At the age of 18, Cheney Ray left behind her college life in Canada to pursue a music career in Los Angeles. Now, just a few short years later, she can say that she’s toured Asia with Skrillex, performed DJ sets for the biggest EDM festivals around the world and developed a cult following on Twitch. Beyond the flashing neon lights of whatever electronic stage she’s performing under, Ray is an artist who strives to expose her rough edges and gritty emotions with a newly released EP, “Seasons Change And So Do I.” We caught up with the soulful songstress to learn why she was drawn to EDM in the first place and what she’s learned since becoming a singer-songwriter.
Why did you leave school to pursue music full time? I’ve never been a school person, I’ve always been a creative person. Since before I can remember, I’ve been medicated for learning disabilities and when I went to college, I felt forced into it. The more I was in college, the more I hated it and wasn’t feeling like myself. By my fourth year I was like, “You know what. Fuck it, I am going to start doing what I want to do.”I researched how to produce music and was thinking, maybe I could be a manager, but I fell in love with the culture of producing beats. SoundCloud was such a big part of the industry at the time and it steamrolled from there. Why did you gravitate towards electronic music? When I was about 14, I went to my first show in Vancouver, which was DeadMau5 with Calvin Harris. I just fell in love with the culture. It was something so new to me and something so inviting, I instantly clicked with it. I was really into trap music at the time, so that scene was what I wanted to make in that moment, and that’s what birthed it.
At first I was making trap rap beats, but as I grew up, my taste in music changed and I began making more Future-type melodic stuff. The minute I started singing vocals was when I knew I wanted to be a songwriter. I was always a good writer and loved poetry, so I wanted to utilize my talents to the fullest. Then I learned how to play the piano and how to write, sing and breathe, and shifted to more of an indie-pop electronic energy, which is where I am at now.
What kind of emotions are you tapping into for your listeners? I’m putting out everything I’ve been through. “Peaches” was one of my first, pop leaning records with my vocals on it and that was about the inequality with women in our society. That’s something I’ve always struggled with, so I really wanted to write about that. I write about heartbreak and trauma, mental health and anxiety, depression, everything I’ve gone through in my life, so people know they aren’t alone. I don’t want to only put out amazing and happy records, because I’m not always feeling amazing and happy. I record my entire range of emotions, so people can relate, learn, or just be with it.What have you learned about yourself from the music you’ve created? I’ve learned I should listen to my writing. It’s so funny, I was looking back at this EP I’m putting out and I was like, “Why was I not present with these feelings?” So now, my heart’s on my sleeve when I write. I started learning to listen to myself and I have a lot to say and I want to be able to say it.