Exclusive Interview with Anjali Ray

How would you classify your music?

If I look at all the music I’ve made over the past twenty years, it’s kind of all over the place since my background draws from so many different influences and I’ve worked with different producers and collaborators. But all of it is driven by feminine vocals, lyrics, and usually piano. My latest album probably has the least piano of all the records so far. Thematically I’d say it’s introspective and focuses often on motherhood, an experience which influenced my writing profoundly.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

Sarah Mclachlan for her vocals and overall production, Tori Amos for the piano, Mark Knopfler for pretty much everything, John Mayer for his lyrics and themes. I was trained in classical piano as well as Hindustani classical vocal singing, so there’s everything from Beethoven to Geeta Dutt in there as well.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

It’s all about connection for me. What I find most rewarding is when someone tells me that they feel moved by what I’ve created, and that it stirred something within them. I’d love for people to be able to turn to my music for comfort or to not feel alone in the big bad world, to hear their feelings mirrored in the songs.

How’s the music scene in your locale?

Well, I live in Los Angeles, and specifically in the South Bay area. While most of the live music here focuses on cover bands (and there are some great ones), several places have been featuring local live artists and I’m grateful to be part of that scene. There are also some huge music festivals here including Beach Life that feature everything from Gwen Stefani to local musicians. It’s great because in a digital world where it doesn’t matter where you’re actually living, the live music scene can sometimes feel a bit starved. But I feel like my locale is moving in a beautiful direction.

When did you know you were destined for music?

Since I was three. The piano was my first love – I was just drawn to it. Singing and guitar came later, and songwriting only when I was in college. Music has been there for me in some tough times and I’ve always been able to count on it as a therapist. It’s also helped me rationalize my multicultural background as I’ve been able to combine both Indian and Western influences in my art.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

I’m dating myself here but I did go to the very first Lilith Fair. I don’t think I was mature enough to appreciate how incredible it was, but I still remember act after act of mind-blowing female power. Emmylou Harris, Indigo Girls, Jewel, Sarah M.

I love playing to small audiences (good thing!) where I can interact with the crowd a bit. Telling the story behind songs is fun too.

Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

I think they’ve all taken their turn as my favorite, but I keep loving “California”. It goes from zero to ninety and all the way back, and really mimics the emotional arc that motherhood has been for me (and continues to be). I love what we did with this one.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?

Truthfully, a year feels like the blink of an eye these days. Most of the past year has been focused on putting together promotional materials for “Dark Side”, and finding a way to ensure the artistry authentically translates to different media, including the bane of my existence, Social Media. I’ve opened my mind up a bit more to the value of different platforms, but I still struggle to find a balance that doesn’t make me groan to have to do it. As with everything, practice makes you better, and I’ll just keep swimming.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be and why?  

I feel like I need a separate answer for dead vs. alive.

Dead: George Harrison. He wrote the best Beatles songs, and his exploration of Indian sounds seems relevant to me. I’d ask him how he navigated the nuttiness of his band’s success and what was his greatest inspiration for writing.

Alive: Sarah McLachlan. Honestly I think she’s my sister.

What’s next for you?  

It’s been a very chaotic year both personally not to speak of globally, and I find myself craving stillness. As I’ve been preparing to release “Dark Side”, I’ve been getting back to the piano to explore writing songs with more space. Music that feels like a snowfall. I’d like to do a no-fuss piano/vocal album. I know it will stretch my songwriting, and it will be an exercise in restraint. But it’s really the foundation of all my writing so far.

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/anjaliraymusic/?hl=en

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/anjaliraymusic/

End of Interview


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