, because I can be funny too! If you don’t find yourself funny I think there’s a problem. I don’t care if no one else gets my jokes, so long as I’m laughing.

What would the craziest situation you’ve found yourself in be?
On a work level it was really cool to go into Sony and perform an acoustic version of Harmony that I did with Adam F. That felt great, it was really intimate but nice to do something different. Right at the start of my career I was in the studio with Sandy Rivera making music listening to songs we both absolutely loved beings completely inspired and driven by each other. Then on a crazy level: I’ve lived in Ibiza quite a few times over the years, and without going into too much details there was one after party me and my friend still laugh about that involved a bit of running out in the Ibizan countryside totally lost!

DJ Rae
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