Post Image
InterviewsTour Interview

Interview with Dhalia Ray

(STM) Tell us about your new single Bonfire?

(DR) It was a song I wrote about my mum’s best friend who passed away after a long journey with Cystic Fibrosis. Jan was the oldest survivor in Australian history and lived till 65 years of age.

What’s the creative process like for you?

It changes all the time. Sometimes it’s poetry first, sometimes melody, sometimes chords or sometimes rhythm. I hear rhythms in my head that I write melodies to before I’m able to translate them onto some device or instrument. This can be good and really frustrating. It always changes.

If you could change something about the music industry what would change?

The opportunity for women to gain exposure – I’ve learnt it’s not that easy for us after all. Lol. It’s not to say that men don’t face challenges because I know they absolutely would, but for me I can only speak from the perspective of a woman in the industry that has struggled to be heard by the right people. Especially in pop music.

What do you think life would be like for you if you didn’t have music/visual art as an outlet?

I can’t imagine. Pretty miserable to be honest. I feel grateful every day that I’m able to do it. No matter what I’m going through, as soon as I sing it’s like ecstasy, but better. It really is that good.

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with? 

Vance Joy, Flume, or Powderfinger because I really think it’d be something different. 

I love Vance Joy’s storytelling and melodies, and I think our voices are so different that they’d somehow complement each other. He has a warm tone that makes you feel light and fuzzy. Our registers are so different, but he has a fast vibrato like me. I just am so intrigued to see how they’d sound in harmony. Could sound shit, but I’d love to know.  Flume because I love his song “Never Be Like You”. I think he could bring my dream to life of having a great dance song. I think we’d do something completely unique. He makes THE BEST beats. I sincerely love everything he does.  Powderfinger are incredible performers and all-rounders, and to be honest I’d love to learn from them, I think they’d get something different out of me. I’d explore rock a bit more with that kind of guidance and experience. I imagine Bernard Fanning has some interesting vocal techniques that might bring something new out of my own voice. All these artists are incredible, and I’d learn a lot from all of them. I think when artists collaborate, it’s like fireworks going off because they both bring their lightning and it’s explosive just like fireworks. All these artists have lightning that I would love to get close to and get struck by.

What’s your advice to young people who want to make a career for themselves in the industry? 

Work hard. You can never lose; you can only learn. I came out to study music when I was 18, and never expected to end up here. I tried to obviously, but it was more about one door opening the other and it sort of became an adventure. I think that’s how the journey should be treated, like an adventure not to be taken too seriously, but seriously enough that you stay focussed enough to finish the product, and to fail a few times. It’s a must-it’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t. I’ve seen so many artists with so much talent just get distracted and not see things through coz they get caught up in the fun. Play in as many venues as possible, you’ll grow each time you do, and you’ll appreciate the wins so much more when they come. I played at a place once where the sound guy was the bar guy, and he had no idea what he was doing, and there were only two people there who were my friends. I was so embarrassed that I just had to laugh coz half my performance couldn’t be heard while the sound guy was learning the ropes. It should’ve been a soundcheck. Lol. These gigs make you appreciate the good ones when you get them. When I got to play Cargo London, I enjoyed it so much more because I always remember that time the sound guy experimented with the nobs throughout my performance haha. Have as much fun as possible, but never do things that make you feel uncomfortable. If it feels wrong, then it is. There’s a lot of snakes in this industry, and that can be intimidating especially for a girl. It can make you feel like if you burn bridges you’ll be screwed in the next opportunity. It’s not true. I’ve walked away from a few disasters and glad I did. It’s taking longer but at least I have my self respect which is related to confidence. Confidence is what you need the MOST. The most important thing is to focus on the product and everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING else will work out. Keep knocking on doors. One will open eventually if they can see your dedication to your craft and your ability to see things through. Dreams DO come true I promise.

What’s your favourite song to perform?

Now it’s “Bonfire”.:) I used to love covering “These Days” by Powderfinger and then someone did it and released it, but I swear I’d been doing it for decades before haha. I like covering songs from different unique voices to my own because it makes it extra unique. I like covering “Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons, and “For Emma” by Bon Iver, “Fix you” by Coldplay – LOVE covering that one. Stuff like that. I enjoy writing my own songs a lot more than I do enjoy covering other artists, though I do enjoy covering artists too. After being in a cocoon writing for so long, it’s been so so incredible for me to bring “Bonfire” out into the world with a video which I’m so grateful to “Sheisaphrodite” for making,  and to hear and see the response it’s been getting. Just wow. BBC1 RADIO UK Charts- Top 40 playlist picked it up on day 3, and Tropical FM UK CHARTS RADIO HITS TOP 40 picked it up on their playlist as well, and I just started crying I was so happy. I AM so happy about it. Lots of playlists have picked it up, but those two made me cry because I sung so much in London venues as well, that it felt like an even BIGGER win. I remember moments of feeling like “Am I good enough? What the hell am I doing?” so to get that kind of validation for me has been special. It’s at 9, 000 streams in three weeks I can’t comprehend it. It’s made me excited to perform again one day. I’ll have an original people will KNOW! So exciting honestly, and humbling.

Got any secret hobbies that we might be surprised by?

Chess and cooking. Very boring really. I started playing chess when I was four years old, and I literally will play with anyone who’s willing. I mean ANYONE. Now I play online a lot with randoms, usually after work or a big day. I like cooking all kinds of stuff. I’m lactose intolerant so anything healthy and without dairy. Always adjusting recipes and experimenting to see how they work out, which can be expensive when it doesn’t turn out. Lol. Just like making music. Yesterday I made vegan chocolate mousse, and vegan Moussaka, which is probably my signature dish. My sisters always ask me to make that for them. 

Read More