RAYE is riding high off the release of 21st Century Blues, her debut album from earlier this month. The 25-year-old British songstress achieved two debuts this week: Her first-ever US television performance and her first-ever New York Fashion Week.
RAYE belted out “Escapism” with 070 Shake on last night’s (February 15) The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. She opened the performance with a perfectly classic, almost nostalgic vibe — delivering her distinctly evocative vocals while sat at the piano and backed with the show’s horn section.
RAYE stepped out from behind the keys for an emphatic second verse: “Been some dark days lately and I’m findin’ it cripplin’ / Excuse my state, I’m as high as your hopes / That you’ll make it to my bed, get me hot and sizzlin’ / If I take a step back to see the glass half-full / At least it’s the Prada two-piece that I’m trippin’ in.”
The set steadily gained momentum and peaked just as 070 Shake sauntered on to the stage to scale it back down to the simmering pace RAYE began with.
“Escapism” became RAYE’s first career No. 1 on the UK charts in January, which she reflected on with Uproxx around 21st Century Blues‘ arrival last week.
“It’s so exciting as an artist to have chart success or mainstream success, but that was never my main goal,” RAYE said. “My main goal is artistic integrity and just loving wholeheartedly what I share with the world and having some time to reassess that and make that the primary. It’s been a really beautiful, ugly, gorgeous, terrible, fun, and liberating process.”
RAYE also shared the inspiration behind the track’s messaging: “I think, as a woman, when you’re processing such things in life, there are not really any healthy outlets for it. I think women do stereotypically face a lot of pressure to seem like they’ve got everything together — to be polite, to be smiley, to be kind, and grateful, and all of this stuff. So I wanted to create a story that was very blunt and honest about that time in my life.”
RAYE enjoyed unabashed expression in a different medium at New York Fashion Week, where she caught up with the likes of Ice Spice and Lil Nas X. Check out RAYE’s snaps from NYFW below, or watch her “Escapism” performance above.