Introducing: Lauren Ray

It's not easy trying to catch a break as an up and coming artist in 2016. Although music is more freely available and there are plenty of platform it's meant an overwhelming amount for listeners to discover. We caught up with Lauren Ray to talk about holding down a day job, songwriting in Nashville, and her upcoming debut album.

Hi Lauren, can you introduce yourself?
Yes of course! My name is Lauren Ray, I am a singer and songwriter based in London, I released an EP Paying For Love back in October and am now gearing up for the release of my next single ‘Drive’.

How did things get started for you?

I have been singing, writing and gigging for as long as I can honestly remember but I didn’t really start taking it seriously as something I could legitimately do until I moved to London (after University) when I went into a studio to record my very first EP Question. This was my first real experience in a studio and I just fell in love with the whole process so I knew this was something I had to keep doing for as long as possible in life.

You’re still doing a “real” job as well as the music, how does that impact your music and ambitions?
Well I decided I needed to learn about the music industry from the business side as well as the creative side so I worked for Phonographic Performance Limited aka PPL for two years and am now at one of the major record labels which has been a massive eye opener and an extremely educational experience. For a while the full time job did get in the way a little of my creative output but I was learning about the industry, the politics, the admin, the ‘behind the scenes’ which has only helped me now that I’m able to put more time and energy into my music. My colleagues at work are very supportive and I am only in the office four days a week to allow more time for my music development which has made a huge difference in what I’ve been able to accomplish - like record my first album.

What have you been listening to that finds its way into your music?
I listen to so much music and so many artists from different genres that I can only imagine that it all seeps in to my writing in some way but I am a sucker for a beautiful vocal so I guess I would have to mention First Aid Kit, Mindy Smith, Laura Marling, Ray LaMontagne and Amos Lee.

What’s your approach to songwriting?
I’m fairly relaxed about the whole process and am certainly one who will happily wait for inspiration to strike which may not always be at the most opportune times, my phone is filled with notes, random voice recordings and emails sent to myself from work. I do tend to write the lyrics first - not always - but certainly recently I have found myself writing the entire song on my laptop before I even touch the piano. I find it easier to create a melody and a feeling for a song if I already know what the message is supposed to be.

Have you taken part in any of the songwriters rounds when you’ve been in Nashville?
No, I haven’t but I’d love to! I always go to them when I’m there but the only place I’ve played is the Bluebird [Cafe, the famous Nashville music venue] which was amazing.

And how do you find Nashville? Do you like it there?
I absolutely love Nashville! There is so much creativity wherever you go in that town and everyone is so open to collaborate which makes for a warm welcome. I was so surprised the first time I went at how many incredible artists and writers were happy to make time to write with me! If I could spend more time over there I would do it in a heartbeat.

When can we expect to hear a full length record from you?
The plan is to release the album early Summer 2016, I’ve just been finalizing the artwork.

How has your Caffe Nero tour been?

Really good fun, I’m really grateful for Caffe Nero’s support. I’ve been going to places in the UK I’d never been and meeting so many lovely people. It’s been a great opportunity to play my music and get it in front of so many new audiences. They have asked me to play the Caffe Nero stage at Cornbury Festival this year too which I’m really looking forward to.

And following that, where’s the strangest place you’ve played live?
I was asked to play at a fashion show event in a bar in London about six years ago which was good fun but strange because I generally don’t consider my style of music as fun-bar-drinking-catwalk-friendly music but it seemed to go down well so I’m not complaining.

Are you excited for 2016, how do you see it playing out for you?
I am so excited for this year as I feel like everything I’ve been working for all these years is finally coming together; I have the new single 'Drive' coming out in April, another single and the album coming out in the summer, I’ll be gigging a lot more with Caffe Nero and I’m just curious now to see how people react to the album and where this all will take me.

We always like to check whether there’s a musical style you just don’t get?
Oooh good question! Well I’m fairly open to most genres (I have even been to a few Metal gigs in my time) but I would have to say Screamo isn’t really my cup of tea but each to their own and all that.

What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
If I could steal any artists’ success in music who’s would it be? My answer would be Laura Marling because I really respect her as an artist and she has achieved so much already so young.

Finally, how do you take your coffee?
I wish I could say something sophisticated and grown up here but I am very much a Soy Milk Latte with a dash of caramel flavouring added in for good (unhealthy) measure.

Thanks so much for your time Lauren. Good luck with the single.
Thank you very much for the questions and for the luck.

If you want to find out more about Lauren then you can visit her website.

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