Rachel Agatha Keen, or RAYE, is a singer-songwriter from Tooting in London. She is best known for her work with David Guetta, Jax Jones, and Jess Glynne. Her single “BED,” in collaboration with David Guetta, is her best-known track with 276 million listens on Spotify. She is currently independent after working with Polydor records up till June 2021.
In 2014, RAYE was introduced to the world with her seven-track EP Welcome to the Winter. The EP is more experimental than her later work and is more R&B than EDM influenced. Trap beats are consistent across the EP, full of space and atmosphere.
After producing such a high-quality first EP, RAYE was ready to create more radio-friendly tracks to be released on all streaming services. She began with a pair of tracks in 2015, most notably “Alien” in collaboration with London-rapper Avelino. Avelino’s deep, laid-back, and melodic fits perfectly into this floating masterpiece.
RAYE made waves large enough to be seen by the British mainstream, leading to her breakthrough in 2016. She released her EP Second, including a collaboration with Stormzy. Their track “Ambition” allowed RAYE to show her diversity by rapping alongside Stormzy and singing the hooks. Stormzy’s verse on “Ambition” is stunning, beginning isolated, and washed in reverb and delay.
The attention gathered from this finally allowed RAYE to make her long-needed entry into the iconic UK Singles Chart. Her collaboration “By Your Side” with Jonas Blue marked RAYE’s final shift into the mainstream, lending her vocal performance to a bombastic and energetic EDM track. It is full of Jonas Blue’s pop signatures. Their work was rewarded with a number 15 peak in the UK Charts.
RAYE did even better on a track with Jax Jones that she had more of a writing position on, giving her original R&B take to Jax Jones’ style. The instantly ear-catching opening line “ooh, na-na, yeah. Don’t act as you know me as you know me,” formed a motif consistent throughout the catch that we couldn’t get out of our heads when “You Don’t Know Me” was released in December of 2016. The track deservedly peaked at number 3 on the UK Weekly Charts and was certified double platinum.
“You Don’t Know Me” opened a string of RAYE’s collaborations with the UK’s most famous artists, including Mabel, Stefflon Don, and Charlie XCX, culminating in the release of her third EP Side Tape in 2018. Side Tape sums up the London scene of 2018 better than any other work. It features catchy hooks and hard-hitting rap verses that energized the UK’s clubs. All this in under 20 minutes.
In 2020, RAYE released her mini-album Euphoric Sad Songs, including seven solo tracks and collaborations with Rudimental and Regard. Euphoric Sad Songs is a classy and understated debut album, best represented by RAYE’s popular single with Regard: “Secrets.” It is led by a simple beat, minimalist bass line, and a synth lead during the chorus that we miss whenever it is not there. “Secrets” would go on to be rightly nominated for a Brit Award for Best British Single. Unfortunately, RAYE’s debut album achieved just no. 86 on the UK Download’s chart despite its quality.
After the lack of success of Euphoric Sad Songs, RAYE revealed that she had created a debut studio album that her label had withheld for several years. In July 2021, she parted from Polydor records over this dispute.