Signing to Roc Nation
Rita Ora: “I saw Brynee at a Lykke Li show. She was like, ‘What are you doing?/ and I said, ‘I’m gigging, I’m working, I’m going to college, I’m just trying to do this.’ She told me to go see her the next day. She’s like, ‘I know someone who would be really great for you, Jay Brown.’
"I’m like, ‘Why did you just come out of the blue?’ And she said, ‘Because I’ve heard about you for ages and I just want to do something with you.' I’ve heard that before and no one really followed it through. But she did, she called Jay Brown right there on the spot.
Ty Ty came over and was like, ‘Who is this girl you are all working with?’ Jay was like, ‘She’s a singer from the UK that’s really interesting.’ So anyway, so then they came in and they played some songs and Jay was like, ‘We’d love you to be on the Roc.’
“I spoke to Jay Brown on the phone and he told me to send him some songs. I sent him my demo that I did on my laptop, it was called ‘I’ll Be Waiting.’ It was the first song that I recorded by myself on Garageband. I still have it—I’m embarrassed, it’s so rough. I sound young. I might put it on YouTube though, maybe for history purposes. My sister still thinks I should make it a single.
“I was getting offers from other labels—Universal, Island. A&Rs were promising me a lot of things but not following through. I was just really pissed off. My mom was like, 'Do not rush into anything.' She’s smart. Jay Brown called me two days after I sent him my song and was like, ‘We’d love to meet you.’ I flew out to New York for the first time. Luckily, I have a cousin who lives in New York.
“As soon as I got off the plane, I went to meet up with Jay Brown. I was wearing a Run-DMC T-shirt, my hair was wet, it was raining, I was cold and tired. I was like, ‘Let’s do this.’ I got into the club and they were celebrating Rocawear at the Christmas party. I met Ty Ty and then I met Jay-Z, I didn’t know I was going to meet him. I’m happy I didn’t know because if I knew I would’ve freaked out.
“We went to Roc the Mic, which is Jay’s studio in Manhattan and when we went there, Ty Ty came over and was like, ‘Who is this girl you are all working with?’ Jay was like, ‘She’s a singer from the UK that’s really interesting.’ So anyway, so then they came in and they played some songs and Jay was like, ‘We’d love you to be on the Roc.’
"I knew I wanted to be on that team, they just felt comfortable, they felt like family. To me, it’s not like any other label. They take their artists really personally and they put their heart and soul into every project they do. It was really refreshing to see. I got back to London and I was like, ‘Mom, I’m signed!’”