Rachel Chinouriri: “It’s important to define who I am, as someone that is Black and involved in indie”

At The Great Escape, the Croydon artist discusses challenging misconceptions of her sound and the community spirit she's found online

In January, Rachel Chinouriri took to Instagram to discuss an issue that had plagued her career since she emerged as a lively and curious singer-songwriter in 2018 with her breakout single, ‘So My Darling’. Over the years, she had been mislabelled as an ‘R&B and soul artist’, even though her music had long been rooted in the infectious, low-key indie and pop sounds that she grew up listening to, having been an avid fan of both Coldplay and London trio Daughter throughout her early teenage years.

In a statement posted to the platform, the 23-year-old said, “In my early days, to be put into genres I never grew up listening to was so bizarre to me.” Speaking to NME at The Great Escape festival, she expands on why she chose to speak out. “I think it’s important to define who I am, especially as someone that is Black and involved in the indie scenes. Anyone who is Black and doesn’t do R&B, hip-hop or soul music always gets thrown into the ‘urban’ bracket, which just really pigeonholes you [as an artist],” she explains.

Four months on from the post, Chinouriri says she is still “really proud” of herself for raising awareness, particularly as it is an issue that has also affected her peers and close collaborators. “I have a lot of friends like Master Peace, Connie Constance, Hak Bakar, Cat Burns, Lava La Rue – we all make music that’s not R&B. When I made the post, a lot of them messaged me and spoke out too, and Arlo Parks also commented [on it].”


Chinouriri’s new EP, ‘Better Off Without’ (due May 20) will see the Croydon-raised artist “return to [her] indie roots”. The four-track collection has been preceded by its uptempo lead single, ‘All I Ever Asked’, plus ‘End Of The Road’, a festival-ready collaboration with Scottish rockers The Snuts.

The release of the EP will be pivotal for Chinouriri, as she explains: “I wouldn’t label myself like how I’ve been labelled [in the past]… but now there’s a new following behind me who want to hear me for who I really am.”

Watch our full interview with Rachel Chinouriri at The Great Escape 2022 above