Singer/songwriter Lauren Ray took things into her own hands to record and release her debut album We Will Need Courage in 2016 with singles ‘Come To Me’ and ‘Drive’ receiving suport from regional radio and BBC introducing. Her new EP Inside This Silence will be available from Friday, August 3rd so we caught up with Lauren to find out more about her music.
I am trying to be more vulnerable with my writing and try out different subject matters.
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what first got you into music?
I’ve always loved to sing , from a young age I was always singing – probably mostly Disney songs for a while but I think it was seeing Lauryn Hill in Sister Act II and then her album The Miseducation of… that really inspired me to want to sing professionally one day. I was lucky enough to finally see her perform recently at Pitchfork Festival in Chicago too.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from?
I grew up hearing Fleetwood Mac, Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones in the home from my parent’s taste but otherwise it was just mainstream radio I was exposed to. With music download and now streaming services I have really got stuck into a whole variety of music and bands and get inspiration from everywhere. I love Laura Marling, When Saints Go Machine, Frank Ocean, Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams…I could go on for ever. Show me an artist who can write a good melody and interesting lyrics and I’m a fan.
How would you describe your style?
My elevator pitch is that my music is singer/songwriter piano led pop music with a polite nod to country.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
I’d love to collaborate with someone like Ryan Adams.
You released your debut album, ‘We Will Need Courage’, in 2016. How did that feel?
Amazing and scary. I self-funded and completely self-managed and released the album and so every decision from the songs, the producer, the style, the artwork to the font was my decision and it’s a scary thing putting so much of your own creativity out there.
What response did it get?
The album didn’t sell a million copies or anything but I have been so happy with everyone’s reaction to it and it’s nice that I’m still selling copies and people are still listening two years on. I got some amazing reviews and some really good UK regional radio support and it has led me to be able to record this new EP coming out and also I am starting work on my second album which is amazing.
What did you learn from that first album?
That the people in my life are amazing and that so many people are willing to help you if you ask for it… or even if you don’t. I also learned that I can trust my judgement and instinct on how I see my music, my style and the songs I choose to record.
You’ve been on tour with Lucy Spraggan, Rebecca Ferguson and Anastacia. How did seeing those fellow singers perform every night influence you?
They were all are so talented and lovely and I learned different things from each of them for sure. I grew in my confidence with interacting with a larger audience by watching these artists do it night after night and it reinstated how important it is to be authentic on stage because audiences really respond to honest moments.
Tell us about your new EP Inside This Silence - what’s is about?
The EP is four songs about the ‘unspoken’ or the things that are hard to say outloud. The title of the EP comes from “Dull Ache” which was the first single, but I felt it really worked across all four songs.
Can you talk us through each song?
The newest single, ‘Be A Man’, is my tongue-in-cheek take on the phrase “be a man”. It’s often used to mean be strong, powerful, macho, particularly when it comes to relationships, but in this instance I’m using it to say ‘be vulnerable’ and say what you’re feeling – something both men and women find hard to do when it comes to taking a risk in lust and love.
“Dull Ache” was inspired by hearing grief described as a dull ache feeling in the pit of your stomach that never really goes away. I’d never heard someone describe grief in this way before and it was really moving and I wanted to make it a positive spin by saying that the dull ache is there to remind you how deep you can love someone.
“Upstream” is about choosing to be strong and dealing with life’s difficulties head on even when it can seem easier to just give up.
“Black Wings” is a comment at how the music industry can feel to new and independent artists. This industry is tough; all artists will experience rejection, financial struggles and uncertainty but a passion for what we do and the allure of the industry keeps us going and keeps us trying, despite how insane this seems to others… hence the opening line in the song “Like a moth gone insane, I will keep chasing the flame.
How does Inside This Silence build on your previous releases?
I wasn’t quite ready to record and release another full length album but had written a bunch of new songs that I felt ready to share with people. I chose a more pop sounding production with the beats and funkier bass lines to move slightly away from the Americana influenced first album. I think my song writing is growing up also – I am trying to be more vulnerable with my writing and try out different subject matters – I hope this EP does this and I really hope people enjoy the songs.
What are your hopes for ‘Inside This Silence’?
My only hope is that people like it and that even more people get to discover and hear it.
When and where can we expect to see you on tour next?
I have an EP launch this week Thursday 2nd at London’s Troubadour but will also be performing a few headline shows later this year end of October/November, but I am yet to announce the dates.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
I would tell myself to just keep writing songs and not worry too much and I should put myself out there more – I’ve never previously been good at self-promoting but now I am a bit older I worry about this less.
Watch the vieo for ‘Be A Man’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates go to laurenraymusic.com.