To say 2019 has been a big year for RayRay would be a major understatement. The eclectic writer, rapper, producer, and singer released her EP titled Alien Invasion earlier this year with Barong Family. Not slowing down anytime soon, within the last four weeks she has also released three new tracks.
With performances at Tomorrowland, Glastonbury, Ultra Singapore and ADE, she has quickly emerged to the front of Taiwan’s Electronic Music Scene.
We caught up with RayRay to talk about Alien Invasion, collaborating, and the electronic music scene in Taiwan.
Firstly, congratulations on the release of your second EP ‘Alien Invasion’. How did you come up with and develop this concept?
I dropped my second EP’ Purple Alien’ on Barong Family last year as an introduction of myself to the EDM world. Then this year, I named my EP’ Alien Invasion’ to make a statement that I’m going to bring cooler RayRay music to the scene. I want people to recognise me as a DJ, producer, and rapper, so I used my own vocals in this EP. I also tried to add different genres and different elements to the EP, such as Jersey Club and House music. You can see this EP as a summary of 2018.
Tell us more about the EP, how did your collaborations come about?
I have three collabs on this EP!
‘Back n Forth’ with Aazar, who is the dopest producer from France. We made this track together at ADE in 2018. I invited him to one of my studio sessions during that week, and we started this super exciting track. I kinda paid tribute to Aqua’s classic song ‘Barbie’. Using my vocals, I sang ”Come on baby, let’s go party”. This was also my first time to produce Jersey Club music, so I can’t wait to release this one.
Then there’s ‘Drumstick’ with Juyen Sebulba, who is also part of Barong Family but from Dallas, Texas. I really like to work with Juyen, because we like to experiment with some unique elements and add them to our music. ‘Drumstick’ is a lot of fun 150BPM 4/4 kicks Hard House track. I rap on this track too. We also have another single with Yellow Claw, coming soon.
‘Like This’ is with Gianni Marino, a Dutch producer, and Lil Debbie. With Gianni, we have a track called ‘Like That’ on my last EP, which is doing really well, so we made this one as a follow-up track in my new EP. Lil Debbie, who is a super famous rapper from LA, also works with many artists from Barong Family as well, like Yellow Claw and Moksi.
This is a follow-up track with Gianni from my last EP, and I was super excited to have Lil Debbie to be on board. We used ‘Like This’ vocal synth from Lil Debbie in the drop. It’s a very typical RayRay 150BPM trap music. I always have so much fun to work with Gianni Marino. He’s super creative and talented, and with Debbie’s amazing rap and a super catchy drop, I think people will go crazy with this one.
Could you tell us a bit about the electronic music scene in Taiwan? Is there a lot of collaboration and growth within Taiwan? Or are artists tending to branch out internationally?
In my opinion, the music scene in Taiwan is diverse and flexible. There are a lot of good electronic music artists working so hard to promote the scene and their own music. Sometimes, we do collaborations to increase the diversity of the music scene. We have our own local events which are all established by the local producers and musicians. I also have an event called “國語作業簿“ with four other skilled DJs and producers from different corners of Taiwan. We try really hard to promote native language music, and we are doing our best to make people respect and love music from local producers. In our generation, we can easily introduce ourselves to the world through the internet. We can also absorb all the information from it. People are starting to involve themselves in all music activities too such as music festivals and competitions. We are really following the path of the world.
Are artists from Taiwan getting the exposure they deserve? As I said previously, the internet is an easy tool for people to connect. No matter where you are from or who you are, as long as you know how to promote yourself and your music, and are willing to connect with people, then I really believe people will eventually get to notice you.
You’ve mentioned before that your background is in hip hop – when did you get started producing and how did your style develop into what it is today?
I started DJing before producing, and I’ve been collecting vinyl for ten years. I began to DJ with hip-hop music, and J Dilla was my first influence. He is my all-time favourite DJ and producer. When I got to know 90’s music, I fell in love with it right away, and then I found out that J Dilla produces so many tracks I loved. After that, when I started to DJ at clubs in 2010, I expanded to listen to different kinds of music, including electronic. I was so into the bass sound and the low-end sound. I found out that DJ Shadow and Hifana produced a lot of good electronic music but with hip-hop influences. For my productions, I also combine a lot of hip-hop music with electronic elements. Then I discovered trap music around four years ago on Soundcloud, and from there, I was able to meet some producers from the US such as X&G, Josh Pan, Ekali, etc. All of these experiences led up to me joining Barong Family, and from then on, I knew exactly which music I wanted to make and what my fans like.
With so many huge achievements over the past few years – being a Red Bull 3style champion, playing at world-renowned festivals and collaborations with the industries heavyweights, what has been your biggest ‘stand out’ moment in your career so far?
There are so many milestones and moments that have made me into who I am today. For me, being a Red Bull 3style champion in 2013 made the world notice me like a skilful DJ from Taiwan. To be honest, every moment means something to me, so I don’t see any stand-out moments. I appreciate everything I have.
Has signing with Barong Family and Yellow Claw management changed the game for you? During ADE in 2017, Yellow Claw asked me if I had enough music to release an EP on Barong Family, and they introduced me to all the artists from Barong Family. As an artist from Asia, I think I play a major role in the Asia bass music scene, and they saw that. I’m really grateful they gave me these opportunities to work with various artists from around the world. Getting picked up by them provided me with more opportunities to explore the world, meet and work with a big selection of artists. Working with a western label gave me more international opportunities than anything. Personally, I think yes, of course, you can make it as an Asian DJ in the west even if you don’t work with these labels. Nowadays, there are multiple ways to share your music and get heard like sharing your stuff on SoundCloud. With that said, I’d for sure say that it definitely helps.
How do you divide your time between producing and live? Is it a bit of a balancing act? I don’t really divide my time; I tend to mix everything together because my whole life is based around music. I bring my laptop everywhere with me, so if I have some spare time whilst touring, then I try to make music. I’m not really a studio type of person, and I make music anywhere and at any time.
What is your plan following the release of Alien Invasion? Are there any more collaborations you have your sights set on? I have several collaborations coming up on different labels. Such as one with Yellow Claw, Wiwek, Marc Benjamin & Juyen Sebulba. I went on tour with Yellow Claw & Boombox Cartel in India and have more shows coming up too. I’m hoping to work out a collaboration with Boombox also as I love their stuff. There are countless names in the industry who I’d love to work with, but as of right now I’m taking one step at a time to see what’s possible.