It’s a big week for Ray Volpe as he follows up last year’s impressive Bipolar EP on his own RVYE brand. Having teased us over the last two weeks with the EP title track Reality and Hunt Me Down, this week he drops the whole four-track bounty. And it’s worth paying attention.
His first EP to be fully-powered by his own vocals, the Reality EP is the sound of an artist really starting to get into his own sound and style. Production-wise it’s as quirky, contrast-bristled and brutal as you’d expect from the man who gave us last year’s blunderbuss Bermuda. But vocally there’s a maturity he’s only just beginning to reveal. Flexing an emotional style that explores his original post-hardcore influences, lyrically digging deep into his recent heart/head/soul aches, it’s the sound of a man who once styled himself as a sad dubstep boi putting demons and dark encounters to rest.
In fact the Reality EP is the latest in a whole cannon of releases this year and 2017 has been big for Ray full stop: Kicking off with his massive Getter collaboration earlier this year, plus remixes of Delta Heavy and Marshmello and various freebies, Ray’s been ceaselessly denting us with drops throughout the year… Just as he has been since he emerged, age 15, before being promptly supported by Excision.
Still yet to turn 20 and boasting Rottun, Ram and Buygore stripes on his discographical CV, Ray Volpe is a powerful energy in dubstep’s new generation. And he’s only just warming up. Best start pronouncing his name properly, then, because you’re going to hear it more and more…
Sorry man, I’ve just realised I’ve been saying your name wrong all this time!
Have you been saying Volp?
I have. I feel like a right dick now.
Ha! Everyone gets it wrong. Only 10% of people get it right. I’ve questioned it myself many times. Recently I checked it out with an Italian driver I had in LA and she confirmed it’s definitely Volpe. It’s like, okay fuck it I’m good to go!
You seem to be in a happy place right now?
I certainly am. It’s been a great year musically and personally. I think the emotional lyrics on my EP might suggest otherwise….
You’ve gone pretty deep haven’t you?
Yeah it’s personal. It’s not an easily relatable record or something you can package up sweetly for radio. It’s about me and what I’ve been dealing with. I call it the Who Hurt You? EP.
What have you been dealing with?
Up until recently this joke of my sad boi brand. Ray Volpe looking for love, looking for a girlfriend… It’s been a funny joke between myself and my fans. But the actual reality of that is that I’ve been hurt and burnt a lot of times. And I’ve put all of those emotions and experiences into the EP.
All this has happened while you’ve also been rising as an artist. Life changes doesn’t it?
100% It’s very surreal and you adapt in that way. You get bigger as an artist but as amazing that is, it does change your life. You question why people are entering your life… Are they there for you or there because of where you are? It becomes a question of people’s intentions.
You have to make snap decisions on people’s legitimacy so it’s easier to keep you guard up
Yeah and that’s fucking hard man! My natural reaction is to give people the benefit of the doubt but that puts me in a very vulnerable position.
Yeah you’re very open and honest and funny online… Is that what connected you with Getter? You’re kindred spirits in that way.
It’s how we became friends rather than just colleagues or associates. The humour and fun stuff pushed us over that line into something more real. Plus we have a lot of respect for each other’s music – he was the first to really push me out there and support me on that level. But if I think I get people with hate and bad intentions, it’s nothing compared to the shit he takes online. I understand why he reacts the way he does sometimes.
Why does this happen in life? Why do people waste the energy?
I don’t know man, it’s fucked up right? The more honest and transparent you are as an individual, the more hate you get off trolls or in real life. People are scared of complete honesty. That’s why deadmau5 gets shit on the daily – he throws out what he thinks and people can’t handle that. People are too emotionally guarded. I don’t want to get to that level, I do hold back, but I’ll never lie.
Your frankness reminds me of a recent interview with Tisoki. I believe you’re friends?
No I hate him!
Ha! I was surprised you’ve only just met IRL but your online BFF status has been like forever
I know, right? We actually met on skype in 2012. Dion Timmer and a few others were all thrown into this chat group by my friend who uploaded unreleased clips and things like that. It’s funny, at first I hated Brad (Tisoki) We genuinely didn’t like each other. I thought he was arrogant as fuck and he thought I was egotistical. Before all this I actually used to have a life so I’d only ever pop onto the chat when I had a tune out so he thought I was an asshole for that and I just though he was an asshole full stop. Eventually we got on a call and I realised he wasn’t such a dick after all and we’ve become best friends. And yeah we only met last month at Toxic Summer. It was awesome.
Coming through at the same time, similar age and outlook transcends space and location
We live in a world where best friends are made online much more now. We find love online. It’s the society we live in. It’s not as rare as you’d think. I just met my girlfriend online, for example.
How did you deal with the whole good / bad intentions thing when you met her?
Yeah that was important and I totally lucked out. She likes the music but she didn’t know I made the music. That’s totally sick – she gets what I do and want to do but she’s not with me for where I am. I’m very happy.
Awesome. So back to the EP; you’re settling into your vocals really confidently now…
I was extremely nervous when I did Bipolar. I was very sceptical about how the reaction would be. When the response was so overwhelmingly positive I was incredibly energised and inspired. I knew that was the reaction I wanted to go; making heavy music, at least for the most part, and singing on my songs. I’m not as confident as you’d think though!
There’s a big difference between putting your own production out and putting your own vocals out there isn’t there?
Everyone hates how they sound don’t they? I think it’s a general insecurity we all share. I know I can hold a tune and hit the notes but that doesn’t help when I hear it back. I just press record and throw it out there and I’m very happy people like it. It does put you in that vulnerable state – that extra layer of personality to your own music.
Your post-hardcore vocal style is quite refreshing within a dubstep context
Yeah it’s very emo/hard rock/post hardcore and metalcore inspired. I used to listen to a lot of bands like Of Mice & Men and Asking Alexandria, Memphis May Fire, Bring Me The Horizon, Attack Attack. Tones to name. They had these cool songs with powerful breakdowns, clean riffs and these vocalists with that specific style which stuck with me and has inspired me. It’s not a style I’ve heard on bass music and dubstep much before, if it all…
But so many people came through the emo and hardcore route!
Everyone, right? Guys like Borgore and Getter were in pretty heavy bands for example. And Skrillex of course.
What do you think of Tisoki doing heavy metal covers of his tunes? Would you do that? What’s your musical background before productions?
I never played any instruments full-on. I dabbled with clarinet in sixth grade but I just didn’t have the patience. I can play the intro of Welcome To The Black Parades intro by My Chemical Romance on the piano, though. But yeah, instead of doing metal covers, which I think is a sick idea, I’d love to feature with a band or collab with them. I’d love to dive into the scene in that way. Not be in a band completely but do appearances and things like that. But yeah I never really got into learning an instrument.
Doubt you had time… You’ve been producing since you were 12
Yeah exactly I didn’t have time for it.
It wasn’t that long before you put your release. You came through on the same label and same year as Barely Alive on Dirty Duck
Yes! And I was super young then. I worked with Diamond Eyes on that song, actually. But yeah, Barely Alive’s Killer In You VIP came out shortly after my release came out and I’ve been a fan since. Their Welcome To The Real World remix competition was a really important part of how I got onto Rottun, too. I didn’t win the competition but Excision started playing it so it ended up getting signed to Rottun and his Shambhala mix.
The Rottun EP was when things got serious for you wasn’t it
For sure. He’s been super supportive since 2014 when he started playing that remix and I can’t thank him enough. He wanted an EP from me so that’s how Skull Island came together.
Excision is the man. He’s constantly bringing the next generation up. I spoke to Dion about this earlier this year.
Totally. I have a lot of respect for Jeff Excision for doing what he does; he’s always on the look out for the new guys and helping people out. Not everyone in his position does that; they want to stay in that spotlight forever instead of actively showing people what the future is about.
Speaking of future, what’s next?
Lots I can’t quite confirm but definitely a remix of Boombox Cartel, which I’m excited to drop. There’ll be also be some free downloads very soon as a way of saying thanks for supporting me, I’ve got an incredible fanbase who have been so supportive and encouraging. Without them I wouldn’t be here talking to you. And of course I’ll be looking to play more shows and bigger ones.
They look decent sized anyway man!
Oh yeah sure but who doesn’t want to play bigger shows? What’s cool is that I held back from DJing for a long time and, excluding a little tour in 2015, I only really started this time last year. And yeah, I’ve played some fucking sick shows so far; all over the US. I kinda skipped the local scenes entirely. Like many things, I’m very grateful how things have worked out so far.