Mike Ray talks new single Juice, Coventry music scene, his ‘Ray Sessions’ series & more!

In Hip Hop, Interviews, Other by Nick Russell

Blatantly Blunt: There’s a really fresh flavour to Juice – did you set out to create something that didn’t sound like anything else, or was it a natural process?

Terrier most definitely a natural process, I feel like the three of us have good chemistry, so when it comes to making music we just go with the flow and make it happen.

Lecs It was a natural process, when Mike showed me the beat, I instantly had the idea for the hook. As soon as we went into the studio I had the same lyrics and made a mistake on the second half and Mike said “no keep that that!”

BB Where are you looking to go with your music off the back of Juice?

Mike The three of us have been laying down a few more tracks, and judging by the response we got from Juice already, we know people are going to rock with them. You may even see a video for juice soon!

BB There’s a really fresh flavour to your music, and ‘Juice’ in particular – did you set out to create something that didn’t sound like anything else, or was it a natural process?

Mike Thank you, the way I create my music is through experiencing and catching vibes. Juice came about from just vibing to a beat I’ve leased from a producer I often work with. Me and Lecs were travelling up to Liverpool one time and we put on this beat and started freestyling and eventually we came up with “Pull up, scoop yeah I got the juice” part and started repeating it and we’re like damn, this sounds good – we need to get that recorded. I got a verse down, Lecs got the hook and we were like “damn this sounds great!”.

We played the snippet at my birthday party last year to close friends and family and everyone started jumping like in a frenzy or something. That’s when IamTerrier was like “yo I need to jump on this” and I was like cool, let’s make it happen. That’s when I realized I need to invest time and effort and market this properly because of the effect it had on people. So I guess it was a natural process, because all we wanted for it is to sound good and as long as we like it we don’t care what people think. This is kind of ironic as it reminds me of how one of our older most known sounds ‘BOUNCE’ came about. Literally after a night out when we woke up in my student accommodation back in Birmingham, we put on a beat and started wilding out to it and eventually came out with ‘TELL HER TO BOUNCE” part which ended up being a very powerful hook and got us many performances, radio features, interviews, BBC introducing plays etc.

It is safe to say I am about capturing real energy and putting it into a song.

You, Lecs and IamTerrier are all from Coventry – what’s the scene like there?

Mike Ray: Yeah, Coventry, the city of culture 2021. Unlike London and Birmingham, there are very little opportunities for young artists to get their music heard. There are almost no urban music events in the city, no club nights looking for artists to perform and especially no local acts, no major social media platforms that push their music either – nothing. The only local radio station that gives young artists time of day is Hillz FM but even their reach is very small. Things are that bad that even the Godiva festival stopped booking urban acts because of ‘trouble’ and ‘violence.’ Most of all, however, venues aren’t interested to host such events because of trouble in the past at such events and its a shame because there is a major talent in the city. Apart from Lecs Blvck and IamTerrier who I closely worked with for years, there are many other talented artists in or from the city including Skatta, Shadow CV6, Subzero, Jevon, Pa Saliue and Jay 1, amongst others.

The only positive movement within the city (which I’ve noticed and taken part in) is the Hillz FM local charts, where DJ Paul Sanders hosts the weekly charts radio show. In essence, he gets local acts of all genres to send their music and he creates polls on Facebook where acts compete with each other to get votes to hit number one. It’s great as other people find out about other acts, which shows how diverse the scene in the city is.

BB: You’ve mentioned Ray Sessions, a media platform for live music performances – what inspired you to do that?

There is a gap in the market, with young artists who aren’t catered for within the city/region. There are opportunities/events in Birmingham and platforms for young artists, but compared to London they’re really small scale which is surprising, considering Birmingham has several major urban acts like Mist, Jaykae, Lotto Boyz, Lady Leshurr etc. The truth is they all went to London to get paid because there weren’t enough opportunities in the local area.

Major artists who broke through to the industry can afford to go live in London and then get bookings from there, however small, underground artists can’t. So I see my platform catering for just that. The inspiration came from YouTube channel ‘Colors‘ and Kenny Allstar’s ‘Mad About Bars’ playlist, where artists perform their song as it’s all about the aesthetics of the surroundings, the quality of the audio and the the angles which are used in the footage.

Although there are live freestyles recorded and posted on local platforms like P110 and JDZ Media, I realized that the audio lacks the studio quality as its only recorded with a camera mic usually and not condenser mic. Therefore I realized that it’s my opportunity to fill that spot. The high-quality audio with an aesthetically pleasing studio recording space. We then thought as a group what we can do to add a unique touch to the platform. We came up with making the second part of the session which is designed to challenge the artist on a beat freshly produced by the in-house producer Fazman. I’ve got my other close friend Shawn aka Ace Visuals on camera, my friends Alex on design and Mark on engineering.

I am happy to have my close friends involved because I know they are driven just like me and also very talented within their fields of expertise, that’s why I know we can pull this off. From a simple thought in my head, this began turning into reality really quickly and I am incredibly proud of that. You can check out @raysessionsuk across all social media. We already hosted the pilot episode, and are already organizing further recording with more artists. The first ‘Ray Sessions’ will be released shortly on my YouTube channel so look out for that.

mike ray

BB Are you threatened by the competition from major platforms like GRM Daily, Link UP TV, Mixtape Madness and Colors?

Because they are London based they don’t cause direct threat. The Colors show is based in Berlin so it doesn’t also cause a threat either. GRM Daily, recently came back with their ‘Daily Duppy’ and it’s similar to my idea however it’s only a performance of the artists’ song. On top of that, Link Up TV, have ‘Behind Bars’ and Mixtape Madness ‘Mad About Bars.’ However all of those platforms are in London and only mainly accept established artists, whereas my platform works more as a raw talent scout, as I am allowing real talented names who are unknown, unleash some of their talent. My aim is to scout ‘diamonds in the rough’ and then shape them, encourage them and pave a way for them to reach their potential.

BB. You’ve achieved a lot already and you’re still at uni – what does the future hold for you?

Thank you, I appreciate that, however, I’ve achieved nothing yet, I have only set out the blueprint of what I wanna do in the future which is to prosper along with my family and friends. I have projects/businesses which I want to launch and put into action in the future. I’m focused on my music and the Ray Sessions platform. I am looking to make my music grow and to further develop my platform and monetize from it in the near future.

Follow the artists via Instagram @mikeraymusic / @lecsblvck / @iamterrier