We recently caught up with Rayelle – the Nashville-based popstar behind the epic pop track ‘Get Dat’, an infectiously catchy song from last year that has gained over 1.5m views on YouTube and 3 million streams, you’ll immediately recognize the tune from the commercial for Samsung’s Galaxy S10.
This year Rayelle released a collaboration with LÒNIS: “TFW (That Feel When)” which has been loved non-stop by fans! With a new single due in October we caught up with Rayelle about her career so far.
Hi Rayelle, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been writing a lot, traveling a bit and getting ready for a music video I’m about to shoot in LA.
Your latest single ‘TFW’ came out last month, can you tell us what the main concepts behind the track were?
I wrote that song with my friends, production/writing team LÒNIS. I came into the studio not knowing what type of song we would write that day. The concept came to us as the track started to develop. The music felt sultry and one of us started singing the words “that feel when” and the rest of the lyrics just kind of wrote themselves. It’s about that feeling when you start to get a rush in your head and your heart starts beating fast because you’re attracted to someone or something just a little bit dangerous that you can’t stop yourself from wanting.
While rooted in pop, your music clearly pulls from a lot of different influences, including rock, country, soul, funk, and R&B. Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
I grew up listening to a wide range of music from country to big band/jazz standards, R&B, top 40 pop, and 90’s rock. I was obsessed with Natalie Cole’s UNFORGETTABLE album, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra as a young girl. I also really loved straight pop like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. In my pre- teen years, I got really into Brandy, Brian McKnight, Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu and anything soulful, while at the same time loving artists/bands like Green Day, Weezer and No Doubt. In high school I was really into D’Angelo, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and India Arie. I was a wedding singer in my early 20’s and that job introduced me to a lot of Motown music that I fell in love with.
Eventually I discovered Rufus Wainwright and that changed my whole world. He’s one of my favorite songwriters of all time and he sounds nothing like any of the artists/band I just listed. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m all over the place with my inspirations and that’s probably why my music has a lot of range stylistically. I love it all!
How did you get into music initially?
I grew up in a family of musicians so I came by it very naturally. I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything other than sing and make music. I play the piano by ear and started playing around 5 years old. My first introduction into the industry came in high school when I was 16. I met someone my sister went to college with who had connections to a studio/production company in New York City and they were the first people I worked with in the industry. I wasn’t writing my own songs at that time, but I learned a lot from them about songwriting, vocal production, the recording process, performing, etc.
You’ve been quite prolific over the last couple of years, releasing a lot of material very regularly. What is your process for working on music and how do you manage to stay productive, even though periods of writers block?
Honestly I think the fact that I don’t put restrictions on myself creatively in terms of genre really helps me to stay productive and inspired. I never get bored or feel blocked because I allow myself to play with so many different styles. I generally start with music first, melody second and lyric last. I almost always write the chorus or hook of the song first and then once I have the concept and tagline solidified, I’m able to write the verses and know what I need to say to support the chorus.
Some weeks I’ll be incredibly productive and write 5-6 songs and then I might not write again for a week. I don’t put too much pressure on myself about when and where I need to be creative. Of course if I’m in a co-write situation I always come out with a song, but when I’m home on my own, songs often come to me on their own terms, when I least expect it. I was opening a package the other day and heard music and melody in my head like it was already written. I had to drop everything and run to the piano to get it recorded so I wouldn’t forget it, and the next thing I knew I had a whole song written. That’s my favorite way to write a song. I don’t like to force it. When it comes, I open the door and let it in and when it isn’t coming easily, I move on to something else and trust that the next song will come when it’s ready.
Your song ‘Get Dat’ exploded in popularity after being licensed for a Samsung commercial. Can you tell us a little bit about the background of that track and how it came together?
I wrote that song with a producer here in Nashville, Aron Wright. That was the first time Aron and I met and worked together and that song was one of those days where it just flowed and was easy. The only direction I gave Aron was that I wanted something upbeat, feel-good, worldly (something that could work in any country) and that could be danced to. We picked a tempo and Aron started building a track. I walked around the studio humming along to the track and started free-styling the chorus. I thought of the lyric as an affirmation of sorts. I was pumping myself up and encouraging myself to go after my dreams/goals and not stop until I get them. I had no idea the song would be so popular. I released the song in the fall of 2017 and it didn’t get much attention so I never expected something like what happened this year. It’s been a beautiful surprise to have it be so well received by people all over the world. I wanted a worldly song and I ended up with a song that literally reached the entire world. I’m incredibly grateful to Samsung for making that dream come true.
If you could sum up your musical personality in one sentence what would it be?
I’m a free-spirited, multi-genre inclusive, artist with the desire to uplift, encourage and empower those who listen.
Which artists have you got on repeat right now?
I’ve been listening to Daniel Caesar’s new album on repeat and I’ve also been getting really into Lizzo. My sister played some of her stuff for me last week (I know I’m late to the game) and I’m loving it.
What is one fact about you that people wouldn’t expect?
I think people wouldn’t expect how into classical music I am. I definitely don’t think anyone would guess that from listening to my music but it’s true. I mostly listen to classical or 40’s junction on Satellite radio when I’m in the car. (This is probably also why I’m so late to the game on listening to Lizzo like the rest of the world.)
What’s next for Rayelle?
I’m shooting a music video in LA next week for a song of mine called “Freedom” that I hope to release in October, followed by my debut full-length album, that I plan to release sometime in November.