RAYE Reveals Why Her Album Is A 'Safe Space' For 'Uncomfortable' Topics

RAYE shared why she wants her music to be a "safe space" to have "uncomfortable" conversations and the importance of being honest with herself and fans.

RAYE made the revelation during an exclusive iHeartRadio LIVE show in virtual reality hosted by EJ on Monday (June 24) only on Meta Horizon Worlds, performing songs from her debut 2023 album My 21st Century Blues.

She kicked off her set with "The Thrill Is Gone," highlighting her rich voice, easily working the crowd to get them clapping along as the bright brass section gave an incredible big-band feeling to the electric performance. She ended the song a cappella and showing off her higher register in an impressive display of vocal control before ultimately faking out the audience and coming back "bigger," building up her runs as the band jumped back in to finish the track.

Before her next song, she really showed off her vocal prowess, turning up the reverb for a stunning improvised transition as she moved into her second song of the night, "Five Star Hotels," giving British singer Mahalia a shoutout as she features on the track,

During a Q&A segment with EJ, RAYE shared how winning six BRIT Awards earlier this year felt like a "dream" that she never really thought could happen, telling EJ that she's "still shocked."

"That night was like a blurry dream," she said, adding how "ridiculously grateful" she is to every one who has listened to her music and shown her support throughout her career. "It's weird as well because you make music in a little room and obviously you have a dream of just finding people and listeners and ears that care about your music or what you have to say as an artist... That's the goal."

She also shared a story about the very first time she heard herself on the radio when she was around 17 years old, calling the experience "nuts" as she heard her song "Alien" play during a driving lesson. However, she said hearing her song "Escapism" on the radio in the U.S. for the first time was a whole new experience, saying, "I lost my mind."

Her next two songs, "Mary Jane" and the "saddest song" she's "ever written" called "Ice Cream Man," covered heavier topics like addiction and sexual assault, but she doesn't want to let the fact they are darker subjects keep her from being honest with herself and having conversations that are "not comfortable to talk about."

"I just think it's important that we start to normalize having these conversations," she said. "I think the human experience is about figuring stuff out or not having things figured out, battling addictions or your own demons or whatever it is you're fighting — body dysmorphia, paranoia issues, anxiety, depression, things that we find uncomfortable to talk about. So I wanted to make an album and have a safe space to have those conversations."

RAYE didn't let the heavier topics linger as she moved onto a more "hopeful" song called "Worth It," a track that she said was written about a man who really wasn't "worth it."

She then launched into a brief interlude of her newest single "Genesis," to the excited cheers of everyone in the crowd, bridging the gap between the R&B and soulful vibes of the chorus and the jazzy, big band energy of the verse as she sang, "I want that light in my pain, I want that light when it's dark... let there be light."

Keeping the energy going, RAYE wowed the audience with "Black Mascara," encouraging them to enjoy the song as it's meant to be danced to, "eyes closed, one hand up, two step." She then quickly threw things back to the chorus of "Ferrari Horses," a 2020 D-Block Europe track she was featured on that has gained some popularity on TikTok, before wrapping up her iHeartRadio LIVE show with one of her biggest songs, "Escapism," twerking on stage and getting the crowd to jump around.

My 21st Century Blues is available to stream on iHeartRadio.com.

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