Stephen Ray is a Nashville based country singin’ songwriter & artist who was raised in both the arctic cold of Wisconsin and Michigan & the warm beaches of California. Stephen has opened for acts such as Toby Keith, Parmalee, and Chris Janson. His music is available on all streaming platforms.
Hi Stephen, can you tell us all about yourself before you became a country musician?
Hi there! Yes! I started writing country music around 2010, and began taking it more seriously around 2016 when I decided to record and release music as “Stephen Ray” for the first time. Prior to that, I was working and living in San Diego, CA. I also performed in a rock band with my brother for many years! Music has always a been a big part of my life.
What made you want a career in country music?
I was always a fan of country music and for as long as I remember (well, about 7th grade when I started playing guitar) I was in bands with my brother and friends growing up, but we played more punk and pop rock. But I remember in high school burning CD’s with Dierks Bentley and Tim McGraw, who are two of my favorite artists, and constantly making mixed CD’s with multiple genres. My CD’s would go from New Found Glory to Shania Twain to Pure Moods to Gym Class Heroes to Enya and back to New Found Glory. HA. But by the time I was in college, and right after college I was listening and going to a lot more country concerts in San Diego, Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, etc. After taking some time off from my rock band days, I eventually started to write and record more pop country style music and songs.
What is the background story behind your latest single “Bud Light Sign?”
I wrote Bud Light Sign with my three good friends, Ryan Sorestad, Brit Knott and Taylor Nash. (Yes, we live in Nashville and his real last name is Nash.) The day we wrote, they had been at a Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant having lunch and waiting for Guitar Center next door to open. Ryan was sitting there and saw two Bud Light signs above the bar when the idea hit him to write something about being “brighter than a Bud Light sign”. We met later that day to write and this song started to come to life when we thought of eyes being bluer than the Bud Light sign! The rest was history!
Who are some of your musical icons?
Enya, Tom Petty, Relient K, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Dierks Bentley. All for different reasons. The way they make me feel, the time period they represent from my life when I listened to them most, their musical style, how they are/were as human beings and the sonic and lyrical styles behind them all I believe all play a major part in my own sound.
How would you describe your music in 3 to 5 words?
Fun, catchy and authentic.
What are a few of your favorite venues to play at?
I played a few shows at House of Blues San Diego that were amazing! I got to open up for Parmalee once at HOB and also Logan Mize.I also opened up for Chris Janson at The Novo in Los Angeles, that was a blast. Tin Roofs are always fun here in Nashville and I always enjoy playing writers rounds at Live Oak, and it was a blast playing Whiskey Jam!
What is your recording process like when creating and making new music?
My last few singles I’ve recorded with Grady Saxman at his studios in Mt. Juliet, TN. It usually takes a few days and involves a night of pre-production where we work through the song acoustically to make sure we have the structure of the song completed and charted out. The next day we’ll bring in the session players to come in and track the song as a band. That is always my favorite part of the process to simply watch and be amazed by the talent in the room. We’re talking some of the best musicians in the world here in Nashville and I am very grateful for that. Then I’ll track the vocals, send the song out for mixing and mastering and there you go! You’ve heard the saying “it takes a village” and Nashville country music is no exception to that.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
How do you like the food here at Camp Hope?
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thanks for having me! My social channels are all @STEPHENRAYMUSIC on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. Go follow!