The Korea Herald


Bailey Rae to bring the noise


Published : July 12, 2010 - 18:25

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When you think of British soul singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, loud, brash rock probably isn’t the first thing to pop into your mind.

The 31-year-old from Leeds is mostly known for her intimate songs about relationships between the sexes and for a sound that makes listeners want to just cozy up with a warm cup of joe.

Rocking out under the blistering sun at a summertime music festival isn’t exactly what you might expect to do while listening to her music.

But come Aug. 1 ― on the last day of the three-day-long Jisan Valley Rock Festival ― Rae promises to bring the noise at Korea’s biggest music extravaganza as one of its headlining acts.

“We’re going to play a heavier range of music than we (usually) play,” Rae told The Korea Herald.

“I am really happy to be playing at a rock festival. Hopefully, it’s going to be fun because they’re going to hear something different from maybe what they’re going to be expecting.”

About her set at the festival, she added: “Rock festivals bring people together so that’s why I’m hoping with the music we play there will be a bigger crowd than usual. It will be new to people as well who haven’t seen or heard that side of me.”

Rock is not a genre that is too foreign to Rae.

She began her life as a musician as lead vocalist with a rock band called Helen, inspired by contemporaries like Veruca Salt and L7.

“It was the first time I’d seen women with guitars,” she said.

“They are sexy yet still feminist. I wanted to be like that, at the front of something.”

The group played gigs all over Leeds and in the greater Manchester area, eventually becoming the first indie act to be signed to heavy metal record label Roadrunner Records in 1995, sharing the label with acts such as Slipknot. The band was short-lived, however, and dissolved after the bassist became pregnant.
British singer Corinne Bailey Rae will perform at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival on Aug. 1 Mnet Media British singer Corinne Bailey Rae will perform at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival on Aug. 1 Mnet Media

After her experimentation with rock music, she began exploring more introverted sounds while working as a “hat check girl” at a local jazz club while studying English literature at the University of Leeds.

During nights when business was slow, the club management permitted her to sing on stage with the house band and it was during this time she set off on a different musical path.

Since then, Rae’s willowy renditions about love and romance have made her loved by fans of light-hearted blues and soul.

That has been her bread and butter but on her follow-up to her multiplatinum-selling self-titled debut, she has taken a dark turn.

With songs written before and after her husband’s death from a drug overdose, most of the songs on “The Sea” carry personal themes -- many of which include bleak lyrics with just a glimmer of hope.

The record has been seen by critics as her delving deep into more serious territory, and confronting the tragedy in her life.

It had been almost two years since the death of her husband when she released her second studio album in January, 2010, to widespread critical acclaim.

Though the album failed to reach the commercial heights of her debut release, critics praised the record for its honesty in the wake of her tragic loss.

“I was not frustrated and I didn’t feel pressure,” she said of the album’s lack-luster public reception.

“I had freedom artistically because I previously made a record that has become popular, and I thought that even if a small percentage of people who liked my first album got my second, it would still be quite lot of people. I felt like I wanted to be different, brave, noisier, more chaotic, and more aggressive in whatever I brought out.”

One of the tracks, “Are You Here” deals exclusively with her grief after her husband’s death.

“I feel like I’ve been playing music and writing and using music to help me with all the different emotions that I’ve been feeling,” she said.

“When I started writing that (song) I was thinking, ‘I don’t really want this song to go into the world, cause it’s so naked,’ but I had to.”

By Song Woong-ki (