Wonderland.

Ray BLK × First Access Summer Party

The Wonderbabe lets us in for a pre-party chat.

Repping the likes of Winnie Harlow, Zayn Malik and Ellie Goulding, First Access Entertainment boasts an impressive roster featuring all your fave names; a non-exhaustive list of international talent, so to speak.

For their exclusive summer party, the industry’s elite descended upon Mayfair’s Tramp to enjoy a night of the dreamiest cocktails (think Smirnoff and Captain Morgan), dancing and just generally hanging out with the coolest kids in town, while stellar performances came from DEVI, Culture X Tones, Team Salut, Maurice (not FAE) and Ray BLK.

Before the latter’s performance, we hung out with the Wonderland star in her hotel room, learned about the evolution of her stage performance, progression to sell-out shows and taking on Glastonbury.

So performing live. Talk us through the first time.

The first proper live performance I had was April 2015, and I reached out to these people who did a show in Shoreditch at BoxPark and asked if I could do the show – I’d been to some before and I’d just put out my first mixtape. They invited me down and all my friends came, there were about 40 people and I was so nervous, and my voice was trembling throughout the first song, but yeah it was good and it got a good reaction, so I kind of thought, “Ok I can do this, I can do the next one.”

And before you go out, any stage fright ever?

Oh yeah. I’m a bag of nerves before every performance, whether it’s for 10 people or 10,000 I’m always very nervous. I’ve always got to breathe, I’ve got to shake my hands, and shake my feet. I’ve recently started meditating as well to try and calm my nerves.

How have your pre-show rituals changed since you started?

Well before, to be honest, I was really amateur and I would just sit there nervous and then would just jump on without warming up or anything because I wouldn’t know what to do. But now I’ll do warm ups, do my breathing, and if I have time I’ll meditate for a bit and shake my nerves out; then I’ll do a quick rehearsal in my head.

What’s the thing that stands out the most when you’re performing live?

I like connecting with my fans, just seeing them experience it live and have fun and sing along, that’s always the best part about doing a show.

So festivals – you’ve already done Glastonbury already this summer – how was that?

Glastonbury was amazing. I cried after my set because it was just so emotional for me. The year before I had done my first ever festival, and there was literally, no exaggeration, nobody there! Not a single soul. I opened the festival, it was a small one, and it was just me, my manager, my two friends in the front, and then a few people found themselves there in front of me in the end, but I just had to power through.

Because Glastonbury is a massive festival and there are such huge acts on at the same time, I expected no one to be there and was mentally preparing myself for that, so when I came out and the place was rammed and people were singing along to all the words, I just couldn’t believe they knew the words and had come to see me. I burst into tears when I got off stage, that was a moment for me.

We loved the pink look.

Thank you!

Which other festivals have you got lined up?

I’ve got #Merky festival next week in Ibiza; I’ve also got Lovebox and I’m really looking forward to that as well. One called Pukkelpop, one in Germany this week, Secret Garden Party which I’m actually really looking forward to because I’ve heard a lot about that one. Reading and Leeds Festivals; I’m really looking forward to them.

How do festivals compare to performing in a closed space?

I think it’s a lot freer. At festivals people are there to actually have a good time. I feel like sometimes when people come to shows they just want to stand and be entertained, but at festivals people have come to have a party and jump up around and enjoy themselves, so that makes me relax a bit more and have fun as well in the performance.

So finally, you’ve mentioned already, but what it’s like to get on stage and see all your fans singing the lyrics back to you?

It’s quite surreal to be honest, especially because the songs, for the most part, I wrote in my bedroom, or just wrote for myself or my friends, so seeing people just leave their house to come to my show and take money that they’ve worked for to pay for the ticket is surreal. Then seeing them sing the words back… I can’t believe it every single time, and I feel like there’s a connection in that room. I see how much they relate to the songs, and that when they sing them back they feel it. So that means a lot to me and makes me want to write more songs that they can relate to.

Photography and Videography
Iolo Lewis Edwards
Words
Ryan Cahill
Ray BLK x First Access Summer Party

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