Ahead of the release of her debut album on March 5th, we* asked Welsh country-pop artist Rae Sam to tell us a little about herself and her music, and what we can expect from her forthcoming record.
Hi Rae! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers by telling us a bit about yourself and where you’re from?
I would love to! Hi everyone, I am Rae Sam, a Country-pop singer-songwriter from Wales. Although, I am currently living across the border.
When did you first become interested in music, and who were your musical influences growing up?
My earliest memory was singing in my grandparents back garden to anyone that was passing by! Music was a huge part of my family. My grandparents were singers and on my mum’s side, my great grandfather had a choir. So, you could say that I was destined to fall in love with music!
Growing up, my dad introduced me to a variety of music – The Police, Chic, Beach Boys, Bon Jovi, Paul Weller! I loved pop, Country and rock. Particularly Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Paramore, Natasha Bedingfield and Kelly Clarkson. When I was 16, I discovered John Mayer and he has remained a main influence on my music.
Could you tell us a bit about your journey as a musician so far
As soon as I was old enough I started piano lessons and learnt the guitar. I wrote my first song at 9 years old and loved learning new instruments. But I was never confident enough to go for it. When I went to University, I could only fit my guitar in the tiny room! But it was meant to be, because it inspired me to take my writing seriously. I began doing Open Mic Nights and everyone was so encouraging!
A few years later, I had the opportunity to do a mini tour in the USA with incredible musicians. It was a mix of Welsh, Scottish, Irish and Country sounds. A lot was spontaneous and I loved how wild it was! That was when Chester Thompson played drums for us one evening and then a few days later, I went to his studio to record a few songs! That month was a turning point for my music – I knew that I needed to stop doubting myself and made the decision to go for it! Not long after, I met a violinist and we started playing together. People would always ask where they could find my music and so last year I headed to the studio!
What is it about country music in particular that attracted you to the genre?
I’ve always loved the southern sound. But when I played with Country musicians, it was exciting – they brought the music to life! At the time, I felt so detached from current chart music in the UK but was loving Carrie Underwood’s stuff. Being Welsh, I love music where the person is feeling it, so I started delving into soul and blues (BB King, Aretha Franklin) and eventually came across this pocket of artists like Needtobreathe and Chris Stapleton. I was going through a really low time in my life and Country music became the only remedy. I felt safe, understood and as though I belonged. It offers something for every occasion because on the other hand, Country pop fits this feel good, upbeat mood! Suddenly, my style of writing seemed to find its place!
Your latest single, ‘Wildly Me’, was very well received on its release. Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the song, and why you think it struck such a chord with listeners?
Yes, the response has been incredible! I am so grateful to everyone who has bought and listened to it!
We can all connect to some element of the song. Personally, I’ve always struggled with feeling afraid to step out, too worried about what people think. So I strived to become a version of what I thought they wanted me to be. In the process, I lost myself. ‘Wildly Me’ is the moment where I take back ownership of who I really am. But it’s a journey and I think that’s what connects with people. We all have something that we’re holding back from and no matter where you are in the storyline, there’s always a longing within us to feel the freedom of being ourselves. Not a perfect version that we present to the world, but a wild, carefree version. The person that we are when no one’s watching – there’s real beauty in that.
You have a debut album on the way (released 5th March 2021). Could you tell us about what we can expect from ‘The Great Escape’, and how you’re feeling ahead of its release?
I am beyond excited, as well as a little nervous! Recording an album has been a lifelong dream and a few years ago, I had lost hope that it would ever happen! But it has and it’s exactly the type of music that I want to create. Huge credit to the producers, because they brought my vision to life!
On ‘The Great Escape’ you can expect a bit of everything! Catchy Country pop songs that will have you singing along, funky dance tunes, Country and blues with a bit of sass, a full on Celtic journey to my homeland, and a heart-breaking ballad! This album is a story of the journey that I’ve been on in the past few years. Escaping everything that has held me back, rebuilding my life, healing from hurts, thanking those that helped me through the tough times and boldly going for my dreams. I really hope that it helps and encourages others to do the same!
With current lockdown restrictions, it won’t be possible to tour anytime soon. How has the past year been for you and what are your hopes for the next twelve months?
The past year has been a rollercoaster! I went into the studio just before lockdown and then the news hit a month later. It did delay the process, but it also gave me time to enjoy the moment. Waiting to get back into the studio was tough, as well as not being able to launch the album as I’d hoped. But, it has honestly been a year that I will never forget! Co-writing with incredible writers from the UK and Nashville, having amazing musicians say yes to playing on the album (including one who tours with a favourite artist of mine!), having an award-winning Country singer feature on one of the tracks and then huge support from radio stations! It’s been so good that I honestly wonder what could top it!
In the next year I hope to be able to gig in person and not just virtually! I will be releasing three more tracks from the album, and then I’ll get some more writing done ready to head back into the studio!
Finally, if you could pick one female country artist to write a song with, who would it be and why?
Maren Morris – I just love her music and songwriting. She was a huge influence for my debut album and she is taking modern Country music into such an exciting direction!
Thanks for your time, Rae, and good luck with the new album.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me and to anyone that is reading this! I hope that you love the album as much as I loved making it!
To find out more about Rae Sam, visit her website here.
*Interview conducted for Belles & Gals (originally published 4th March 2021)
Featured Image (C) Rae Sam