Interviews / Interviews / Music

Transforming Through Creativity with Ray Angry

Ray Angry considers jazz to be the lifeblood of innovation. “I feel like jazz represents the part of music that deals with creating something out of nothing,” he muses. “I’m not one to lean towards a particular genre. I see music as one organism. For me, music in and of itself starts with creativity and improvisation. Classical music, certainly from its early inception, was based on this idea of creating something and then there being rules to go along with that creativity. And jazz is just an extension of that. Music is like a family. Jazz and classical music and hip hop, these are all different branches of different parts of the family, first cousins, third cousins. Music has been an essential part of my form of expression to express how I feel about life and relationships.” His countless partnerships have expanded his perspective into new creative galaxies. Connection keeps us curious about the world around us. “Collaboration allows me to really do things that I never dreamed that I could do. It allows me to step outside of my comfort zone. It allows me to connect with other people’s views of music and life. And it allows me to co-create with another human being, which I think is an essential part of just being alive and just being able to create and have conversations and dialogues about how we feel about music and life. Certainly those collaborations breed new works of art that really are meaningful to me.”

Collaborating with The Roots has enabled his career to soar to another stratosphere. “It means I’m always working with some incredible human beings. I never dreamed that I would be working with The Roots. It’s really such a dream because I’m able to use all aspects of my creativity, whether it’s me as a producer, me as a musician, live stage, collaborating on a TV show. I’ve done the music for most of Questlove’s audiobooks. I’ve scored the Oscars with him during the pandemic and we’ve scored movies together. I met Amy Schumer because I was working with Quest on Inside Amy Schumer season one. I created the theme song for that show. My relationship with The Roots allowed me to meet someone like Amy, who I’ve been working with ever since. I’ve done the theme music for all of her shows and I’ve composed music for Life & Beth. Working with The Roots is a very important aspect of my existence as an artist.” Quarantine gifted him a fresh burst of creative gusto. “It took the pandemic to really push me to really take my artistry to the next level, you know? The pandemic definitely woke up a sleeping giant,” he laughs. Film and television truly light him up. He is beyond enamored with making narratives shine through music. “The thing that I love most about it is that music is such a great tool to tell a story. I believe that it’s important for us as human beings for stories to be told. Music is a great collaborator in the field of just telling stories. I love film and television. I love working with all sorts of people. I love telling all sorts of stories and using music in a way to aid people in telling their stories is something that I really love doing. You’re providing a service. I love learning and growing in that field and I’m looking forward to scoring some big Hollywood movies one day.” When Ray contemplates his legendary career, his mind immediately falls to leading the way for the next generation of artists. “I think about leaving a body of work and leaving, um, my own stamp that just inspires someone to really push through their fears and insecurities to be who they really want to be, you know? I really want to inspire people to go for it and really live and fulfill their dreams. I want to leave a body of music that’s also inspiring for people to study and want to learn from and that heals and blesses and enriches their lives in many ways.”

That effort to galvanize others starts within the community. Everyone needs someone to believe in them. Ray wants you to know that he is that guy. “I have an event that could really revolutionize television and how artists see themselves and how they express their artistry and how they connect to the audience. The event is called Producer Mondays and it’s a safe space for artists to create with an authentic palette. It’s run like a studio session at Nublu in Manhattan. An artist gets to create in the moment and the audience gets to be a part of the studio session. It’s my dream to turn this into a TV series.” The impact of Producer Mondays has been far-reaching and profound. “The common comment that I’ve gotten is, ‘Producer Mondays saved my life.’ A lot of people leave the space enriched and blessed. I really feel that this could be something that could be great for television. On television, you have music shows that are either exploitative or you have an unauthentic experience where an artist might be on American Idol where everyone’s competing. It’s my estimation that music isn’t about competition, but it’s really about people being their most authentic selves. And that’s what Producer Mondays is. That’s something that’s really dear to my heart.”

Ray has many projects in progress. “I’m working on Life & Beth season two right now with Amy Schumer. My co-composer Timo Elliston and I are working on the score. We’re really excited about this new season. There’s some fun and humorous things happening with the show, and also some serious subject matters that are being dealt with. It’s really an honor to work with Amy Schumer. I’m just excited about creating in general and being able to connect with various creatives and add my two cents to the world of the music industry and the world of the music itself.” That perspective will be coming sooner than later! “I have a single coming out called ‘Mother’s Love.’ The single is a part of my album, which is a body of work solely dedicated towards relationships and those relationships that I’ve fostered, whether it be the first time meeting Prince and having a conversation with him in the elevator of his home, or working with Sting, or relationships with my parents, my brothers, my family, with my heroes. It’s solo piano. That’s coming out this summer. I’m really excited about ‘Mother’s Love,’ which is dedicated to the memory of my mother.” The album is a fitting homage to a man whose career has been nourished by so many life changing bonds. 

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Transforming through Creativity with Ray Angry. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ray Angry. 

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