We Interview Rai-Elle: From X Factor To R&B’s Newest Independent Artist

Musical beginnings, Simon Cowell and… the UK government?


19-year-old Rai-Elle’s refreshingly distinct and compelling sound isn’t one you’ll be forgetting any time soon. Combining old school and contemporary R&B flavours, the London-native is securing herself as the one to watch through passionate vocals, timeless melodies and visuals emanating an energy that is both playful and sincere. 

After her 2016 appearance on CBBC talent show Got What It Takes? and her impressive 2017 run on The X Factor, Rai-Elle became a favourite among both the judges and the public. Going on to release her first single ‘KSB (Always On My Mind)’ and subsequent EP of the same name the following year at just 17 years old, the singer-songwriter has also released a live EP with four-piece band The Compozers, consisting of original material and soulful covers. Her latest single ‘Mistaken’ sees Rai-Elle’s alluring harmonies melt over a magnetic R&B track, as she navigates self-love and vulnerability. 

We sat down for an exclusive chat with the artist as she prepares to release brand new music from a newfound evolved and experienced perspective. 

Rai-Elle, welcome b! Let’s get it, what was the first thing on your mind this morning?
The first thing on my mind this morning was food. I was thinking about what I wanted for breakfast. 

You’ve mentioned that you first began singing in church at the age of 5. In what ways does faith impact your outlook on life? 
My faith definitely has a strong impact on the way I’ve looked at certain situations in life. I believe everything happens for a reason; sometimes I get annoyed and question when things go wrong but everything is revealed to me sooner or later because God always has a plan. 

At your X Factor audition, in which you got 4 yeses (go all the way off!!!), Simon Cowell described you as a “little canary that bites your hand off,” revealing he was surprised by your voice. How does it feel to be able to change people’s preconceptions of you through your talent? 
I love surprising people! I mean, I’m quite a small girl so people never expect powerful vocals to come out of me… and the look on their faces when I start singing is priceless. People will always judge you based on your appearance, so to be able to shock the audience and change their initial thoughts of me through my talent is rewarding. 

Your debut EP ‘KSB’ dropped in 2018, how much has life changed since then?
Life has changed quite a bit since I dropped my EP. I am now an independent artist, which is amazing as I now have full control in terms of the music I put out. The feedback from the EP was crazy, I still get heart-warming messages from people all over the world who listen to my songs to help with whatever they are going through. My song “All About U” was also played in an American TV show which drove a lot of attention to my music from people in the USA and opened a new realm of opportunities for me. Obviously, due to the pandemic, I haven’t been able to perform as much I planned to this year so I’ve had to do virtual performances, which is 
something new. 

Your new single ‘Mistaken’ is a soulful ode to self-worth, acting as an inspiration to young people worldwide. What was the motivation behind the track? 
The reason why I wrote this song was because I was going through a stage in life where I felt like my kindness was being taken for weakness. I think it’s very important to love yourself and know your worth, that way people will not get away with messing you about you can walk away if you feel like you’re being mistreated. Making this song meant a lot to me and I wanted everyone to feel like the kings and queens that they are when listening to it. 

The UK government are being called upon to protect those working in live music and events, as the industry remains in urgent need of financial aid. Why do you think these jobs are not valued as much as others, despite pretty much everyone on the planet consuming and indulging in these arts? 
I understand in order to control the spread of the virus you can’t have a large amount of people all together. However, completely dismissing the impact on the entertainment industry when there are many artists who depend on live performances and streams to get paid (this is their livelihood) isn’t okay. I think they should be valued as well as other jobs and instead of pushing it to the side, we can find ways to allow shows to go ahead safely. For example, controlling the amount of people that can enter the shows and having sections with rules put in place, just like restaurants. 

What tunes do you have on repeat right now? 
I literally have a playlist that is on repeat but it includes so many different songs. I would say my top three at the moment would be: Yung Bleu – You’re Mines Still, Come Around – Flipz, and Wstrn & Loski & Bella – Something U Like. 

What can we expect to see from you in the future? Can you give us a sneak peek? 
You can expect more live performances of original songs on my YouTube channel. I’m currently working on a project focusing on my love for R&B music. Also, I’m a bit older now so I’ve experienced more in life, which means deeper music and more feelings to express! You can follow me on Instagram (@raielle_official) for previews! 

Up Next, We Talk New EP & Taking Back Creative Control With Neo-Soul Singer Ruti