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UD Low Down: Flames x RAYE in Morocco

Having enjoyed a string of dates supporting RAYE on backing vocals, four members of Flames Collective were lucky enough to board a flight to Morocco, joining RAYE for a private performance in the heart of the desert. Nayana.AB gives us the low down on the experience of a lifetime…

Receiving the call still feels like a fever dream! This was the first time any of us in Flames Collective had ever been asked to go abroad for work and the fact that it was with RAYE made it even more special. To top it off, I got the call on the morning of my birthday! Shortly after the confirmation from our Musical Director Andy, a WhatsApp group chat was created, and the details started coming. We spent the next four days counting down to our flight, buzzing with excitement.

On the morning of our flight, we met RAYE and the team at Gatwick Airport where we all checked in for our flight together. Travelling in a big group was kind of funny, it was like we were on a massive school trip (lol). After getting through security, Basia and I decided to grab some food for the flight. Just as we got to the front of the line, we looked at the board and saw that our gate was closing in 10 minutes. We dropped everything and started running for dear life. If you’ve been to Gatwick Airport, you know that some of the gates are almost a 10-minute walk away. We made it to the gate, gasping for air, only to find out our flight was delayed and we did not need to run after all (more lol). Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions but at least we got a cheeky workout in before the flight.

As we stepped off the plane in Morocco the heat hit us and so did the excitement. We jumped on the mini bus and headed to our hotel. We checked in, found our rooms, freshened up and then we all went out for dinner. It was a really wholesome vibe, we walked to the restaurant allowing us the chance to really soak in the new surroundings. Sat down in the restaurant, shortly after ordering, a group of belly dancers came out – if there is one thing Moroccans do well it is dinner time entertainment! At one point a woman came out with a tray fire on her head and then at another point a whole band came out and started playing live music. We couldn’t help ourselves but to get up and dance. We did it for the culture! When I tell you Moroccan food now has a special place in my heart too…  

The next morning, our call time was 9am. We ate breakfast, jumped in the minivan and then headed into the desert for our sound check. We were driving for at least an hour and a half through the desert before we reached the venue, which was to our surprise literally in the middle of the desert, it was kind of wild. The journey was a bit of a bumpy ride and a little bit scary, but we got there safely thanks to our excellent driver. As we pulled up to the venue they were still building and putting together different parts of the stage and set up – it was like nothing I have ever seen before in my life. 

As we all got to the stage and started setting up, the sun slowly started rising and it didn’t take long for the temperature to soar. Never in my life did I think I would be standing in the middle of the desert being slapped by serious sun whilst sound checking, it was jokes. We definitely underestimated how hot it would get but the scenery and the vibes made it all worthwhile. 

After the sound check, we returned to the hotel and everyone was on the same page as we all headed to take a quick dip in the pool before we had to start getting ready. Before we headed off, I met the other Flames – Jack, Bella and Basia – in my room and did a cheeky vocal warm up. We then got back on the minibus and headed back into the desert as the sun set and it looked magical. When we got back to the venue it was crazy to see how much they had built in the time we were gone. Shout out the team who did that cause they definitely carved out a whole road on top of building two stages and more. We enjoyed some dinner and then we went over all of our vocal parts before heading on stage just to ensure we were sounding clean. Andy would have been so proud!

The stage looked amazing as we performed under the open sky. You could see all the stars, creating a beautiful backdrop for the show. It was a small audience and they sat down with the seating arrangement reminiscent of a wedding, intimate and elegant. RAYE slayed in a stunning white dress and killed it as per usual.

After we performed we all stayed a little longer because we had heard Christina Aguilera was going to be performing and we all wanted to catch her. She came out to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the guest of honour, who was carried out as fireworks lit up the night sky—a bit closer than comfortable! And then we all jumped in the mini bus and headed back to the hotel. 

The entire experience was a whirlwind. We all learned so much about performing overseas and what it was like to be a part of an international touring party. RAYE’s team is such a beautiful group of people and we were all honoured to be chosen for such a wild experience. Thank you so much to the whole team for an unforgettable time. Inshallah, we go again soon. 

Here’s hoping you enjoy the snapshots from our journey, capturing the essence of this incredible adventure. I hope you can feel the excitement and wonder through these images, as if you were right there with us, experiencing every moment. Until next time…

Words: Nayana.AB. Nayana is a vocalist with Flames Collective and a singer/ songwriter. Listen to her music HERE or Flames Collective releases HERE.

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