INTERVIEW: RAHH on her debut EP - ‘I Told You We’d Be Famous’

RAHH
Credit: JC Verona

Since she made her debut in 2019, proudly independent artist RAHH, who grew up in a very musical family, has already earned herself support from the likes of Spotify and BBC 6 Music and impressed both critics and fellow artists alike; so much so that she was chosen by chart-topping producers Joel Corry and MNEK to sing lead as part of their Head and Heart PR campaign.

Her music blends her soulful R&B roots with elements of electronica and lyrically catchy, thought-provoking pop. She's just released her EP 'I Told You We'd Be Famous' and is currently performing for huge audiences as support for Liam Gallagher; she spoke to XS Noize about the collection, the artists she's most influenced by and her future plans and projects.

Have you always wanted to be an artist, or did you have other career plans before realising music is what you want to spend your time and life doing? 

I always wanted to be an artist, but I was an actress previously. I got into acting as a child and continued a steady career from there, with my music career running alongside. When it was getting tricky to juggle both careers simultaneously, I stopped acting to focus fully on music, and I haven't looked back. This is where I feel at home and where I see my career long-term.

Which three bands might you say you were most influenced and inspired by growing up? How did they motivate you to forge your own path in the music world, and have your influences changed much over the years?

Growing up, I'd say TLC, Destiny's Child and Michael Jackson. But as I began writing, that changed to Amy Winehouse and Arctic Monkeys. I was hugely inspired by the style of their conversational lyrics and, in turn, Simon and Garfunkel for the same reason in a different era. Lauryn Hill played a big part with her honesty and raw emotion. Then feelings and atmospherics are inspired by artists like James Blake and FKJ. Over time, my influences have become less genre-specific and more rooted in emotion and lyrics. This is what I use to inspire my music.

Earlier this month, you released your EP 'I Told You We'd Be Famous'. Interesting title - is there a story behind it?

The title came from lockdown life and contemplation. It felt like it was going to go on forever. Everything was unstable, and we had minimal information. I began thinking how funny it was that our time here on the earth was going to become about this never-ending global pandemic and not for anything else we may have achieved whilst on the earth. It seemed ironic that the generations that became fame and influencer obsessed wouldn't be known for what they wanted to be remembered for but instead for a pandemic. It was a take on 'be careful what you wish for.'

The EP includes your latest single, "Good Tonight", but, excluding that one, which track on it would you say is your favourite and why?

"Okay" is my favourite. It's all about the lyrics and melancholic hope. I'd had these lyrical ideas for years, but they didn't fall into place until lockdown hit. It's a look at the hypocritical things we do every day and don't consider. It mentions Brexit, the environment, Virgin going to space, homelessness, cheating, and generally feeling a bit lost, but it's also a reminder that despite how fucked everything seems, we'll be OK because we're in this together.

What do you want those who hear the collection to take from it? Is there a message or particular purpose/idea to the EP? 

The songs are a look at why we're hurting and what we're doing to mask the pain. Some of them are centred about going out and getting wrecked, not knowing when to stop, and some are more reflective with reminders of the contradictions we're making collectively. I guess I'd like people to recognise themselves in some of the lyrics, but they can also just chill and let it pass by subconsciously. If you're listening to it all, I'm happy.

Will you be touring in support of the EP?

Unfortunately, not this year; my schedule is pretty hectic, but I'll be putting in some London gigs around Autumn time.

You've toured/performed with/alongside some big names, including Liam Gallagher, Nile Rodgers and James Morrison and were hand-picked by Sigala to open his energetic live shows. What are some of your favourite memories from spending time with these artists? Did they give you any advice?

The best advice I've received is from Dave Stewart. Dave asked me to join him many times to sing Eurythmics songs for his shows. He used to tell me before I went on stage with him, "GO crazy". He also wants the performance to be like nothing else and to be the best experience for the audience, no matter what happens. I'd be in the wings thinking, this is terrifying, "I'm not sure what he wants, but OK!". I did go crazy that time and every time since. To be given the gift of free reign to experiment and play with your performance in front of big audiences is incredibly rare, and I am forever grateful. Dave's main thing is just to have fun. I try to take that with me to every job on do. Relax into the fact you know what you're doing and let go. That's when the performance is the most infectious and the most enjoyable for everyone.

You've been supported by the likes of BBC 6 Music and BBC Introducing. How vital has that been for you, and of all the comments and praise you've received, what's the nicest thing someone has said or written about you? 

The support I got from Natalie Eve and Michelle Hussey at BBC Introducing was quite pivotal in my career. I was on my fourth LA trip, recording music and auditioning for acting jobs, and on this particular trip, I was having a shit time. Everything seemed to be going wrong. I was feeling lost and felt like giving up. At that point, I received notification that the track I'd written and recorded in my bedroom, then uploaded on a whim, had been played two days after upload with unbelievable praise. I was over the moon and took it as a sign. Natalie and Michelle continued to play it weekly. They invited me on the show several times and have been a constant support in my career. I'm incredibly grateful to them for that.

How do you feel about social media? Is it something you enjoy or something you tend to mostly shy away from? Would you agree that society, and the music industry, is perhaps a little too reliant on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

Honestly, I wrestle with it. I think a lot of artists do. It's hard to get your head around how important it is to the industry and how time-consuming it is when you really just want to focus on music and performance.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that it is an integral part of a music artist's life, but the positives are undeniable. It's basically your website; I've received numerous opportunities from it with people who I wouldn't normally have access to, and of course, it's a direct way to communicate with fans and create a following. That doesn't stop it becoming like a chore sometimes with the responsibility of maintaining engagement. The problem comes when it starts affecting the spark and enthusiasm of the artist because the industry is too focused on numbers and stats to even hear the music and the talent. That's when we miss out on something great.

Finally, with the EP out now, what does the rest of the year have in store for you? More writing and recording, perhaps? 

Yes, it feels great to have the EP out finally. Now I am already pouring ideas and prep into the next project and planning studio sessions to start creating and collaborating. I'm on tour singing for Liam Gallagher at the moment, so scheduling is tricky, but I'm hoping to be able to pull things together and get some focus in Autumn. The next project will be more geared towards a live show with a focus on gigging next year, which I'm really excited about.

Listen to 'I Told You We’d Be Famous' - BELOW:

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