Rapidly growing her name in the country industry with over 28.3K social followers and 30K TikTok likes, Nicole Rayy has amassed over TWO million catalogue streams to date, with her hit 2020 single “Broken Boys” racking in over 500K streams, and her 90’s inspired smash “Feels Like Yesterday” garnering over 560K streams alone.
Nicole’s latest release, “Last Ones Up” is her new summer anthem. Featuring powerhouse vocals, the song is an anthem for all those night owls who are the last ones to leave the party.
On writing the new song, Nicole shares: “I have never been the queen of writing the party song because I always wanted to share music that I am really emotionally connected to. I was never sure how to strike the balance between true to me and a fun good time song. After staying up all night with some friends, for the thousandth time in my life, I was inspired and came up with the title ‘Last Ones Up.’ I was so excited to take it to the writing team of ‘Feels Like Yesterday’ (David Madras and Matt Teed) to write a party song that truly feels like me. And whether you are always a night owl or you’ve only done it once I think we can all relate to being the last ones up. I hope this can be your new party anthem!”
From an early age, you’ve had a love of performing; whether it was dance, musical theatre, or singing into the Spice Girls microphone you received as a gift; you were all in. What and/or who led you to become enamoured with the arts and all it encompasses?
Nicole Rayy (NR): “My mom used to joke that I was making up songs before I could talk, so I guess the music has always been in me. I don’t have a musical family so my love of music just came from my own exploration of music as a kid. I always loved how music made me feel less alone, and I wanted to make music to make other people feel the same way. Growing up I was always involved in the arts from choir to piano lessons to musical theatre. It always felt like it was the place I belonged.”
After a year in University, you dropped out to chase a career in country music. Since then, you’ve been doing all you can as an independent artist to build on your career. How did you come to the realization that then was the time to pursue everything you’d been dreaming of?
NR: “I always wanted to pursue music as a career but I didn’t really know how when I went off to University. The longer I stayed in school though, the more I realized I wasn’t ever going to figure it out if I didn’t just go for it. I knew that if I stayed in University it would just be more time I wasn’t dedicating to going after what I really wanted. I knew school would always be there if I ever wanted to go back, and that if I wanted to be a singer, I had to pursue it right then.”
Carving out your place in the country community, you’ve created initiatives to support fellow female artists including your #AllWomanMusic series and launching an all-female festival (HarmoniaFest). Talk about the importance of these initiatives, and the want to offer support to other female artists throughout the community.
NR: “This industry does a very good job of making us feel isolated or that everyone else is our competitor instead of our ally; especially for women. It has had me fooled before, and I got to this place where I was sick of that feeling. There are so many female artists who inspire me, and who I love, that I wanted to be part of a community with these artists, not a competition. So, I realized that started with me – I had to extend an olive branch and let others know that I was here to support them. I found so many women felt the same way, and it’s so much more productive and positive for all of us to support each other than compete. I truly believe when one of us succeeds we all do.”
“I used to believe that if you worked hard, opportunities would come your way. But I now realize if I want to see changes and have opportunities, I have to create them for myself. This thinking inspired me to create platforms for women to shine including, ‘All Woman Music’ and ‘HarmoniaFest.’ I plan to continue to use these platforms to show fans just how many powerhouse female singers we have in this industry. I think it’s so important to carve the way for future female artists so they do not have to fight the same uphill battle.”
Having gained momentum with material released prior to the pandemic, how had you kept it alive throughout what may had been, for some, a time of creative hindrance?
NR: “I was gaining a lot of momentum in my career before the pandemic began and I refused to let it slow me down. I figured out ways to stay creative and keep performing at home. I actually had just launched my All Woman Music show at that time, and when things shut down, I took the show online. I also spent a TON of time writing new material. I met new writers over zoom that I had never met before the pandemic and wrote some of what I feel is my best material yet, including ‘Feels Like Yesterday’ and ‘Last Ones Up.'”
A four-time CMA Ontario nominee, you’ve been writing your own songs since adolescence. How have you seen your songwriting evolve over the years (whether that be in terms of emotional maturity, purpose, vulnerability, etc.)?
NR: “I have definitely seen a growth in my songwriting over the years, as I think most artists do. I think a lot of it comes with practice; writing more and more, and finding the right people to write with who really help shape and push my creativity. But, it also comes with maturity. I think as I have gotten older, I have become more confident in what I have to say and I am not afraid to put those opinions into my songs.”
Your latest single, “Last Ones Up,” is a summer anthem for all those night owls who are the last ones to leave the party! Having never been one to write much of a party song, how did you come about wanting to share more of the feel-good, playful side of your personality?
NR: “‘Last Ones Up’ is definitely my first real party song. I have never been the queen of writing the party song in the past because I always wanted to share music that I am really emotionally connected to. I was never sure how to strike the balance between true to me and still a fun good time song. After staying up all night with some friends, for the thousandth time in my life, I was inspired and came up with the title, ‘Last Ones Up.'”
Having taken it to the writing team of “Feels Like Yesterday” (David Madras and Matt Teed), how had their creative input helped you get this song to where you wanted it to be?
NR: “I was so excited to take it to the writing team of ‘Feels Like Yesterday,’ because I knew they would help me craft a party song that truly felt like me. They were immediately on board when I brought the title into the write. Their input really helped strike a balance to keep the song fun, but still have some lines that made the song more emotional and sound like me. They were the perfect writing team for the job!”
What’s next for Nicole Rayy having now released this single?
NR: “I actually just finished recording the last song for my new album. This album will include my previous singles like ‘Broken Boys,’ and “Sad Song,” and also include some more brand-new material that hasn’t been heard yet, including my next single coming this fall, ‘Graveyard.’ I am also gearing up for the third annual HarmoniaFest which will take place on August 20th at Brooks Farms.”
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