The eldest of three sisters (one, Rhea Bailey, is a successful TV actress in the United Kingdom), Rae grew up and still lives in Leeds, a proudly gritty city beyond the orbit of English cultural meccas London and Manchester. But Rae soon found herself at home with some of the leading lights of Los Angeles' soul/jazz/electro underground.
"All these musicians know each other and hang out: Thundercat, J Davey, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington -- all the people who circle around Kendrick Lamar. I felt like I was in heaven."Los Angeles bohemia may have rubbed off on her: You can detect its influence in the psychedelic textures of "Green Aphrodisiac" and "Horse Print Dress," which is awash in images of ecstatic newfound love.
"I wanted an elemental place -- rocks, desert and the sea -- and Fuerteventura has all this black lava because it's a volcanic island," says Rae. "Being mixed race in Britain in the '80s and '90s, there just weren't loads of people who looked like me. I was really skinny, and always felt self-conscious about that -- I used to wear, like, three pairs of tights!
"It has the look of a strange planet."Corinne Bailey Rae: The Billboard Shoot A strange planet suits Rae: The feeling of being in exile, of looking at society from the outside in, is a familiar one. "Some of the sessions for took place at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood -- another faraway planet for a Northern Englishwoman.
"This isn't my first romance/But it hit me like an avalanche," sings Rae.
Dedicated Corinne Bailey Rae watchers will be quick to connect such songs to the singer's life.
I love the Hemsley sisters, I’m really into clean food.’We are meeting because Corinne’s third studio album is to be released next month. ‘It’s about moving from pain into joy, from bitterness into sweetness,’ she says. ‘People have said, “Oh, you’ve moved to LA” and been really snarky about it, but I love being in LA where it’s warm and sunny, and there’s a good music scene.’, playing Caz, fiancée of factory worker Kate Connor. ‘She’s happy there are lots of different people represented on screen.’ Was Corinne, whose mother is white and her father from Saint Kitts, supportive of the Oscars boycott prompted by the lack of black nominees?
I have a term for other, you know, real 'professional' recording studios: Black Leather Couch Studios.The vibe is: ' Big hits have happened in this room! '"That environment just makes me feel like I'm in the wrong place," she adds with a laugh. When I arrive for our photo shoot in Bow, East London, Corinne Bailey Rae is already having her photograph taken in a designer print dress and spring coat: ‘I love pattern and colour.’ Her hair is a mass of corkscrews, her mouth full and wide, but everything else about her is tiny. There are times when there is agony, times when there is joy.’ Her second album Is it hard, coming out with a record after a long hiatus, with so many female singer-songwriters vying for airplay? Corinne’s own father left when she was small, but, she says, ‘Our families are close. " says Corinne Bailey Rae, loudly while laughing -- and only a fool would argue with her.The 37-year-old English singer-songwriter, sitting in a Manhattan restaurant on a blustery day, is petite, just 5 feet 3 inches tall, but her luxuriant hair adds inches to her height.