Origin: Los Angeles, California
Our fellow creative director, Madison Everett, had the pleasure of conversing with upcoming singer/songwriter, Ray Silvers. Born and raised straight out of LA, Silvers mashes multiple genres bringing something new, beautiful, and definitely, a new addition to your library. Check out a snippet on our IGTV / Youtube of the interview or read the full interview below:
Madison: Tell us a little bit about yourself: what you do, your age, where you're from?
Ray Silvers: I am Ray Silvers. I am 18. I'm from LA, born and raised. I am a singer/songwriter and I also play a few instruments. I've been a classical violist since I was eight. I play a little guitar, a little piano, and that's what I do.
Did you grow up in a musical family? If not or if so, when was the point where you decided music was your path or that you wanted to pursue it?
I grew up in a very musical family. My father made sure that I and all my siblings had to choose an instrument. There's six of us so we all chose differently. I was always surrounded by music. My dad was a musician but it wasn't until the end of sophomore year of high school where I really felt music was my path and my passion and that I really needed to pursue it.
And I had read that you are in Boston for school correct?
I am in Boston, yes.
Did you always want to go there (Berkelee College of Music) or was that something that you kind of decided later on out of a few colleges?
I didn't even know what it was until junior year because that's when I started researching colleges and I was like "shit I really have to get on the college grind". And it's when you're researching first for a particular passion and area of study, you always want to look for what is the best in this particular study and for contemporary music, Berkelee is the number one college. So I was like "alright, I'm only going to apply to Berkelee” and I only applied to that school. There's nothing anywhere else that seems right for me and luckily I got in. So yeah, that's where I am now studying.
When creating music, is there a certain genre or song you go to immediately, or do you like to stay experimental?
I think I like to stay experimental. My writing process has changed a lot throughout this past year alone. I used to just be very folky and a classic rock kind of influenced and only write on my acoustic and usually start with chords and it'd just be me and the guitar in that very tight relationship. But now that I produced with someone else, it's kind of like "OK, what kind of groove do we like, we like this groove, I'm going to write a song off of the screw.." and I've kind of been taking a lot from different elements and different people and artists that I really like and I kind of want to emulate it. It's very much less of a particular style and more of a kind of element. So yeah, it's very experimental now.
Along with that topic, do you have a certain era that you pull music inspiration from and what is it in that era that inspires you?
I think for sure from the 60s and 70s, it's very much the songwriters that inspire me. I look up to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Carole King immensely, Patti Smith. Those are the people I really look to for their writing skills and their style. But in terms of the production of our music, it's very modern. And I'm really into Lorde and Parcels and Florence and the Machine. All of those people and just funky people now. I think my style takes from very different time periods in different ways but I kind of pull them together.
You have a new song "Drive" that you released, now your creative process behind that and creating that song specifically, was there a certain end goal you were going for emotionally or sonically?
I think I wanted it... It's really weird. That song is really odd how it was made. It was one night and I was like "I really like this drum groove". And then we emulated it in our own kind of way. And then I was like "alright, now let's find this key, I like that key, can you play this chord progression for me" and we were doing it. And then I was like "OK, I can put it on loop" and I just started singing over it. And then immediately came the "maybe part". "Maybe it's the way I... blah blah blah". I just started singing that and on the spot just came and I was like that's actually really catchy. And I don't know it's crazy. It was very collaborative. This other guy who plays keys, Isaac. And I was like "Can you play this chord progression on the keyboard with this sound". And he came on my keyboard and then he played it. He inverted the chords and I was like "that sounds so good". And it just made it sound mysterious. It had this sort of unknown ethereal quality to it and then it just kind of became "Drive" and there's something about this that's really indescribable. I can't really describe what I'm hearing or what I'm seeing but it gets it.
How many people are part of your immediate creative team or your collaborators?
Immediate, it's just me and Jasper Harris. It's just me in person.
I wanted to ask you because I think it's something that with the music industry and art industry, it's so mainstream or kind of coming to a mainstream point. What are you bringing to the music industry that sets you aside from other upcoming artists or established artists?
I think that today's pop is very much of a money grab. And I think it's really unfortunate that the depth in music has, it's still there, but kind of gone in the things that we hear on the radio 24/7. It's very much like "OK look that was catchy" but that's all that there really is to this song. And I think with me, I present something to you and you really have to listen to it again and again and again to really grasp the entirety of the piece of music. And I think with "Drive" as a relay into my type of music. I don't think you could really listen to it once and hear every single element of it and understand what I was really even talking about. I think you have to listen to it once and then again and then you're like "OK look I kind of understand a little bit more now." I listen to it again and I understand it a little bit more and I think that also reflects me as a person and how I am and... that was really deep. Wow.
I appreciate it.
I'm not one particular genre. Yes, the song is "poppy" and yes it's funky and it's kind of like folky at the same time but I think it's hard to be able to really categorize it or have it consist amongst many other songs like I don't know where this falls. And I think my next song is really different from this one. And I think I'm good, I just do what I want, what my heart desires and I'm not going to be an artist that someone can really categorize and say "Oh I think that she's this genre," I want to just do what I want to do, what feels right, and what I want to deliver to people.
I love that answer because I think that's what I was going for, especially with the company that we have, which is Nite X, that was honestly our core purpose with the company and with what we wanted to grasp from other artists that we interview is the fact that this industry is so mainstream in any medium. And there are artists out there whether they're upcoming or they're already established aren't in it for the money and are in it because they have a passion, drive, and willpower between what they're pulling from. You really kind of encompassed exactly what I was looking for and the fact that people should really grasp "Drive" for the meaning behind it. When I first listened to it, I listened over and over again. I'm the same way with my work, I pull a lot from older ages like the 60s - 70s. You have to listen to the song a few times to not only hear the sound of it and grasp the different chords but the song and the lyrics. And that's one thing with "Drive" that you definitely accomplished.
So I guess kind of getting into that and you kind of answered this with one before but the inspirations you had mentioned obviously 60s and 70s. What are specific artists that inspire you and what about them is what draws you to them?
Just the singer/songwriters that really become the founders of singer/songwriters; Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Patti Smith and all of these artists from that time period, just the way they wrote. They weren't just writing about "this happened to me" or "Oh I like you and let's like..." They're not just telling day to day things but they're telling stories. They're telling full stories in their songs and you can not understand it just by listening to it. I feel for me, especially when I'm like "Let's digest the song, What are they really talking about, how did they tell this story through the way that they wrote?" And I really have to read it and understand that. And it's just something about it that is kind of mysterious because they know exactly what they're talking about but they won't directly tell you. You have to really try to understand it. And I really love that about those kinds of songwriters.
Yeah, especially Patti. I totally get that with her, there's always an underlying meaning between her songs. Bob was the fact that you would have to almost look into them as people and look into them as what was their inspiration around the song and actually research it because they're telling you one thing. But it's almost a poetic kind of thing like a poem how there's always an underlying meaning but sometimes it gets lost between the words.
Yeah, exactly. I don't think it's interesting to listen to a song and know exactly what they're talking about because there's nothing to really grasp on to and it's boring like I get bored. Listening to pop music that's taken control of today's industry, it's kind of boring and bland. And I want something more exciting. I want to be on my toes and I want to feel like I need to search for meaning. I think that's really missing.
So I guess for the future and as we kind of wrap up the interview, what is next for you? Do you have any exciting news that you want to talk about?
Yeah, I'm starting to film a music video for "Drive." I'm working with a great team of all females. It feels really good and I really have a lot of respect for people who are willing to just give their time for free to work with each other. We're all artists trying to make our way in the industry in some way and we're all helping each other out for free and it's really cool. And it's cool to be able to say "yeah, I paid literally no money for this". And it's achievable. Your dreams are achievable. You don't need to be extremely wealthy and you don't need all of these things in order to achieve what you dream. I'm starting my music video and it's going to come out in August, sometime early August. And I think the music video will really help people understand what I'm actually talking about in "Drive". It's not as surface level as people think.
Do you take a lot of inspiration for visuals? So for "Drive" producing a music video, do you think music videos are important when trying to tell a story with a song?
I think humans are completely visual. I think we are such visual people and I think that we love being able to actually see something. It's different just hearing it but when you actually get to see it it's much more engaging and it's like digging your nails into something more. And it's pivotal. You have to show something visual for people to really understand. So I'm really excited about that. It was so weird. I really wasn't thinking about having a music video at all. And then this girl I actually worked with, Erin Moreno, she's directing. She DM'd me and was like "Let's make your video". And I was like "wait... yeah let's make my video" and it's still horrifying. I don't want to mouth words. That's so weird when I think about making the video. So it's cool. I'm really excited to actually get to filming more of that and the post-production process is gonna be really cool. So that's really exciting. And yes I've been working on a new song that I really want to release very soon. It's called "Pretty Young Things." It's social commentary on how young girls are treated in society and the struggles that we deal with and how we navigate life as a young girl. So I'm really excited about that to actually say something and have a voice in some way that's really exciting too. I don't know when I'm releasing that. I'm not sure if I want to wait for a few more songs to maybe release an E.P. or if I want to do it as my next single. I haven't decided but I am working... always working on new stuff.
That's awesome. I'm excited to hear that too. Sounds like an awesome song and I think it's something that one, I love that you're working with all females for your video and two, I love that you mentioned that about the whole purpose behind that song because I think it's so powerful, especially in today's society, it's such a man-driven kind of world. I hate to say that but it is and I love to see women be able to empower themselves and empower other women. And that's awesome.
What are you currently listening to? And you can list a couple of artists or a few songs.
Yeah, I think the artists that I'm listening to right now are really inspiring my sound. I'm really going for funky, fun, feel-good summer right now. And I really love the band Parcels. They're kind of new but I feel like they've also been around for a while but they're really coming up. They're so funky and great.
I love their song "Lighten Up". Yeah, it's great.
So Parcels, always Lorde, she's so great. I'm really digging Maggie Rodgers right now. I really am really into Still Woozy, which is crazy, because Spotify made a playlist for my artist and he was on it and I was like "this is such a compliment to me" because he's so good.
And then we have one more question that's in the comments. Are you going to release an album?
That is the dream. Yes. I have so many songs. They exist in my songwriting book and nowhere else. And I'd love to record them and I'd love to start figuring out how I want them to be produced. I think it's a little scary to me to think of producing an entire album like on a computer, which is like how I've been pretty much producing my music as of right now. I feel like I want to wait to produce an entire album because I think of it as an entire masterpiece. I think of it as the first song to the last song, it is a story. It is a whole life. And for me, I would really want to start doing that if and when the opportunity feels right and I get to work with a whole team of people. That'd be really cool. So I'm just working hard and trying to get myself out there and get my feet wet in the industry until I feel the opportunity and the time feels right. And then I'd love to release an entire album. That's the dream.
Photography by Stella Kim.
Interview by Madison Everett.