Artist and songwriter RAYE has signed with J. Erving’s distribution and artist services company Human Re Sources, Billboard has exclusively learned.
RAYE’s pact with the Orchard subsidiary comes just under a year after the U.K.-based singer departed her deal with Polydor Records in July 2021, not long after tweeting her discontent with the label the previous month.
“Imagine this pain,” she wrote at the time. “I have been signed to a major label since 2014…and I have had albums on albums of music sat in folders collecting dust, songs I am now giving away to A list artists because I am still awaiting confirmation that I am good enough to release an album.”
RAYE’s signing with Human Re Sources – acquired by The Orchard in Dec. 2020 – resulted from her preexisting relationship with the company’s A&R executive Mariel Gomerez, whom she met while co-writing Beyonce’s Lion King soundtrack cut “Bigger” during Gomerez’s nearly six-year stint at Parkwood Entertainment.
Imagine this pain
I have been signed to a major label since 2014…and I have had albums on albums of music sat in folders collecting dust, songs I am now giving away to A list artists because I am still awaiting confirmation that I am good enough to release an album.
— RAYE (@raye) June 29, 2021
A multiple BRIT Award nominee best known for tracks including “Bed,” “Secrets” and Jax Jones’ “You Don’t Know Me,” on which she’s featured, the newly independent singer is now prepping for the June 30 release of “Hard Out Here,” the first single from her forthcoming debut album. As she tells Billboard, her relationship with Human Re Sources is a breath of fresh air when compared with her previous label home, which she claims stifled her genre-agnostic artistic vision and pressured her into becoming, as she puts it, a “rent-a-vocal” dance artist.
“[One] thing I was always told at my old situation is, ‘You don’t know who you are, RAYE. You don’t know who you are. Nobody knows. Because you can’t pick a genre, you can’t commit to one thing. This is a weakness. This is confusing,’” she says. “You’re getting told these lies over and over and over again and I’m sitting at home beating myself up like ‘Oh my god, it’s me. I’m the problem.’ [But] it’s not flipping me. It’s not. [They] just never took the time to sit down and even figure out who I was as an artist.”
It got so bad, she continues, that at one point she considered giving up her career: “I smiled all the smiles I could possibly smile,” she shares. “I stroked as many flipping egos as I could flipping stroke. I’ve done everything I can think of. I’ve written songs for almost half the roster…for Miss B [Beyonce]. Like how else could I prove to [them] that I deserve to put out a body of work?”
After finally being released from her four-album deal with Polydor – which only occurred, RAYE says, after she threatened to go to the U.K. press with her story – both major and independent labels began reaching out. Unfortunately, those initial meetings were disheartening. “We took interviews with all of them,” she says, “[but] it was just the same B.S.”
Then Human Re Sources came around. While she wasn’t at liberty to discuss the terms of the deal, RAYE says it gives her creative control over her work and release strategy and allows her a “fair share” of revenue from her recordings: “I’m now in a fabulous situation in which for the first time in my life, I will actually be making some money off my record.”
Erving describes signing RAYE as “a no-brainer” for Human Re Sources, which is also home to artists including Brent Faiyaz, Cordae, YBN Nahmir, Pink Sweat$, Baby Rose and Bren Joy. “I’m a music-first person and literally, five seconds into hearing [her music] I’m like, ‘Yo, her f—ing voice is insane,'” he says. “I heard the vulnerability in the records and in her pen, and after I met her, I’m like, ‘Oh, s—, she’s a f–ing superstar.'”
“I’ve watched RAYE grow as a songwriter, producer and artist over the past 4 years and couldn’t be more proud of how she continues to use her voice unapologetically,” said Gomerez in a statement. “I’m excited for her next chapter and even more excited for her to share her truth through her music. To me she is one of the few artists that commit to the art of music and to see her do so while maintaining ownership is inspiring. I am more than certain that she will continue to break barriers.”
RAYE describes the forthcoming LP as a personal exorcism of sorts, tackling everything from body dysmorphia, sexual abuse, climate change and her experiences with unsavory characters in the music industry who, she says, “are hired and in high places that just shouldn’t be.”
“My stories that I’ve collected over this seven years that I haven’t even been able to share I think are important and powerful and are going to be even tough for me to sing and perform,” she continues. “But this is medicine in its purest form. This is how I’ve been able to survive. This is my whole life out there exposed. I’m hiding nothing. I just want it to be something that people can hear.”