By Nicholas Jason Lopez
With both her father and grandmother in the music industry as managers, Michelle Ray knew music would be involved in her life, in some way, shape or form.
She began to train in classical at age 10 and was influenced by the likes of Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars, as she found a way to incorporate soul and pop in her overall sound.
Her talents eventually took her to Season 4 of NBC’s “The Voice,” where she was a member of Team Blake. Since then, she became a mainstay around her Los Angeles hometown and performed at venues like The Troubadour, Hotel Club and The Peppermint Club.
After her previous single “Dear Hollywood” gained traction via local radio airplay in Southern California on 88.5 FM, Ray recently dropped her latest track called “Dark,” which has been described by various outlets as “chilling” and marks a new point of musical maturity for the singer-songwriter.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Ray – who has been hard at work on her debut EP – about what she has been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Michelle Ray – I love how conversational my songs are. A lot of the lyrics are phrases I would say in a conversation. I want people who listen to my songs to be able to relate them to their own life within the first verse.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your new single “Dark”?
Michelle Ray – I’ve suffered from anxiety for many years, the kind that keeps you up at night, the kind that literally makes it hard to breathe sometimes. I have a twisted relationship with it. Sometimes, I feel oddly off when I don’t have it, so I’ve found comfort in my discomfort. I wrote this song with my songwriting besties Michael Blum and Sophie Anne. I’m putting “Dark” out because I want Mental Health to be talked about more. I do see a step in the right direction, but I want to continue to take it a step further. I take medication and go to therapy for my anxiety and guess what… That’s okay! I’m proud of myself for taking the initiative to find ways to cope with it, instead of being ashamed. I want anyone who suffers from anxiety to know that it’s very common and they are not alone.
Music Bugle – What has it been like putting together your debut EP?
Michelle Ray – It’s been such a long and intense process, but I’ve been loving every single step. This EP is going to be an extension of me, of experiences and relationships I’ve experienced and learned from. Some of the songs have been released already and some of them will be new! I can’t wait to share it with the world!
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Michelle Ray – As a performer, my entire life turned upside down. No live shows, no in-person recording sessions, etc.. It forced me to learn how to record my own vocals, comp them, stack them and how to navigate Logic! I worked on singing for ad companies throughout the pandemic, being able to still sing and work from home. There was way less opportunity due to Covid, but it really made me fall in love with what I do all over again.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Michelle Ray – The beach, my safe haven! I love taking long drives and find so much tranquility at the beach. There is something so calming about the openness and seemingly endless blue water. The ocean breeze, sound of the waves, seagulls, etc..
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Michelle Ray – I’ve been really loving Static and Ben El. They are one of my favorite contemporary duos. Their songs just make you feel so good! I write a lot of sad emotional music, so it’s always refreshing hearing artists just smash the “feel good” game.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Michelle Ray – “Someone said, drink the water, but I will drink the wine,” by Frank Sinatra.
Music Bugle – What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
Michelle Ray – I’m a brown belt in Shotokan Karate!
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Michelle Ray – My parents support and willingness to do anything to let my musician dreams become a reality.
Music Bugle – What do you hope for by the end of 2021?
Michelle Ray – I want to manifest my EP hitting 1,000,000 streams on Spotify! I also have been working with my amazing team – TALLER Management and my agent, Natalie Kollar, from LA TALENT – and I want to manifest that I book a Broadway show by the end of 2021!