Ray BLK is as authentic as they come. Delivered with uncensored vulnerability, her soul and R&B influenced records speak of the complexities she has experienced with men, the music industry, and life in her “hood” of Catford, South London. Dubbed BBC’s 2017 ‘Sound Of’ winner, she joins an alumni of winners including Adele, Sam Smith, and Jessie J. However, unshaken by her ongoing successes, Ray BLK’s latest single ‘Patience’ is a confirmation that she’ll continue to walk at her own pace regardless of how enticing the industry can be.
So, you’ve just released a new single called ‘Patience’. Tell us a bit about what you were feeling when you wrote this record.
At the time I was in LA thinking about how my career had been going in what felt like a steady pace, from doing loads of auditions and being involved in all things music as a child and now to the point of being in LA doing studio sessions. It was kind of surreal and it reminded me to always be patient, have faith, and not rush anything—especially not for a quick buck.
I read somewhere that you can only write from experience. What aspects of your life are you most inspired by?
I think I’m most inspired by the little things we all go through in life and learn from. Like learning how to get back up when you’ve been kicked down, having patience, learning how to love yourself after heartbreak. I’m also very inspired by the people around me. My family and friends are such huge part of my life sometimes—I write about what they’re going through or things I learn from them.
You’ve put out a few singles already. How do you manage to stay inspired?
My music is taken from life experiences – mine or my friends – so long as we’re all living and going through trials and tribulations, there’ll always be something to write music about.
How do you usually carry out the songwriting process? Is there a way that really works for you?
I always write to a beat. Rarely [will I] be walking on the street or doing something and have an idea pop in my head. Usually I like the beat of the song to lead the way and see what kind of emotion it evokes or what it makes me think about visually and then something I’ve experienced or thought about will come and I’ll write about it in retrospect.
I love ‘Chill Out’ with SG Lewis and I appreciate the sheer vulnerability you express in the lyrics. I feel like there’s definitely an interesting story behind this track. Tell us about that.
Thank you. I wrote ‘Chill Out’ as kind of a female anthem about not wanting anything more but a fling with someone. I feel like there are so many pressures on women to live life a certain way and we almost feel guilty when we go against the status quo. We’re so used to hearing songs about women experiencing unrequited love, it’s as though were expected to accept whatever comes our way which are just societal rules created by men.
You said in a recent interview that you want to “mould yourself” before you sign into any kind of label deal which I think is a really important message for budding artists and creatives. When do you think you’ll be “moulded” enough to step into a deal?
I don’t think it’s a case of ‘when’ I’ll sign a deal, but more ‘if’. I feel like I’ve grown and learnt so much in just the two years that I’ve been in this industry professionally and it has happened naturally. Over time my sound has changed and taken shape which just came from growth and I feel like if I was in a label deal someone would try creating my shape or force puzzle pieces that don’t fit together.