‘I’m angry, I’m raging’: how Raye took on her record label – and won
After Polydor refused to release her album, the rising pop star spoke out. Now, newly independent, she’s ready for a fresh start
Towards the end of June, while waiting to be interviewed on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, Raye found herself desperately trying not to cry on live TV. With more than 17 million monthly listeners on Spotify, seven Top 20 hits to her name and songwriting credits for the likes of Beyoncé, John Legend and Little Mix, the south Londoner’s career appeared to be going from strength to strength. But then, on a lumpy turquoise sofa in a Shepherd’s Bush studio, the rictus pop star smile started to wobble. There to promote her dance bop Call on Me, – the latest in a long line of make-or-break singles – she found an innocuous query about the status of her elusive debut album triggering emotions she had suppressed for years. Two days later, sitting alone in her bedroom, she opened Twitter and shattered the illusion for good.
“I have been on a 4 ALBUM RECORD DEAL since 2014,” she vented to her 50,000 followers. “And haven’t been allowed to put out one album.” She detailed how her “music sat in folders collecting dust”, and were being gutted, with songs passed on to other artists “because I am still awaiting confirmation that I am good enough to release an album”. Aware there was no turning back with her label, Polydor, she added: “I’m done being a polite pop star.” In mid-July, she announced she had been released from her contract: “Today I am speaking to you as an independent artist.”