Amanda Ray's Debut Album Mirrored Images recalls some of my old favorites like Massive Attack and Morcheeba, but also brings in the energy of electro-grunge bands like Garbage. Sade fans will also feel right at home in Ray's rich, deep vocals. While you, like me, may feel unable to not think of these other great musicians while you have Mirrored Images on your iTunes playlist (on repeat, maybe?) Ray adds her own voice and a smack of sci-fi to the unique mix. She draws from an era of music that is often considered stale by many music journalists (the 90's), but was actually rich with underground sounds and new forms of expression, which she has a keen ear for. Ray's soulful, powerful, yet subdued vocals bring the chill European-style hip-hop back beats to life. All together, I could see this album making an appearance wherever there is dancing, parties, lounging or just listening.
One listen to Ray's striking vocals and it's clear that she's not new to music. She is new to making it her full-time career, though. Her first album was made in Atlanta while working a full-time job. Now she's in NYC with an intern, a new album and a tour in the works. This "black electronic sci-fi chick", as Trace magazine called her, has become a very busy woman! However, she made time to talk to us a little about songwriting and making a go as a career musician.
Chicktellectual.com: You've obviously listened to a lot of folks like Massive Attack and Sade, but you have your own unique and more modern sound. How did you develop your sound?
Amanda Ray: I don't think it was developed, it's just my form of expression. All artists are influenced by other artists but when you blend all those beautiful colors together, it will then turn into a unique color of its own.
C.com: How long have you been singing?
AR: Since 13 years old.
C.com: Did you start writing songs right away?
AR: Yes. I used to study song writing styles of Prince. Some of his songs were very abstract and I love that style of writing. Back in the day Prince had to find creative ways to express himself. For example, he couldn't say "God" in his songs back in the day.
C.com: Do you mean Prince wasn't religious and just never happened to mention God, or was there some specific reason he avoided it?
AR: Well I heard him say in a (rare) interview that he used other words to describe God because the label didn't want him to say it in his songs.
C.com: Wow, I've never heard that. What about you, how do you go about writing a song? Where does your inspiration come from?
AR: Sometimes the music tells me what to write and sometimes my experiences and perceptions guide the music. I find it can sometimes be harder for me to write a song around a title. For example, when I saw the name "Ripple Junction," I thought that would make a great song title but I didn't know what I wanted to talk about. Songs like that will take a bit more time to write because I have to do research on it first.
C.com: Can you describe a typical working day?
AR: Right now, I'm doing a lot right now. Working closely with my intern, creating a live ethereal concert experience. Making tons of calls to companies, organizations, band rehearsals, working on live performance video, booking, designing and creating my own outfits and set design, writing a new concept album based on a sci-fi story I'm also writing. Going out networking as well.
C.com: It sounds like you are working on many different aspects of the creative process, and, at the same time, super busy! As you start to move to being a full-time musician, who have been your biggest supporters, emotionally or otherwise?
AR: Now that I am a full-time musician and owner of a production company, TerraKira, there are a few people who I look up to the most. And they are other full-time visual artist friends such as: Dubelyoo, Maurice Evans, Grace Kisa, Charlie Palmer. All these people showed me that it was possible, and I really admire them a great deal for what they do. I'm very fortunate to have support from so many people and who continue every day such as: Anita Stoudmire, my Aunt Sara, Gene Evans, William Allen, Ray Fitzgerald.
C.com: Tell me about your new company and your upcoming album.
AR: The new Album, Surraeon (Surreal Age) is a concept album which will also be a webisode and eventually a movie. The album will be released early next year. A few rough versions of some songs are on the myspace page, such as "Solar Gypsy." With my company TerraKira, and through entertainment, music and art, my goal is to bring a fresh and hopeful perception on the future and to advance the idea that individuals can affect significant and positive change.
C.com: When can we expect your next live show?
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