Growing up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Atlantic Records’ singer-songwriter, Raiche, occupied her time in church developing her voice and uploading song covers on YouTube. The sounds of her mother’s retro lullabies became the solace, and foundation Raiche needed to find her place musically.
Even so, life humbled the young artist, halting her budding progress; Raiche paused on music to help keep the family salon her mother ran afloat. “I would play my music for [clients] in there,” she explained. The neighborhood’s recognition fueled Raiche’s decision to take her talents to Boston.
Bean Town provided a clean slate, new creative opportunities and the mentorship of DJ Knock Out. Known on local radio and for his work with R&B acts such as Jeremih, and Sevyn Streeter, he got the crooner working with his venture Genre Defying Entertainment (GDE), which later helped Raiche earn a deal with Atlantic Records’ Island Prolific imprint.
Then came her colorful single “Money Pies” and the release of her debut EP, Drive. Aiming to join the success of labelmates Kehlani, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, and the late Aretha Franklin, Raiche’ is following her dreams in becoming a household name at Atlantic Records.
Billboard sat down with the fresh-faced starlet to discuss the story behind her EP’s title-track, how she is sonically “not putting up with shit anymore,” and more. Check out our conversation below.
How does your single “Complicated” speak to self-worth?
This song speaks to the acknowledgment of a woman’s self-worth in many ways. We women are very loving. Personally, I give my heart above and beyond. The men I dealt with have always mistreated it. I’m young, so it’s probably because of my age, and the age of the men that I choose to be with.
I feel that my song speaks to that situation in volumes. I don’t know why my heart is beating so fast right now. This is intense! I think that [this song is representative] of not putting up with shit anymore. Like, you’re done with taking his bullshit. Let me try not to swear. “Complicated” is more of a release of emotional abuse.
What does Drive means to you, and to your listeners?
I think this body of work was put together with care. I had about 40 to 60 songs recorded. So, we chose from the best picks. There’s an array of sounds from different genres on this EP. I guess that’s what makes it so unique.
I can do a lot with my voice. I believe that’s one of the qualities as an artist that I like about myself. [Music] is about your voice. I feel like it shows through my songs. This EP has heavy beats.
Then, there are more pop and airy songs on Drive. Also, there are real vibey songs, too. I have a bunch of vibes on one project. I think a lot of people can relate to Drive.
What makes you stand out amidst the new pool of R&B artists?
Definitely my tone. I never took serious vocal lessons when I was younger. Still, I’d watch American Idol. I’d sit behind the couch because my mother wouldn’t let me watch TV if my homework wasn’t finished. I would hide behind that couch listening, and I would take the judge’s criticism seriously.
Once I listened to them, I’d use it for myself. I’d head to my room and practice. I remember there was a time where I couldn’t do any riff. I practiced riffs, over, and over, and over again.
I remember someone saying on the show, “If you want to make it in the industry, you have to find yourself. You have to find your own voice because everyone is out here singing. You have to sound different in order to separate yourself.” So, I would listen to Adele, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift for inspiration.
I’d listen to a lot of gospel music, as well as the oldies that my parents played. My music is a product of listening to it all.
I remember the day I found my tone. I was in church, playing with the mic [on the altar], and I did something different with my voice. I was trying to dig in there. I remember my sister looked back at me, saying, “What are you doing? Why do you sound like that?” I responded, “I don’t know. I’m just finding it.”
What’s the story behind the EP’s title track?
I went through a lot of adversity. A lot of people say I’ve gotten to this point very fast. For me, it feels really slow. “Drive” is about pushing forward no matter what.
People are always going to judge you. People are still going to ridicule you, and pick you apart. They’re going to see what you don’t have first. This song is more like, “Look, I got me. I got my people. I know what I am, and I know who I am. So, I’m going to keep going.” I’m going to drive!
How does the video for “Money Pies,” and it’s around-the-way girl aesthetic, represent your artistry?
“Money Pies,” the first single, was more of me just showing a personality. It was giving a base to my story. I was a small town girl. I didn’t go to school right out of high school, I went to work with my mom, for free, because her business wasn’t doing well
I was stuck in this dream world. Like, I don’t know what to do with myself, and I do not understand how this is going to happen. I knew what I wanted to do. Still, the idea just came from that [feeling]. “Money Pies” is the base [from which I jumped] into the music industry.
You signed to Atlantic Records in December of 2017. How did the deal help those money pies and your sound?
By signing to Atlantic, I’m able to work with some great people. There are great writers and producers. Signing helped me grow as an artist. Atlantic Records is a huge platform to have my music heard. That’s special.
When can your fans anticipate your next Drive single or visual? Is there a tentative date?
It’s coming soon. We just shot it. I don’t think there’s a set date.
Recently, you secured an Intuit commercial spot during the 2019 Grammys with an original song, “Shine.” Why was a cartoon showcasing female entrepreneurship vital to you?
Well, one, it was a great opportunity. It matched me so perfectly. I’m huge on energies. What you put out there will come back to you. [The commercial was] spot-on to my life. For example, being a little girl, and growing up in mother’s salon — I would sing for people in there. I would play my music for clients in there.
My story is kind of like the young girl’s in the Intuit video. She was coloring her father’s coffee cups [in his establishment] and selling them. That was how her pursuit began. She thought, “Wow! I love my design.” So, she put that design on everything. [The character launched] her career from within her father’s business. I can relate to that!
Who is Raiche?
Raiche is a young, driven, talented, loving, kind, and passionate young woman. Sometimes, I have an issue saying “woman” because I really do feel young. This world is so big. I have so much to learn.
Do you have a message for your growing fan base?
There are so many messages to consider. [Laughs.] I don’t think I could put them all into one. I do want to stay as positive as humanly possible. I want to keep my compassion. I feel like we are all so disconnected sometimes.
I want to be connected to people, in general, and reality. Keeping your humanity is important. We’re all in this business and, yes, I am getting too deep. [Laughs.] But, that is the thing, I am a very deep person. So, my message would simply be to spread peace and love.