A few years in the making, singer-songwriter Kingsley Ray unleashes the first single from his forthcoming album “For Love”. The song “Replay” is a quintessential R&B / soul romantic tune, with a classic and charming music video to accompany. It’s a display of vocal prowess with courting at the forefront, as he croons “this is how a story goes, for a fairy tale ending.” Kingsley Ray is from Richmond, Va. He was influenced at an early age by a love of writing and singing, feeling the spiritual and emotional connection that music brings across genres. He has helmed his own stamp of urban pop. His sound combines R&B/soul, pop and alternative. The new single “Replay” is a nod to 90’s R&B. It is available at all online retailers.
- Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
Kingsley Ray: I am from Richmond, Virginia. I started at around middle school writing songs and having mini concerts in the kitchen when the parents weren’t home.
- Do you handle both the songwriting and beats on your songs, or do you collaborate with others?
Kingsley Ray: I do most of the writing and arrangements. With beats and production I rely on collaboration and developing a sound that defines the Kingsley Ray sound.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Kingsley Ray: I’ve always referenced back to 90s R&b and 80s pop. Michael Jackson was the epitome of innovative talent and performance presence. I have always loved Whitney and Mariah, Usher, groups like Boyz ll Men and Jodeci.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Kingsley Ray: For this particular project, there is an earnest expression of love and passion, which is the overall theme that resonates in the music- lyrically, sonically, and emotionally. I wanted the songs to really connect with the listers.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Kingsley Ray: Initially, I hated my voice and attempted to sound deeper in my first demos and underground album. There was some training and natural growth that had to happen to fully accept and realize the awesomeness of being unique or having a unique style. My influences are a combination of genres. Many aspects that I thought complicated things, actually worked to form originality.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Kingsley Ray: I think that it is important to implement whatever ideals and/ or beliefs one may feel comfortable sharing, as long as it is for the greater good of the whole.
- Do you write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and trust that people will empathize with your sound?
Kingsley Ray: I used to follow trends early on. There was a thirst and focus for that breakthrough sound that would fall perfectly in line with what’s hot that season. That was early on. Now I focus on my vision.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a beat, or a narrative in your head?
Kingsley Ray: I have amassed a catalog of lyrics, poetry and even demo recordings to reference from at times. But most times, it’s to create in the moment. I am at the point where I will not force it if I don’t feel it. The narrative, lyrics and arrangements just start flowing when the connection is met.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or career so far?
Kingsley Ray: The most difficult thing I had to endure was battling myself- being a perfectionist and for quite a while having social anxiety and fear from releasing my music. It took quite some time for me to walk forward in self assurance.
- On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or career so far?
Kingsley Ray: Releasing “Replay” with a certain level of motivation and new found confidence- controlling my narrative based from my experiences. The positive reception and support equates to success.
- Putting aside the accolades or criticisms that fans or the media may afford your releases, what’s the one thing about you or your music, you think people overlook or misinterpret most often?
Kingsley Ray: I think there could be misinterpretations from being introduced to many, by the single “Replay”. However I am not in the box of neither 90s influenced R&b, nor R&b alone. Soon that will be evident.
- Do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you think everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own way?
Kingsley Ray: Knowing the background of the songs has always magnified their significance to me. We all form our own interpretations, but really knowing the intentions and backstories when offered, is profound to me.
- Do you feel that your music has given you back just as much as you have put into it over time, or were you expecting something more, or different?
Kingsley Ray: My music gives definitely gives back- its therapy, it’s an anthology, it’s roadmap to another side of me, it connects me to others – as well as them to me.
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
Kingsley Ray: I try to pay absolutely no mind to negative people or any negative energies. That fear was my saboteur. I advocate that time flies, and the best way to spend it is to love and support each other. If you can’t, simply keep walking and slow no one else down. We all are in this life together and should all freely experience happiness.
- Could you tell us something about your latest project and what the highlights are to watch out for?
Kingsley Ray: My forthcoming album is entitled “For Love”. Highlights are every song on it. The song have been cohesively chosen over time of making great music and enjoying the process organically.
- Do you have a personal favorite track amongst those in your catalog that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?
Kingsley Ray: I honestly have too many favorites and I cannot wait to share backstories. One song that’s specifically aimed at a message deals with bullying and self confidence. It’s to inspire and motivate anyone to embrace your greatness despite of anything else.
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most?
Kingsley Ray: I enjoy the creative process the most. I look forward to writing and working with more artists and having amazing collaborations. Performing is a super rush that just gets better and more refined each time. It’s all about enjoying the experience.
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Kingsley Ray: “Be you and just do it” Period.
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your persona and craft?
Kingsley Ray: For me, I had to have the usual along with the first single. I shot “Replay” before the song was released and it is out now. It completes the package for me.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Kingsley Ray: The most rewarding part of being an artist is having a platform that could make an impression or have impact on our audience. If we have touched, inspired even one person, its awesomeness.