INTERVIEWED! Corrine Bailey Rae at Wychwood 2024

Corrine Bailey Rae sat down with Summer Festival Guide after coming off stage at Wychwood Festival 2024.

You’ve just come off stage, how do you feel the reception from the crowd was?

It was great! You know it’s so good to be playing old songs, but also new songs aswell. I really want to share what I’m doing I don’t want to be just a “heritage act” when you’re sort of playing cover versions of your old music – and I would never want to be that.

So I always like it when you can try out new things so you can see what people are into or in a festival you can just see if it’s reacting – are more people at the end or less, and I always love it when you can just see the crowds getting thicker and thicker and denser as the set goes on so I feel like we’re doing the right thing.

Your latest album, Black Rainbows, marks a bit of a departure from what people maybe expected from you in terms of the inspirations, the sound of it – people in the crowd reacting saying they didn’t expect this from her.

How does it make you feel when you’ve perhaps been pigeon holed as a certain type of performer and then coming out with something that’s completely different and drawn from inspiration?

I felt with Black Rainbows it was always going to be a side project you know? I thought I want to feel free and I don’t want to feel boxed in by peoples expectations of me- and then I thought as the time went on how crazy that was that I was internalising these limits for myself and I thought “No”. I will just say that this is my record, I’ve been working on it for seven years or something so really glad to just do more guitar music – that’s where I came from I came from indie, I had this band called Helen and whenever we play jazz festivals we always put in a few spanners in the works or the other way round.

I like to play a festival and do a quiet jazzy ballad or something. I just think it’s important to push out the edges for yourself and make room for yourself I think and not be your own covers band.

Is that a vision you see for the future for the next record? Is it trying to draw on an inspiration and use that as a running theme throughout?

I think that since doing this record I feel really free. My last record before this I felt really pressured to make a certain kind of song.

We really wanted to have a radio song and everyone in my team and at the label said “just do whatever you want for the rest of the record but we need three radio hits” and it was always so hard. By the end I didn’t even have to ask them what they thought.

If I was just starting the song and I thought to myself “this is too slow” or “this isn’t universal enough” or “this isn’t catchy enough” and I felt like I was policing all my own ideas and so many songs were just falling through my fingers and I really didn’t want to do that with Black Rainbows I wanted to have no pressure and just make something creative.

I feel like now that I’ve done that I will always do that because it’s so satisfying not worrying what people think you know? I really think there will always be an audience of enough of a size for me to travel round the world like I get to do and I’ll always have my old songs which already connect with people but I really always want to make sure it’s exciting and real for me and challenging, inspiring.

And how about the rest of the summer and 2024?

Summer 2024 is SO busy and I keep saying to people “what month is it?” because I’ve been planning these last few months for so long!

But we’re playing at Glastonbury, playing We Out Here festival, Latitude – we’re playing a bunch of festivals in the US, we’re going to China. I’m going to Brazil and Mexico in November! I’m doing a lot this summer, doing a lot of festivals so just getting acquainted with the grass and whether it will or not rain and bumping into other artists backstage that you didn’t expect to see and that’s always really good fun. I love festivals for that, they’re a proper testing ground.

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