Episode 02 Transcript: Raymond Deandre Martin AKA Rey Reel
Raymond Deandre Martin AKA Rey Reel & Danny Carissimi From The Sugar High Podcast
Danny: So Ray, where are we right now?
Ray: We are in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Or you can call it Burbank; we’re in between the two.
Danny: But we're in your studio right now.
Ray: Yeah yeah.
Danny: And this is just your studio.
Ray: Actually temporarily my studio, I'm not going to lie. Temporarily because I just moved out of one and I needed one like pronto and I wasn't going to use one of the bigger ones because their budget was too high for me. So this is temporarily mine. And then take the first month -- the first week of January, I’m going to look for like one for the next two or three years that I can build upon.
Danny: Did you actually build your studios out?
Ray: The last one, I built that studio. That one, it was super dope, because I had built wall, like the walls were padded with like what is that? I can't even think of it think of the fabric. It was really soft, it was like gray and black. I had neon lights through the whole thing with a changed color I had a disc a disco ball at the top. I had three TVs that were in sync with each other, and I had a TV in the booth so you can see out of what we're doing that kind of split, and it connected to the Wi-Fi. So, what it did is, like, if you had a Samsung phone or iPhone, you can throw your notes onto the screen so you don't have to keep looking at your phone, and you can see the notes and then you can see regular TV and then on the top of that one you can see the camera that's pointing to us. So, then on the outside door I also had a camera to see who was out there before I can let them in, so I just look at my phone just right there.
Danny: It was like that room that the guy the guy that like runs The Matrix has you know he's got all the TV screens around.
Ray: OK. Mix that with Mr. Freeze’s on Batman. That's the color of it, when you would light it up, that would be the whole color of it. So, mix that with Mr. Freeze’s control room.
Danny: Rock studios need to start doing this sort of stuff, because I feel like when people deko like indie rock studio, it's just like a bean bag and like a lava lamp or something.
Ray: Right, the aesthetic is the lava lamp. Like, “Get a green one! Don't get a blue one, get a green one! It kind of like it's my energy a little bit better. It hits my vibe!” Pretty much.
Danny: So we were talking at a show and you were saying you don't really like it that much. You know I'm a big fan. No what don't you like. And by the way I just I just moved here so I'm not like L.A.
Ray: I'm not a fan of like party life. I did that for the first three months that I moved out here. I moved out here about four years ago, and that was crazy. I kind of got caught up in it, and then I seen what it did to like, you know, people around me, and I didn't like it too much. And it's not necessarily the people or whatever it is. Honestly, just the lifestyle how it is, it can be kind of cool. I'm not -- I'm not going to say fake because if you say -- everything is, you know, considered fake when something doesn't go your way, or whatever. But it was this -- people weren't so nice; the politics, and shit.
Danny: Well, it's interesting because I always feel like there's multiple layers, and I wanted to talk about kind of like, the beat-making world, I feel like that's your world. I remember my first boss in music: he was a lawyer and he'd always talk about it, like, man like, “That's a really intense world,” like the world of beat making is like, hypercompetitive. Is it like, do you think that that might contribute to it? Like, that's the kind of scene you were in?
Ray: Yeah, because no one's going to let you get ahead of them, unless they honestly and genuinely like, respect you, and like you, and really are rooting for you and aren't so full of themselves to know that you guys can both come up. Other than that, yes it is competitive, the whole way there.
Danny: How would you define what you do? So, if you're like, at a dinner party or your girlfriend's house and her dad says, “Ray what do you do?” Like, what do you say?
Ray: I mean, I say “production.” I mean, it's all the same to me, beat-making and production, just depends on how far you go with it. I look at production as like, full writing, you know, taking control, doing you know, real “production” like, getting the whole creative process out on something like, you know, as a director would, you know? And beat-making is something -- for me is is more fun. It's just like playing with sound from there, you know what I'm saying? It's like, “Oh I can make beats and send it to a writer or a singer. Let them do their thing, or a rapper, and let them do their own thing.” But production and beat-making are different, but the same at the same time.
Danny: Yeah. I know you're like, you're really ambitious, and you want to do a lot of things. Like, you want to score films at some point, right?
Ray: I do like that.
Danny: Do you view beat-making and production as just kind of like, a route to getting to these other places? Or is it something you’d always like to do?
Ray: No, because production is what I really, really, really want to do. But it’d be nice to get my foot in the door to do other things other than just production. Like, I do want to do this movie scoring, because I listen to a lot of soundtracks and the soundtracks are like, super dope, and I get what they're doing when it goes to like the visuals in the movies and even watching them like, sit in the studios and watching something and creating around there. And it can be small jingles. You know, what I'm saying like, even those are super dope, as long as they don't cornball them out. But yeah, I like doing it. I like doing it all. I really want to do, you know like, commercials and stuff. I really want to make an anthem like, how you have the Star-Spangled Banner or like, just something that everyone knows. Or like, a graduation song that everyone knows, which is super hard to like, replace, but to at least get it somewhere in that range.
Danny: You want your ba-da-ba-ba-ba.
Ray: Hey, I’ll take it. I'd take that any day.
Danny: What is your favorite film score, or do you have any favorite that you're really into?
Ray: OK. OK. I like Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and Sweeney Todd.
Danny: Man it's really funny just because like, you listen to all of your beats, and some of them are like, you know, like, they're pretty hard, they can be pretty hard and to be like, “Yeah, I like Sweeney Todd.” That's what I'm into. Because I was asking Dan – to give you some context, I toured with The Griswolds, Ray’s worked with The Griswolds, and Dan’s in The Griswolds – and I was like, I was like, “What does Ray listen to?” And he was like, “He doesn't even really listen to rap.” Is that true?
Ray: Yeah I don't. I don't listen to anything that I'm like, making myself really. I make something and I'll leave it there. And if you like it, you like it, but I won't go back to it unless it needs to be worked on. And as far as my own like music to listen to, I like movie score soundtracks. So like one of my favorite was the Can't Hardly Wait, and like, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Cruel Intentions; and I even like other bands like Sneaker Pimps from back in the day. Not their current ones now, but I don't know how to say it. I think it's like…Bickrunga?
Danny: I'm not — I have no idea.
Ray: It was one song she had…do, do, do…I forgot what it’s called. But anyways, The Cranberries, Scissor Sisters. Oh what’s that movie with the car – the car driver, and he's like, crazy, and he was killing all these people with his car, taking them for rides.
Danny: It was like a horror movie?
Ray: Not horror. Like, kind of a horror movie, not a horror movie kind of like a suspenseful movie.
Danny: Driving Miss Daisy.
Ray: No no no no no. It was like death or something.
Danny: Oh Death Proof. It’s a Quentin Tarrantino movie where he did like, there's – there's Death Proof and then the other one, with Robert Rodriguez. It's like kind of shorter, and it's the dude driving, and there’s like, the girls…
Ray: Yeah, that one! That soundtrack is really hard. Well, there's a couple of songs on there throughout the movie that I like, and that's what gets me into like listening to them, is like, when you watch the visual and you’re like, “Oh shit, what is this song playing?” And then you like – I'll go Shazam it real fast, if I don't know it.
Danny: I want to see right now, I think a soundtrack you get into is Dances with Wolves.
Ray: I keep hearing about.
Danny: It's a very it's a very moving soundtrack. It's really, really good. I listen to it frequently. There's a song called “The Ride to Fort Sedgewick” that's when he's going out to meet the Native Americans. It's a great song for sure. It seems like everybody either wants to make beats or they can like fiddle on their phone. How do you like, break through the noise?
Ray: I mean, I can't really talk about that part, because it's like, I'm still making a name for myself. And that's exactly like, what I'm trying to do on my up-rise right now is, you know – I sat behind you know, producers, ghost producers which were great opportunities because they put me in better places. But then I didn't know who I was. I'm saying like, anybody can be like, you say anybody can make beats now. It's accessible, but it's like, what set you different? And that's what I'm struggling with now is trying to find out what my sound exactly is because what sound I thought was mine, wasn't mine. It was “our” sound that came from myself and different various producers coming together.
Danny: I was thinking about that like…So you get, I guess, contracted by a lot of people who will say like, “Hey, we want Ray to make us a beat.” And you just go, “Well I'll make whatever beat I want to,” And they go, “We want the beat to sound like this.”
Ray: That happens majority of the time. And then when it goes to that, I miss out on a lot of plays because of that, because I won’t settle for making the…I don't even want to call it “regular,” because I don't want to diss anyone's music. But when, you know, obviously when there's a tune coming out and a trend, everyone starts following that trend. I don't want to do that. I want to go against the grain. And, the same thing Pharrell did, you know everybody's doing x, y, z, and he came out with “Happy” and “Get Lucky” and then all this other stuff and, you know…
Danny: You have integrity.
Ray: Pretty much, but they’ll get mad though.
Danny: They go, “This not what we asked for”?
Ray: No it's not – they're like, OK, well, they finally say, “Do what we want, but make it yours.” Well there's no way to make it mine if it's already done, you know? So at least that's what I feel. Or like I'll try, and I’ll be like, I keep hearing repetition of someone else's stuff.
Danny: So a record executive is like, “Ray we want this cool trap beat sounding thing” and then you come back with them with like the Harry Potter soundtrack.
Ray: No I'll make it. I'll make a trap beat, but I'll make it with my sounds. Like the sounds – that quirky weird stuff that I do hear from the soundtracks is that they're not used to but when they're used to hearing you know single melody or something like that, and then you put that and mix that with chords and quirky drums in different things, and they're like, “I don't know if this’ll work,” because they're used to the boom clap boom clap boom boom. You know, 1, 2, 1, 2. So if you give me one two three or four, and hit them with a combo and they're like, wait.
Danny: I mean it's – if they come to you, and then you know, they don't like the beat you've made for them, are you kind of like, “Well, that's the beat you get”?
Ray: No. I mean, I'll keep working with them because like, I do want to be a good producer. I don't just sit there and say, “My work is my work,” you know, I accommodate, of course. And if this is something –if I believe in you and you're believing in me to get this done, then you know, I'm not going to sacrifice my sound or whatever. But I will work around what you need and if that's what it takes for me to get my name and then pull a switcheroo, then so be it for now. I like, I don't have pride to hold on to, like that. Except, only one time, and I refuse to mimic any type of beat that is out there. That’s when artists draw the line like, hell no. When they're like, “Make a [DJ] Mustard beat.” No. Because you have Mustard, and he's doing a good job, so go get Mustard.
Danny: Oh you mean, it's not even like, a different style, you mean like, they tell you like, “We want you to make a beat that sounds like a different producer.”
Ray: Oh yeah, because yeah, because maybe they won't have the budget for it. So then they'll be like, “Do this type of beat.” Nope. If you want that, you’d better wait, and just holler at them.
Danny: Spend more money.
Ray: Figure it out. I ain't doing it.
Danny: To me, I find interesting about like, stuff that involves like, synthetic sounds – that you know, like, there's a shelf life on it. You know like, if you listen, it lights up with synthesizers from the 80s, you know, like, it can sound dated. Do you take that into consideration?
Ray: No, I just use whatever I like. A lot of people told me that some of my sounds are dated or whatever, but my drums aren't. My drums are always what like, sets the mood and the tones of a lot of records that I do, because they're like I said, off, quirky, but to make them mainstream is the hardest part for me because again I said, you know, the 1, 2 is what they're used to. So, but as far as picking synthesizers or organic sounds, I like to use them all. I like to mix them. I mean, if I can do analog I definitely would love to do that, you know, for certain reverbs and that kind of thing because I feel like it gives a certain aesthetic and acoustics over it. Tours like damn I can't get this anywhere else. Or how did you get there. And when you use, you know, software, it kind of takes that spark out of it.
Danny: I read an interview with Skrillex where he was like, “You sing about how when he's making a beat or whatever that getting the right sound is, like, what takes him. That's what takes up the majority of the time and I was wondering if it's like that for you, or are you going to start making the beat and find the right sound later?
Ray: No I would have to agree with that. It's like, I go through so many sounds, like, I might find a cool melody, and maybe I might start with a loop, and the loop might have really good solid some drums to it, just to get me in rhythm. I might take that loop out, and keep the drums in and start going through sounds from there. But like, I like making music how I feel it. I don't really like to dissect it and be like, “Oh I'm going to use a string here, I'm going to use a pad here. I'm going to use synth here, a lead here, blah, blah, blah.” I just want to go through stuff as soon as I hear something, and be like, “Ooh.” Or I might hear it, and it might sound good now and then – I'm not going to say it won't sound good later, but I'll put it later on in the song. That way, it's kind of like, it kind of stands out. It's like ear candy. It’s like, “Ooh yeah.” You'd bring that more back in, but I don't want that.
Danny: Right, right, right. Well, where did you start? Where are you from?
Ray: Born in Sacramento, raised in the I.E., in the Empire – for those who don't know, Colton area. So I moved like, I moved around a lot actually, but I would say that's like my life. Finally after like, six or seven moves like, that's where my mom ended up. And then I moved to L.A. about four or five years ago, coming up five years actually.
Danny: So you just lived with your mom pretty much growing up. Did she work in music?
Ray: No. Actually my family doesn't do music at all. No one in my family does music. My sister, who passed, she listened to a lot of music, but I couldn’t listen to what she was listening to because she was 13 years older than me. You know, my mom wasn't having it. Right. And so then, you know, I got older, and started being around her, but I was already doing music at that time, to where I just like, I just liked sound, like that was my thing just to just to play with and I got a computer from my homeboy literally and he was like, “Oh have you ever heard of this program Hip Hop E.J.?” and I was like, “What the hell is that?” and I played with it, made beats on it, then he came back like a couple of weeks later like, “Oh dude, I just downloaded on iMash, this program called FL Studio.” Played with it, and from there, that's where I started making beats. But I didn't know what I was doing. As far as like, getting into music, I just thought I was making beats because it was fun, and it was like playing basketball.
Danny: Right. Was this in high school?
Ray: This was like, middle school. I had to be in like, seventh or eighth grade.
Danny: So were you kind of like, a nerdy computer kid?
Ray: No it was more it was more just like – like, I wanted to play basketball, but basketball seemed like super out of my reach. Not to say I'm one to give up, but at the time it was. I didn't have the – I didn't have the super drive for it that I thought I did, you know, with the conditioning. And I was going to like Jordan camps, and so on and so forth, with different ball players and stuff. And then I just – and I'm a homebody I'm a hermit, so I was just like, I was in there. It's either video games, basketball, or hanging with your friends, or computers. And I didn't really hang with too many people, so I never had a computer before, so then when I got it was like, whatever. It was an old little Macintosh too.
Danny: Wow. So in high school, did you keep making beats? Is that how you kind of spent your time?
Ray: Yeah, yeah, in high school, that’s when it like – that's when everything kind of like, boomed. That's what I was working with Audio Push, formally known as “The Push.” And we did “Teach Me How to Jerk.” And that's what MySpace music was like, booming. And then when it was booming, like, I would look on my MySpace and on our group page, it had like 2000 views, 5000 views, and it was like, “OK, whatever.” And then one day we looked, because we hadn't been on it, and it had like, I think five, six million views? And the music, you know how you could set the music player on your page, like, we would go to people's pages and they would like, have it on there like that.
And this was in like two or three months, and that was like when the jerk movement had like happened and you know…
Danny: I actually – I don't know what the jerk is.
Ray: It’s like a dance. I didn't even know what it was; my homeboys just came like, “Yo, we got to make a song to this dance called the jerk,” and I was like, “OK cool.”
Danny: Is it like the Dougie?
Ray: It's almost like the Dougie. It was trendy like the Dougie, but it was more leg movement, more lower.
Danny: OK. So it was just – so pretty much, like, just like you and your friends in high school, just made this jerk song. And then that just kind of blew up online.
Ray: Yeah. And then New Boyz made “Your Jerk.” They actually had the upper hand on us, because they were actually working with labels and so on and so forth. And we weren't competing against them or anything like that, but it was like, super dope to all be, you know, in the movement and stuff. And Audio Pus, or “The Push” at the time, were getting looks, and I was the only producer and I didn't even know I was a producer. I just thought I was making beats. So that had happened, and then we linked up with a Hit Boy a few years before that, but he had moved to Atlanta. You know,Hit Boy who also done you know, “N.I.P” for Kanye and Jay-Z. He moved back, and when he moved back he was like, “Oh y'all should come hang out with me more, come work with me,” and so that's what we did. And that's how I got in to production, because he was teaching me what production really was, as opposed to just making beats.
Danny: He’s kind of a mentor.
Ray: Yeah, yeah. And then he would teach Audio Push, and how to really be an “artist,” and then Audio Push started to develop that themselves, you know, opposed to just making music and put it out there.
Danny: How old were you at this time when things started to kind of really take off?
Ray: I had to be like 15, 16. I was. I dropped out of high school. Yeah, I dropped out of high school and got a full time job. And then when I got a job, I was just like, making money. And I thought I was living good, ‘cause like, you know, I'd pay rent at my mom's crib, and still have like eight nine hundred dollars left over because I worked at the grocery store and get paid every Friday and the checks were good as hell. I was living life. Mind you, I had no car, nothing, like, I would not spend my money on cars, clothes or anything, so I'd be bummy and no one would know, or whatever. And I just I didn't care about things like that.
Danny: But did you drop out of school specifically to make beats?
Ray: No, it wasn't even like that. It was more like, one day my mom was like, “Oh, you know, I'm going to take you to school, be ready in five minutes.” I was like – this is literally what I was thinking – I told her, I said, “I'm not going to school today.” She looked at me she said, “I'm going to give you five minutes to redo that.” So she came back in and I said, “Yeah I don't think I'm going to go to school no more.” She's like, “Alright, you got two weeks to get a job, or you've got to go.” So I got a job the first week, and after that, start putting money towards like, computers and stuff. And then like, that's when I started taking it serious, because I was like, I was thinking to myself like, “What am I going to do?” Like, I don't – know what I'm saying? And at the time, or later on, I had a kid on the way. And then, I was like, “Well I don’t know what I'm going to do.” And then my older sister was like, “Oh, why don’t you be a producer?” I was like, “What’s a producer?” She's like, “You're already doing the music.” She was like, just like, you know, “make more music, be a rapper and stuff,” like, I don't rap, battle, sing. And so I was like, well, I'll just kick it with Audio Push, and we'll just do our thing. And so that's basically how everything happened. Like, we came up and came up and kept going ever since.
Danny: Wow. So I feel like your mom was like, “Ah, this is a phase, like, tomorrow he'll be back in school,” or nah?
Ray: She knew. No, my mom super cool. She treated me like, she treated me like a man should be treated. Just like, my dad was there, but he wasn't there. He lived in Atlanta, so she gave me the opportunities to treat myself like a man and make manly decisions.
Danny: So like, what were you saying to you before you started making beats? Like, did you listen to rap then, and stop liking it?
Ray: So, as I said before, I only got to listen to it, like rap, around my sister, and my sister was older, so I would go to her house, hang out with her. And she played me all this stuff that she liked, you know, Twista, Biggie, like, Little Kim, Brandy, like, she played like, music like James Brown like, all that kind of stuff. And I didn't know too far back into like, you know, the 70s and 80s. But I was like 90s, early 2000s and that's what she put me on. You know, things like that, she let me know what was hits and what was not hits. So that's kind of like where my ear comes in.
Danny: It's so funny how siblings play that role in like, musical development, because my mom would play like, Led Zeppelin and stuff around the house. But then I actually would sneak in my brother’s room and try to play drums. And I actually found Nirvana Nevermind on the ground. It was just sort of like, “What is this?” I had a pretty epic moment where I put it in the CD player and turned it on. It was just like “whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” And yeah, so, it's cool that your sister played that role and she was like this lady, the secret influencer, you know? So you're in high school, and you dropped out, and things kind of start to happen. Was there a moment where it kind of clicked with you, and you're like, “OK, I'm actually going to try really hard; I'm going to try make as a career.”
Ray: Not til like, my 20s, like after my girlfriend passed. After that, a year after that happened, then it was like, reality hit, and I was like, “OK, I need to get myself together, I need to find out what I want to do.” I was literally still doing music for fun, and it was it was fun because it was working out. I was getting paid for stuff that I just – I just thought I was having fun. And then it started to be a killjoy. The more I got, the more I pushed to get into it, is when I kind of like, wanted to give up. And then when I relaxed again, then it started. Then it's like, like, the now situation, things are starting to happen more easily.
Danny: It's so interesting you say that, because like, I’ve worked with a decent amount of bands on tour now, and like, the ones that have kind of started to make something happen, it seems like, it was sort of like, it came very naturally like, when they started to have some sort of success.
Ray: I was blessed to have a lot of people help me out. I had my cousin get an apartment with me, and let me live there rent free, and solely just work on music. That's all I had to do. He was like, “Don't pay rent, just clean up after yourself. You know, don't have wild company here, and do your music.” He was older than me. He was like 23, 24.
Danny: What a saint. A patron of the arts.
Ray: Not just only him, like, a lot of my family did that to me. It was like – it was kind of like being the golden child, but not with the, “don't fuck me over,” you know, at the end. It was like, no, I respected them and they respected what I was trying to do, and they actually wanted to see me succeed. And then when I did it wasn't like you owe me. They don't say shit, they’re just like, “Yo, I'm proud of you,” and like, “I'm happy to see what you're doing.” And they don't ask for anything.
Danny: Would you say that the Beyonce remix was was a pretty huge break for you?
Ray: I got the “Scream and Shout” remix first before that. I thought that was going to be…
Danny: And when you say you got that, is it kind of like, someone had heard your beats?
Ray: No, no, no. OK so, will.i.am came in the room, and Hit Boy was working on his project.
Danny: What room does will.i.am walk into? Just, some context.
Ray: OK, cool. So we were at Record Plant, and we were working on Hit Boy’s project. And will.i.am was in the next room. He has a room over.
Danny: And Hit Boy’s like, your crew.
Ray: No, no, no. Hit Boy is the producer. He was the producer, the one that did “Niggas in Paris” for Jay-Z and Kanye.
Danny: OK, so, you're just in there kind of like, helping out with him.
Ray: Yeah. Yeah we're just all working; me, Audio Push, Preach – no, I don't think Preach was there. It was a couple of people that were there.
Danny: So there's a bunch of super cool dudes in a room.
Ray: Yeah. We're just chilling. And this is like, I'm again, I'm super quiet, I’m chill. And so, will.i.am walked into the room and I'm like, sitting on the other side where the speakers are. I'm like, oh shit, that’s will.i.am, but I don't want to fan out. And so, he walks in, he's like, “Oh, what’s going on Hit,” talking to him, da, da, da, and he’s like, “Um, yo, I want to do this ‘Scream and Shout’ remix with Britney Spears, but I need a beat for it.” So he gives them the acapella, and Will leaves, and then when Will leaves, Hit’s like, “Yo, Ray,” he's like, “Come here.” I was like, “What's up?” He was like, “You want to do this remix for Will, because like, I'm working on my stuff, and I'll just go behind you and see what postproduction I can do on it. I’m like, alright, cool. So I go to the next room, I think with headphones on, and then I couldn't really hear, as I came back in the room, put the headphones on, right there next to him; I made a whole beat next to him. And then I was like, oh cool, I'm done. Played it for him. All he did was like, add some extra keys and make it a little bit more brighter and bigger and you know, help me with like, some edits and stuff. And I was literally done in like 30 minutes. 30 minutes and then he said, “Tell Will to come back in.” And so Will came back in, we played it for him, and he was crazy, he was like, “Yeah, I’m gonna get Wacka Flocka on, and get Diddy on this, I’mma get Wayne, I’mma get Brit back on it,” you know, all this other stuff. And I was like, “Alright, cool.” A few months went by, like two months went by. I was like “Damn, they probably won’t do nothing with that record.” But I was excited, you know. And then out of nowhere, he just dropped it, which was like, super cool. It was – we shot a video for the remix, but they never used the video. But then he dropped it. He dropped it. And I remember around the time, he had the “I am photo” social, like, camera thing, because I remember I wanted one really bad. He dropped that, and that was like, cool. So I got a little credit off of that. And then a couple of months later Hit Boy, Audio Push, 2 Chainz, and Wayne and everyone went on tour. I forget what the tour was called. But they went on tour, and he asked me to send him beats because he was going to meet up with Beyonce. So I was like, “Alright, cool.” Send him beats. At the time I was chilling at a friend's house. It was like 4:00 in the morning he texted me, “Hey was going on?” Like, “Nothing, chilling.” I was like, “It’s four in the morning.” He was like, “Beyonce just did a song, a song to your beat.” Cool. I was getting excited because it's like, you don't want to get your hopes up. So then he hits me back later. “Oh, it’s going on the album.” Alright, cool. Still just like, you're not excited about it. And then we went to go get it mixed and mastered, after we did that, they were like, “Yeah, we're excited to see if we put this on the album,” or something like that. So I was like, oh. So it's not on the album, they were just mixing it. So they were just cleaning it up, cleaning it up. So they cleaned it up, and literally two days after all it was like 8:00 o'clock at night or 9:00; something because she dropped it at midnight, New York time, right. So I was asleep, and out of nowhere, someone jumps on me, like, “Oh you made it! You made it!” I'm like, “What are you talking about? Get off of me.” Like, you made it, you made it on the album. I'm like, “What are you talking about?” And then I look at my phone I have like, missed calls, texts, and yada, yada, yada. And literally, the album hasn't even been out for like an hour, whatever.
Danny: Nobody told you that your beat was like – you found out when it dropped?
Ray: When it dropped, because I knew that like – I knew we did the song, but I didn't know if it was going to make the album. And so when it did, that's when I got all the texts.
Danny: And so you submit this beat, and then Beyonce and her team are like, in a bunker under a mountain and they're working on this top secret. And then it's just like, bam. And then they just release it.
Ray: Yeah. Well pretty much, like I said, I was there when they went to go mix and everything, but for the most part I was like, “Oh is it going on the album? They were like, “No we're just mixing and mastering it to find out what blah, blah,” and then when they released it two days after, which was that December, I was like wow, you know, I'm saying I was super excited. I went have my little tears for myself I was like yeah. And then I checked the album credits and they said my name and I said, “Oh it's over, it's over.” So that was pretty cool.
Danny: Then at that point, is that like when you get a call from Beyonce, and she's like, “Look, we're on the yacht.”
Ray: I wish.
Danny: Helicopter is going to pick you up on the roof of your building.
Ray: I wish. You know, they call me to do anything, I’ll be like, “What time?” You know, “I'll just pay for my own ticket. Never mind, I don't even need a ticket. I got a mask. I’mma use it, stay under the plane, it's perfect. I got it, don't worry about it. I'll be there in about five hours. Just let me know GPS signal. I know you've got unknown callers so let's go.” I wish it was that easy, but it wasn't – I didn't even meet her until after. Like, months after the record was released, and that was just passing by and seeing her at the Grammys, and that was that.
Danny: So you just ran – like, you're at the Grammys, and you guys went past each other, and she's like, “Oh Ray, you made that song for me,” and you’re like, “Oh, what’s up!”
Ray: Pretty much. Like, that’s pretty much how it went, you know what I'm saying, that’s how it really went. Like, Hit Boy had the relationship, I didn't have it or whatever. And so, you know, he was great, like, I was great, you know, in great spirits, to get him to do that for me, like I didn't – he didn't have to do that, you know. And so he was like, “Yo I'm working on my stuff right now, I really need some help with like, you know, getting these places, and so you say you want to work, let’s work” So give him whatever he needs, then boom, that, you know, that was that.
Danny: Yeah. What do you think about, when like, a big producer has like – goes to producers. Do you think it's annoying for those guys to like, not get as much attention as the main producers? Is that just part of the game?
Ray: I mean is part of the game. But I think that the main producer does need to like, you know, step up and give that credit when due, you know what I'm saying. Like Kobe will tell you he won five championships, but he'll never say he didn't do it without Shaq or whatever, and that played a big role. He'll never say, you know, he didn't do it without Robert Horry or Rick Fox or whatever. You know, whatever the case may be. And in that situation, for me it's like, if I was a main — you know, I'm a producer now for myself. So when I do have other people help me, I'll let them know that, “Oh me and my boy Kawaii did this, or me and my boy Des, me and my boy Preach,” or, “Who did the beat?” “Preach did the beat, I just added stuff; Kawaii did the beat, I just added stuff.” You know, you don't have to define what you did. But it's more – it helps. That way, it's not like – I've been in situations where, you know, people have like, hits going into the room, and I'll come in and they’ll kind of look like, “And who are you?” And I’m like, “Well little do you know, I'm helping my boy out right here.” And you know, I'm not trying to give off his, and say, and discredit him for anything, because he makes great fucking music. But we work well as a team, myself, Hayes, S.Dot, Preach, like, we work really well as a team. So like, you know, when you go in and they think it's just him, and then you come in with a real team, then you have to kind of like respect that. And he gives us our credit, you know, he’ll let people know in the room like, all he does, “He did this, he did that,” and so, you know, here it is. Some people who are just like, would not go for that.
Danny: Yeah. I feel like a lot of people don’t know, if it says like, an album produced by Dr. Dre, I mean, there's like an army of people that go in there.
Ray: He’s the conductor, and that's why I respect him so much, because even though he may not have done everything – but to conduct all that on to one project is a lot to do more than just doing one song. And so, being able to piece and puzzle, you know, put together, you know, a whole project for somebody, and have it cohesively sound together is you know, is big, you know. But he also, again, gives credit when due, and makes sure that people are paid.
Danny: Names are on there and so on and so forth. I heard many stories about him to where he's very on top of that, and he will not let it go until it's taken care of. Even if you have to go back. I've always felt like producers and like this – they just don't get enough credit. You know, it's like, you know, people will always be like, I love the beat, you know, that's what they get into first, and it's just the artists on there. I don't know, it pisses me off. It has to piss you off too.
Ray: Actually, it doesn't bother me, because I know what I did, and I'm confident with myself to not – to you know, not hold that against anyone. I feel bad for writers because they think, you know, the writers are the ones that have to come up with all this stuff to say. And there are a couple artists who don't really do anything and get credited for doing stuff like, oh you know, “I like that song so-and-so did, and blah, blah.” I was like, “Well, they didn't write it.” And sometimes that song wasn't even originally for them. Or you can have a song for Bruno Mars and then turn around and Bruno’s like, you know, “I like it, but it's not something that fits me,” and then Hit goes back and give it to Justin Timberlake and now Justin Timberlake is singing the one that Bruno was supposed to have, you know. And they both write their own stuff too. You know, but even having co-writers, it's kind of hard, because you can't specifically pick out what you wrote, and what you say. “Oh I wrote the hook; I wrote the verse; I wrote this, I wrote that.” In production, you can. “I did the drums, and my homeboy came over and played the keys.”
Danny: Yeah. But not being like, formally trained on keys and stuff in the studio, you know, you obviously use a lot of keys in your songs. Do you consider that an advantage or disadvantage?
Ray: Disadvantage. I struggle a lot because there's a lot of melodies that I like to get written out that are in my head, out, you know on wax, and I can jingle it in a single note. And I might even just play what I know until I can have somebody come in and be like, “Yo, can you make it more bigger, grander,” but I would like to be able to just pull the keyboard out and really play what I feel or what I hear. And then, you know, be able to read and not only be able to perform with other people, to go on tours, to be called to be like, “Oh can you play keys for us,” or not just keys but like, guitar, like, you know, just different instruments. Because you know, there's protégées out there that play like, 20 what – didn’t Prince play like 20 different ones?
Danny: Well I think Prince claimed to play 200 instruments. And whenever I hear that, I'm like, “Name 30 instruments.”
Ray: I was gonna say, is there 200?
Danny: I don't even think there are, but yeah, he made some stupid claim like he could just play like everything ever. But the thing is, I think he could.
Ray: I mean what they said. I mean obviously, well, I'll never get to experience, you know, that, but they said that he was just amazing in the studio. So I mean, and he played from the heart and he didn't – he kind of like, taught himself, so, yeah. It was like, again, I didn't have keyboard and keyboard training or any type of like, whatever you want to, you know, and drive to want to play keys when I was younger, because I know what I was doing. You don't say not everyone thinks like that but then as I got older I felt stupid that I didn't know these things. But that's why you just make up for that.
Danny: Is there anybody you really want to produce a song for?
Ray: No. I want to produce for everybody. That's just me. Like, I like to produce in different genres. That's what I really want to do. Like, not necessarily any one specifically anymore, because like I've gotten blessed to work with the biggest of the, you know, the best. You know, so different genres for me is like, where I'm at right now. Country, even like, alternative, jazz, would be dope. I was going down the Grammy list actually. And you know how has like, the nominees.
Danny: Was it like, the pamphlet you had when you were at the Grammys?
Ray: Yeah. And it would be so dope to get nominated for like, one of each. Like, just make it not all at one time, but just like different segments of my life, to be nominated for different categories.
Danny: If Nickelback walked into the studio right now and said, “Ray we want you to produce a record,” would you do it?
Danny: Limp Bizkit?
Danny: Linkin Park?
Danny: Wow. Awesome. That's awesome.
Ray: I mean, why not, because they're going to teach me.
Danny: No, no, I love it.
Ray: You know, pool whatever music I have in me, out of me, you know, to work as hard as I can. That's why I like working with different genres because it makes me have to go left, or it makes me have to like, dive in deep and like really get that musicality out. And like, you know, to share with them.