Q & A with Dean Ray


The unconventional artist

As Dean says…

“I’ve been called mysterious, intense, confusing, crazy and captivating. But at the end of the day, I’m just a guy with a guitar and a story to tell. Live and love…”

Australian audiences became aware of Melbourne-based singer Dean Ray on April 4th during the auditions of X-Factor Australia. Dean had the crowd wildly cheering to his own rendition of ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ with Redfoo telling Dean to ‘check your passport, because you’re out of this world man.’

Dean Ray is heading to the Sunshine Coast, as part of his massive 40-date tour, so we thought we’d chuck him a few questions in the lead-up to his show at Solbar on June 19.

Hi Dean. That’s a pretty extensive and impressive tour you’ve got there… I think I counted 40 dates in total, and you’re heading towards the home stretch.  How has the tour been?  I heard you’ve been joined by ex-Coaster, Kelsie Rimmer on a few dates too.

This tour has been such a blast! I’ve learnt a lot about my self personally, and a lot of music also. Forever growing. Meeting my fans and seeing their faces singing the words back to me of songs from my album, and of my yet to be released originals, is a feeling I can’t describe.
I met Kelsie in Sydney and the name rang a bell, so I introduced myself. We are now close friends here in Melbourne and it has been great to have her on the road with me. Kelsie is unable to join me for the QLD leg of the tour. Wednesday 17th at The Spotted Cow (Toowoomba) Thursday 18th at Solbar (Sunshine Coast) Friday 19th at Sound Lounge (Gold Coast) and Saturday 20th at The Zoo (Brisbane). I have recently met two girls, 13 and 15 years with the harmonies of angels, called “IndiElla” – a Brisbane-based indie-acoustic duo that blew my mind!! They will be joining me for the trip.

A lot of music fans, or newbies to the industry have the whole notion of touring romanticised in their minds, with that whole ‘rock’n’roll’ lifestyle, limos, lavish hotels image conjured up, but little do they know about the boredom of the downtimes between traveling, soundcheck and performing.  How do you fill your downtime in?

I try to avoid downtime. There is an overwhelming low that can consume a musician when you return home after travelling with your “musical family”. I have always suffered from this. I always make sure to have plans when I return home. Camping trips, hiking, songwriting, and of course, the occasional penthouse and warehouse party in Fitzroy.

Back in the days of playing as Pritchy Ray (at the open mic/jam nights/cafe scene etc), did you ever envisage you’d be where you are now? (Personally, I’m not one to endorse going into reality talent shows, but I do understand why some artists chose to.)

I always knew that I would break through and do what I do. I felt it strongly in my heart. But I am not settled in any way. I have much more I wish to achieve in my career before I will consider resting.

Speaking to a mate of both of ours, (Mr Carl Wockner) as I wanted to go back a little further into your career, he did say that you bust out three to five songs a week.  Is that correct?  If so, how/where do you find inspiration for lyrics to these tracks, and how many are kept (as opposed to how many are written, looked at, then gone, ‘naaaah’ at… I know I do that when songwriting)?

The Wock. What a guy. He may just make a special appearance at Solbar… who knows.
Yeh, this is true and false. Some weeks are better than others. I don’t ever TRY to write a song. I let them come to me. I see songs as a gift, I know if the song isn’t working moments after I begin. 

Given that you were a guitarist first, and then evolved into singer/guitarist, I’ve heard that your style is influenced by the likes of John Mayer (awesome), Jimmy Hendrix (goes without saying), and more locally, Tommy and Phil Emmanuel.  Have you had the chance to meet the Emmanuel brothers to extend gratitude for their influence at all (I’m guessing yes to Phil, given that he’s local)?  And should you meet John Mayer, what would you say to him, and given the chance, what song would you jam with him on?

I have never found John Mayer to be an inspiration. We both have the same inspirations, hence why I gravitated to his music. I idolised the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Slash, Angus Young, Muddy Waters, Son House, BB King, Clapton, The Hello Casters, and many more. And of course, the Emmanuel Brothers.
Phil took me under his wing when I was 15 and introduced me to Tommy not long after. Phil and I have a special bond that shall not break. Tommy and I haven’t had much time together as he is always abroad. Just the occasional coffee catch up when he is in a town I am in.

Finally… heard that your favourite chips are Chicken-flavoured Smiths Crinkle Cut Chips… so, do they appear in your rider? (You can thank Wockner for that one, too).

I indeed went through a phase of Smiths. Wockner leaking this information. My tastes have turned to sour cream Pringles lately. It’s all in the green packaging for me.
Cheers, Dean. We’ll be seeing you at Solbar on June 19th.

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