On stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall in front of a sold-out crowd last September, RAYE stripped down to her underwear. Unlacing her corset and kicking off her silk suit trousers, she gave an enchanting performance of “Body Dysmorphia”. It’s a powerful track which confronts her own complicated relationship with her body, and performing it live with the conviction and strength she always gives, was intensely moving for the 6,000-strong crowd – and everyone else who watched it on TikTok thereafter.
Almost a year on from the long-awaited release of her debut album My 21st Century Blues, her perspective on life, her own sense of self, and the stratospheric journey she’s been on is still evolving for the better. “I’m feeling validated!” the former Cosmopolitan UK cover star tells me. “A year and a half ago, I was in the opposite place to where I am now. I had a chance to have another go at being the artist I wanted to be. I've made memories I could have only dreamed of – music in the charts, the Royal Albert Hall performance, all the festivals. Being on telly! It’s all still ridiculous to me.”
We’re chatting today for the London-born musician's collaboration with H&M Move, a new-season drop that blends the worlds of fashion, music, and sports. It's a stylish and body-celebrating collection of workout sets that prioritise functionality, liberating movement, and enhance your ability to look and feel confident in the skin you’re in. Fabrics, in a chic colour palette of steel greys, coffee brown, sleek black and a wicked neon green, are carefully crafted with H&M Move's sweat-wicking DryMove™ and extra-supportive ShapeMove™ functionalities. Across a 45-piece clothing collection and 23 accessories for women, sizes range from XS-XXL, with additional 3XL and 4XL on selected styles. Stand-out pieces include a high-cut, metallic silver body, a three-piece crop top-leggings-shrug set, and soft athleisure joggers.
RAYE fronts the campaign in visuals alongside two of her close friends and collaborators, dancers who have worked with her on choreography and supported her on her world tour. The visual campaign sees RAYE let loose, working out and dancing lithely to a version of her culture-shifting hit "Escapism".
“I love to incorporate movement and dance into any of my visuals,” she explains. “I have a choreographer who I work with a lot and she’s brilliant.” While on gruelling international tour runs, RAYE and her choreographer will seek out new ways to move their bodies in each city – whether a spin class, yoga session, or dance party. “We love to train and dance together,” she says. “In the beginning, I was scared to let go, but I’ve learned to love it and move in a way my body enjoys naturally. Bending, twisting, rolling on the floor. Like you see in the campaign! Movement brings out something that’s dying to come out.”
RAYE says she was initially “shocked” to be approached for the H&M Move campaign. “Like, I’m not giving ‘Fitness Instagram Babe’! But they understand the beauty of movement in a deeper way. We agree it isn’t about being ripped and protein smoothies. It’s about being excited to move your body in a way that makes you feel confidence and love.”
The collab also naturally aligns with her own values. “I love that I’ve got some meat on me, and I love that these campaigns have a no retouch or editing policy. So this is me – raw, natural. That’s still very refreshing and future facing,” she says.
My 21st Century Blues showcases RAYE’s radical approach to songwriting – cathartic and candid, body-shuddering emotion and expressive honesty that doesn’t shy away from difficult, uncomfortable topics. In fact, it constellates them, setting her lyrics about music industry misogyny, societal pressures on women, and reckoning with self-destructive nights out to clubby beats, soul, and smoky jazz. As well as “Body Dysmorphia”, there’s “Ice Cream Man”, a song about sexual assault and its long-lasting effects. It’s devastating and heartbreaking, but there’s also RAYE’s empowering declaration: ‘I’m a woman / A very fucking brave strong woman.’
“I wanted to discuss some really hard topics on the album,” she says. “Some things that are tough to say out loud. They’re things I found, growing up, difficult to talk about with even my closest friends or my family. I fought battles alone. But I can be so open on stage about my experience with eating disorders and body dysmorphia. It’s actually a beautiful thing, to find this way of articulating it. I even get squirmy talking about it now! But on stage, my music is that safe setting. On that stage, I have conviction – that’s important for people to see.”
“Self love is one of the hardest things to achieve,” RAYE adds. “I’m working on it every day.”
It’s a difficult world to cultivate self love and body confidence in, as a young woman in the music industry or otherwise, gym or street, IRL or URL. “We’re all confronted by these intense amounts of content, where everything is edited and fitting an ideal, and algorithms that work to make us feel the pressure to fit the mould,” RAYE says. “It’s not so simple to talk about, it’s so complicated. But when I perform, I feel like I’m owning it and doing something. I don’t always love the skin I’m in, but exposing that vulnerability is something people relate to, and it makes me pour some more love into myself.”
“For me, movement plays into my body image in a way that’s much deeper than the physical reflection,” RAYE adds. “Sweating, releasing those good endorphins allows me to feel so proud to get up and exercise. I find any time I’ve exercised to lose weight or have a goal in mind about an ‘ideal body’ it doesn’t make me happy. Movement is best when it’s about feeling good.”
It just so happens on the day we chat too, that RAYE has been nominated for *seven* awards at this year's BRITs. Monumental – a record-breaking moment. “I'm so grateful. This is surreal! Still a year on from my album dropping, people are discovering the album. It’s not just one song or a viral moment, it’s got a longevity I love. People keep seeing my art.”
To celebrate the new H&M Move collection and campaign, RAYE performed a selection of her biggest hits in an intimate live show at East London’s Village Underground. She wore a steel blue sports unitard from the collection: “It’s just so cute and it lets me move freely”. Gym floor to dance floor and centre stage – sorted.
And her advice for young women wanting to explore movement? “It can be intimidating,” she admits, “But a really great way to start is with a friend, sibling or partner – it minimises the pressure. Be open to giving things a try – everyone has different bodies, personalities, stamina levels, rhythms. Running sure as hell isn’t for me. 6AM starts aren’t either. But I love boxing – on the bag, every obstacle or trials and people who get in my way are in front of me. I don’t hold back. I love dance and learning choreography. None of that feels like exercise or a chore. Never put too much pressure on yourself.”
“I think it’s important to think about your body’s relationship with movement as a constantly evolving process, depending on where you're at in life. Like a medicine, like a mood.”
RAYE x H&M Move's collection is available to shop online and in-stores now
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