How She Got There: RAYLA, Singer & Songwriter

Name: RAYLA

Age: 17

Twitter Handle: @Rayla

Instagram Handle: @rayla

Sure, we might be high-key jealous whenever we see a hyper-successful person who’s younger than us. TBH, it’s honestly refreshing to see how social media and the internet, in general, has allowed the younger generation to bolster their passions sooner.

While Neopets might have helped us hone our coding expertise at an early age (because we couldn’t let our fan-based Guilds look drab), RAYLA has always found her passion at an early age. Instead of using a using a virtual community to discover her passion, RAYLA’s been immersed by music since she was five, which has inspired her to become the accomplished singer and songwriter she is today.

At only 17 years old, RAYLA has opened from Olivia Holt and Jana Kramer. Plus, she’s used her lyrical aptness to create empowering songs that help connect people who are going through similar situations. After all, music can connect people, regardless of how divergent their experiences might be, and RAYLA’s also used her passion for music to connect and work with other artists. From Halsey, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Camila Cabello, RAYLA has been inspired by a plethora of musicians and she has a lot of advice about breaking into the music industry.
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

one for the books @thatgrlaudrey

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Her Campus: Since you're a singer and songwriter and you write songs for a lot of notable artists, what does a typical day as a songwriter entail?

Rayla: Well, every day is different, that's for sure. But most days, I guess my preferred day is to just go to the studio with like a mood or an idea and just brainstorm and kind of talk to my producer about what I’m feeling and what I want to write about. And then he’ll kind of say, “Okay, cool, we’ll start creating the music and creating the beat." Then, that’s when I’ll start thinking of melodies and writing lyrics basically.

Sometimes, I like to work with other writers because I kind of like throwing my ideas off of them. So, every day’s different, definitely. But most the progress is pretty good.

HC: Absolutely, and that's kind of entertaining that every day is different, so it doesn’t get too mundane. And then what’s the best part of being a songwriter in your opinion?

Rayla: Probably that I just get to show how I’m feeling. It’s really cool because whenever I write a song, especially when it’s an emotional song, it’s literally like I’m letting the world see my personal diary. And it’s cool, in a way, because I say exactly how I’m feeling. Nobody ever truly knows exactly who it’s about or exactly what happened. I think that’s kind of cool because in my own way it’s very therapeutic. I definitely feel lucky and fortunate that I get to work that way.

HC: Absolutely. And I I know your song “Boys Like You” is a very empowering song written from a woman’s perspective of being used by a bad boy and kind of realizing that and coming into her own because of that situation. Were there any other messages that you hope listeners gain from that song?

Rayla: “Boys Like You” is definitely just about a toxic relationship that I was in, so it’s a personal, true story. Basically, no matter what this guy would do, I would always find myself going back to him and knowing that wasn’t right. I feel like this is something that so many so many teenage girls go through. So it’s important for them to know that they’re not alone.

And I wish that was there when I was going through that, that I had the following case. But just hearing the feedback about the song has been really cool because when I did write this, I did feel alone. And everybody has sort of been like, ‘I really love this song.’ Even if you’re 25 or 13.  It’s definitely like a comforting song.

HC: Absolutely. I think it's necessary, in terms of self-care, to really have that feeling of togetherness and community. Like you said, you felt like you're going through this alone, and I feel like your song especially will help others in similar situations get through that and realize that they are empowered.

Rayla: Definitely.

HC: And then what inspired you to become a singer and a songwriter?

Rayla: Honestly, I don't know.  I mean, I grew up in a house full of music. No one in my family is musically talented, though they’d like to think so. But just 24/7, my dad was playing anything under the sun, like night and day all the time, just Johnny Cash, Stevie Nicks and everything. So, I grew up with a really wide variety of music, and I just remember being really young and I would literally perform on my dishwasher in my diaper.

I would always tell my mom that whenever I would cry or scream, it was because I was practicing, and it’s always just been something I wanted to do. I was a performer when I was five years old, in my opinion. I’m just lucky because my mom has a lot of [those memories] on film, so we’re going to have to release those one day.

HC: That’ll be amazing. But it would also be interesting for a music video even.

Rayla: Yeah, no, I know!

 

HC: So how did you first get involved in the industry?

Rayla: So, I’ve always liked to write music. I actually wrote one of my first songs when I was like five years old. I remember I couldn’t even write it, so my sister wrote the lyrics. And, I just started off writing little things here and there. Then, there was one summer where I’d broken my leg. So, I had the entire summer and I just got into songwriting. When I was 11 years old, I found this local studio, and it was really cool because all of the kids there, they were my peers. So as an 11-year-old, usually when you’re in this business, you kind of write with older people who don’t really understand. But this was cool because I got to write with people who understood how I was feeling as an 11-year-old.

So, I always did music. Always liked to sing. Then a couple years ago, for high school, I decided to be homeschooled, and that’s sort of when I really picked it up and took it really seriously. I took trips to the city and Nashville and LA, so it’s been a really long journey but it hasn’t felt that way.

HC: That’s always good when it doesn’t feel like a long journey because that means you’re very passionate and immersed in your passion. Since you’ve been through this journey since you were five, do you have any words of wisdom that help keep you empowered and motivated in your work?

Rayla: One of the things I really recommend, for whoever is trying to do this, is that I always keep my mom around. I think that definitely helps keep me grounded because I know that I’m not actually truly alone. She keeps me going a lot of the time because sometimes I’m just like, ‘Ugh, mom, I’m 17 and I want to do this.’ And she’ll be like, ‘Let’s do this after. This is your dream and you’ve always wanted it.’ So having a mom to give you advice here and there is helpful.

HC: Definitely. And finding that motherly figure probably helps when you’re on the road, too. Then, what’s one mistake that you’ve made along the way? And what did you learn from it?

Rayla: There have definitely, probably, been a couple of mistakes along the way. But, I don’t always look at them as mistakes. I just kind of like to look at it as this is what happened and let’s just grow from it. But, have I made any major mistakes yet? Probably, but it mostly just some minor performance hiccups here and there. But, I just like to grow and learn from whatever, so I don’t look at them as mistakes. I kind of look at them as a way of growing.

HC: Then, what’s been the most surreal moment of your career so far?

Rayla: Definitely hearing my song on Radio Disney because I literally grew up listening to Radio Disney. So, I got in the car waiting for it to come on, and I was really excited and then I heard them say ‘Rayla’ on Radio Disney. And I just started bawling. I had no control, and I just started crying. Sometimes I’ll be in the car, and it’ll come on and I’m like, ‘That’s me.

HC: Definitely. And that had to have been a nostalgia-induced accomplishment to have something you grew up listening to playing your song.

Rayla: Definitely, just knowing that people in Ohio could be listening. It’s just so cool because Radio Disney reaches across the country, so it’s just super weird to know that I was living in New Jersey and listening to it in somebody’s car, but someone could’ve been listening to it in their room in California.
 

HC: Absolutely. And then, I know you spoke about your writing process and working on different projects a little earlier on. However, is there any advice you’d give to someone who’s currently in the field, or even a different industry, who are trying to balance working with very different clients or artists?

Rayla: Just kind of keep working and keep writing. I mean, I wrote my first song when I was five, and that’s probably not very good. But, you just kind of have to keep working at it, and you’ll adjust eventually. I know that I’ve been all over and have worked with so many different people, and you just have to be yourself and people will love you.

HC: And then do you have any overall advice for college-age women who might want to get into songwriting or singing for the first time and they’re not sure where to start?

Rayla: Same thing. Just put it out there. With what we want to do today, we have social media so it’s easy to post videos. Just work on yourself and the sound and connect with other people, who are trying to do the same thing because everybody’s really just trying to get somewhere. So find the person, find yourself and just keep staying true to yourself. It’ll work out.

HC: Absolutely, and surround yourself with motivational people, like you with your mother. Then, how has your songwriting experience evolved since you first started your career? And how do you hope it will continue to evolve in the foreseeable future?

Rayla: I definitely think it will keep getting better and better. I mean, the more you write the better it gets. Even if I went and wrote a song and it wasn’t my best work right now, maybe the next time it will be. So it’s kind of a long process. But, it’s kind of cool. Ed Sheeran was doing an interview and he said that he didn’t start getting good at songwriting until his 100th song or something. So, that’s kind of my spiel about it too. It’s not going to be perfect when you first do it, but stick with it and it’ll come more naturally because you’ll start going through these life experiences and you’ll want to talk about it.

And, that’s sort of how it is with me that I go through something, and I’m immediately finding inspiration from things. And I’ll just be like, ‘That’s cool, what can I do with that?’ So, you just kind of have to look for things and let [your songwriting] take its own course. Let it evolve itself.