At just the age of 21, North Carolina native, Ray Volpe, is a force to be reckoned with in the bass music community. Supported by some of the biggest names in dance music like Diplo, DJ Snake and Marshmello, Volpe gets clubs moving to the beat of his own drum, in a very big way. When it comes to music production, Ray is the epitome of the word “professional”. With a myriad of original releases that he creates from scratch, as well as official remixes from Kill the Noise, Jauz, Marshmello and Getter, it’s not hard to see why he is selling out shows left and right and consistently a crowd favorite at festivals.
Ray sat down to talk with us before playing a packed house at Atlanta’s own Opera nightclub, see what he had to say below:
Ray, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. I guess we will go ahead and just jump right into it. I know you actually just put out a brand new song last Friday and remixed Ookay’s “In My Mind”. Listening to it, it stays true to the roots of his rendition, but you put your own signature spin on it. I’m just curious what it was it that made you want to remix that song in particular?
Ray Volpe: So if I recall correctly, because I could be making this up for all I know in my head… or “In my mind.” He sent me a folder of a couple of songs with stems and asked, “Which one do you want?” And “In My Mind” really stuck out to me. I really liked his vocals in it, and it was the catchiest one to me because it’s just so repetitive and formatted.
A lot of different artists tour for their own reason. I’ve heard recently there was a really important one to you. What exactly was that?
Ray Volpe: In 2011 my dad had to get a sudden open heart surgery to replace a heart valve that essentially just died out . And with that surgery, it should have lasted him 10 to 15 years, but unfortunately it failed. My parents both work full time jobs; but when health insurance in America is a little shitty, it makes things a little harder to work with. I was just fortunate enough that I’m in a spot where I can go on tour and make a good amount of money to help my dad out. I dropped out of high school and he didn’t kill me. He kept a roof over my head, and they didn’t have to do that. They didn’t have to support anything I’ve done and they have; and it’s the absolute least I could do to help them out. So when we found out that he had needed a second surgery because the valve failed again, it was obvious that I was going to do something, so that definitely became the focal point of our tour.
And, as you said earlier, he’s doing well now?
Ray Volpe: He’s in great condition now. He made a full recovery. He’s chillin’. He’s cool. I’m really hyped about the entire turn of events and just happy I could lend a hand.
So I’m a big fan of your “Banger Zone” mix, which is your yearly radio series. What plans do you have coming up for the future when it comes to that?
Ray Volpe: I want to get more unreleased stuff. I want to get to a point where it’s all completely unreleased material. I think that’s the thing that a lot people are doing. It’s the move but I still do like putting in released stuff that’s considered new or fresh, but still released. I want to get more unknown producers in there. I don’t want to focus on bringing out bangers from your big names or A-list guys. I really want to shine light on the people that are up and coming. I mean, I would consider myself an up and coming artist, but there’s people that are super talented that deserve recognition that they’re not getting.
I know you’ve been producing since you were 12 years old, so I guess music has always kind of been second nature to you. What would you say is single handedly the most important tool that you’ve applied to your production that you’ve found success with?
Ray Volpe: I like to be as transparent as possible, and I like to be as interactive with my fan-base as I can. I use as much emotion in my music as possible, which is funny, because I did the “No Emotion Allowed” EP; but I think just being real and being raw is very important. I think a lot of people put this sort of a barrier between themselves and their fans. They make themselves seem unobtainable, and it’s not a good feeling if you can’t even get a “like” or a “tweet” if you reach out online to someone you idolize or look up to. It’s really important to remember that you are where you are because of these people.
I read before that your manager, Klint, helps kind of push you outside of your comfort zone. Looking back on previous interviews, you said that all your life you’ve struggled with anxiety, which is applicable for a lot of us. So give me a prime example from this year that Clint has done that has helped alleviate your anxiety.
Ray Volpe: I would say him just pushing me to release everything under one alias. I used to have this side project where I put out some house stuff. When I was doing the “All Emotion Allowed” EP it was pop stuff, whether or not that was received well or not, he’s the one that pushed me to put that out. He wanted people to hear it and he thought was incredible. So he just pushed me to really make what I want and kind of just throw it all out there under my name so I don’t have to, you know, split things up.
Not a lot of people know you are straight edge in terms of sobriety. What’s it like working in an industry where most of the people that you come in contact with on a nightly basis are inebriated, but you’re totally sober?
Ray Volpe: It’s not really frustrating unless the person is being weirdly annoying with you. Nine out of every ten times, most time people are fine. No one’s ever pressuring me to do anything, which is great. Sometimes someone’s like maybe annoying at the time, not because they’re pressuring me, but like they don’t understand what they’re even saying. They’re slurring their words and they’re just kind of repeating themselves a lot; and I just sit there like, “Yeah…yeah…yeah… okay”. And on top of that, in my inner circle no one really gets fucked up. Yeah, they smoke weed a little bit or they’ll drink sometimes; but for the most part everyone just sticks to their Juul. (laughs) JUUL GANG!
What do you have your sights set on and what you have planned for 2019.
Ray Volpe: I have a lot going on. I have at least 2 EPs planned, though I don’t want to do an album yet. I think it’s too early and I really want to do something special for an album when the timing is right. Moving forward, I have these EPs planned with some labels, which has definitely a goal because I’ve been an independent artist this entire time, but I want to expand outside of that a tiny bit. And, of course, I would say more music with me singing on it. That’s for sure. I always loved doing that and I haven’t done it in a minute.
So a lot of artists are coming up with their own labels, is that something that you might be interested in doing in the near future?
Ray Volpe: I don’t know if I want to start a label. I definitely want to help push up and coming artists and people that deserve recognition, but we might be able to find another way to do it because I think if everyone’s doing the same thing, you want to do something different. (High Fives) Let the record show that we had to do two different high fives because the first one was bad.