RAYE on scoring UK Number One single with ‘Escapism’: “It’s the ultimate validation”

The singer talks to NME about going independent after a high-profile label split, and how her chart success shows that “nothing’s impossible”

RAYE has scored her first UK Number One single with ‘Escapism’, telling NME that it’s the “ultimate validation” for the independent artist after the journey she’s been on.

The 070 Shake-featuring track has been climbing the charts since its release in November and hit the top spot today (January 6) after charting at Number Two last week. It comes three weeks before the release of her long-awaited debut album ‘My 21st Century Blues’.

“I’m feeling all the emotions!” RAYE told NME this afternoon, a few hours after finding out that she hit the top spot in the UK charts. “I’m beyond overwhelmed, and just so proud as well that we’ve done it independent, and with music that I’m so in love with.


“It’s also a huge time of reflection. It’s 10 years since I dropped my first single, you know – these things don’t happen overnight. All of the hard work that’s gone into this moment… I feel a bit sick!”

In the summer of 2021, RAYE made headlines when she parted ways with Polydor Records after claiming that the label had refused to release her debut album, despite signing a four-album deal in 2014. Since then, she has gone independent and will release her debut album next month.

“I don’t think this music would have seen the light of day if I wasn’t independent,” she told NME. “It just shows that nothing’s impossible, to be independent and achieving this. We don’t have huge budgets to spend on marketing campaigns, people have genuinely just decided that they’re going to connect to the song and stream it and like it.

She continued: “I think everyone felt a bit sorry for me after all of that stuff happened, thinking, ‘It’s not looking good’. The most insane thing is being reassured that it’s important to trust your gut and to trust that you know what’s best for yourself as an artist.

“I’m just so proud of myself for staying the course and just backing myself. As tough as it’s been, in the darkest of times, it’s the ultimate validation.”


The singer wrote ‘Escapism’ two years before its release, and said that its subject matter, which discusses substance abuse, is often seen as taboo for women to sing about in music.

“As someone who has battled with the subjects I’m talking about, [it’s] not necessarily seen as attractive for women to address substance abuse so head on and so viscerally,” she admitted. “It’s really difficult as a woman battling those demons specifically, because there’s no healthy outlet.

“All of this album is me addressing these uncomfortable subjects head on. If the girl that I wrote that song about could see this now, where I’m at and what’s going on, she’d be so emotional, both that she made it out and now that she’s Number One!”

RAYE. Credit: Callum Walker Hutchinson.

Since the track’s release three months ago, it has slowly climbed the charts and already achieved Number One in Ireland. It currently sits at Number Five in Germany, in the Top 10 in Australia and has also entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

“I promised myself and went through all the mental preparation to not need to expect anything from statistics or chart success,” RAYE told NME, instead believing “that it was just about releasing art and slowly building a new fanbase, a fanbase that accepts me for whatever story I need to tell. Because of that, all of this is just blowing my wildest expectations. I just genuinely just did not see anything like this happening anytime soon, so it’s just bananas.”

With the album due out next month and worldwide headline shows alongside an arena support run with Lewis Capaldi to come, RAYE said the timing for the chart success is perfect. “I’m just so ready,” she beamed. “Some of these songs have existed for years, and I’ve been waiting to tell some of these stories for so long. I’m just so grateful that this is my life. It feels like someone needs to wake me up from this dream. It’s just wild, wild, wild.”

Thanking her parents, who work with her in the “family business” and ‘Escapism’ producer Mike Sabath, who she wrote the song with “in some random log cabin in Utah,” RAYE added: “Honestly shout out anyone who’s stuck by me for so bloody long. It’s been a wild journey and I’m just excited to get the chance to rewrite my story and begin releasing albums… with an S!”

After sharing the tracklist yesterday, RAYE will release ‘My 21st Century Blues’ on February 3.

RAYE confirmed this week that she will be supporting Lewis Capaldi on his ‘Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent’ tour, which kicks off next week. You can see the full list of dates below and buy your tickets here.

14 – Leeds, First Direct Arena
16 – Sheffield, Utilita Arena
18 – Manchester, AO Arena
19 – Liverpool, M&S Bank Arena
21 – Newcastle, Utilita Arena
23 – Aberdeen, P&J Live
24 – Glasgow, OVO Hydro
26 – Birmingham, Utilita Arena
27 – Nottingham, Motorpoint Arena
29 – Belfast, SSE Arena
30 – Dublin, 3Arena

RAYE is set to embark on a headline tour of her own not long after, spanning the UK, Europe and a few dates in North America. You can buy your tickets here.

25 – Amsterdam, Melkweg
26 – Berlin, Frannz
27 – Copenhagen, Lilie Vega

MARCH 2023
1 – Stockholm, Debaser Strand
2 – Paris, La Maroquinerie
4 – Dublin, Olympia Theatre
5 – Belfast, Limelight
7 – Manchester, O2 Ritz
8 – London, Roundhouse
14 – San Francisco, Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop
15 – Los Angeles, Troubadour
17 – Toronto, Velvet Underground
19 – Chicago, Lincoln Hall
21 – Brooklyn, Music Hall Of Williamsburg

You May Like