Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with CariRay

I am hanging out today with a lady that deserves some much needed attention. Her voice radiates absolute talent and her guitar playing is right there with her. Bringing a true sense of the word musician to the stage, she puts 100% every night into every song. Having seen her at a local bar not too long ago, I knew she had something. Sounding like a country version of Sheryl Crow, her voice stays consistent from song to song. Throwing in a few covers that you would have no idea were covers except for her telling you so, you get to see a range in her voice show after show. I am happy to be sitting with Cari Ray.

Is Cari Ray your real name?

As a matter of fact it is.

How long have you been playing?

Well, I’ve been singing in public since I was three and picked up the guitar in college. I wrote my first song my senior year.

What is your first memory of the guitar?

My dad had a 1964 Gibson LG-O and I used to open the case and strum it when no one was around.

Do you have any jobs outside of music?

Yes. I am a marketing consultant.

Do you travel outside of Indiana very often for shows?

Not yet but I’m looking to set up some touring to promote the new record due out later this summer. I know it’s old-fashioned to call it a record but I like saying it better than CD.

I heard you were putting a band together?

When will we see that take form? Between work, solo shows and recording my plate is pretty full right now. So we decided to put the kabosh on rehearsals for now. I’ll likely roll out the full-band show once the CD is out.

Tell me about the people in your band.

All in good time…

What is your favorite venue to play?

So far, the Biergarten at the Rathskeller was pretty cool. I love outdoor shows. I like stinky old theaters with blood red carpet too.

Do you write all your own lyrics?

Every word.

Have you ever co-written with anyone before?

No, but I have interest in doing so and have kicked the idea around with a couple of folks.

Who does all your graphic design work?

For now, me. I do have a degree in graphic design and since I’m bootstrapping this thing right now I save up and get help when I have to (like getting professionals to work with me on the recording) and do what I can myself.

When did you know you wanted to take a run at this thing called music?

Which time? From a very early age I knew music was “my thing”…wasn’t sure what that meant, but just knew it. Then I got older, went to college and made up that I needed to do something responsible…like get a job. This time around I think it hit me about a year ago that this was what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel like there are stories that need telling and I’m one of the people who’s meant to tell them.

What is the biggest crowd that you have ever played for?

About 3000.

The smallest?

At a pubic gig? 5.

Let’s say that you are offered a $250,000 record deal but it was a rap album and someone else’s lyrics. Do you do it?

Hell no.

Let’s get a pizza. What toppings?

Cheese. Mushrooms. Extra sauce.

Do you have any thoughts on a nation wide tour this year?

Not clear about that as yet. But yes, I’ve been thinking in that direction. Am certain that I’ll need to tour to promote the record but haven’t figured precisely what that will look like.

How do you know Sheryl Hugill?

We’re members of a secret society. I’d tell you about it but it’s…well…secret.

Are you actively seeking a record deal?

The ad reads something like this: SWS/S ISO record label sugar daddy to coordinate promotion and pay the bills. Know any of those? Seriously though…no, not actively. But this is an ever-evolving thing. I’m trying to stay focused on the music and getting it heard by as many potential fans as I can. If I continue to make this about connecting with people (and am willing to work my ass off, of course) I think I have the best chance of getting somewhere. If a label turns out to be a good conduit, then so be it.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Patty Griffin. Lucinda Williams. Gillian Wlech. EmmyLou Harris. Willie Nelson.

Where do you get inspiration for a new song?

It’s usually a concept before it’s a song…a single line or musical phrase…sometimes they come in response to something but more often than not they seem to appear out of the void…the nothingness. My more prolific periods as a writer have definitely been associated with times in my life when I was able to spend adequate time sitting still. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t know how to be a songwriter, I just know I am one.

What would you be doing if you were not performing?

Creating something else.

What are your thoughts on MySpace?

Love it. Hate it. There’s no question that, as an artist, MySpace and the myriad of other social networking sites are great place to reach out to fans and promote your stuff. The internet in general has undoubtedly made it easier for folks like me to be seen and heard. On the other hand, as a solo artist trying to get off the ground, trying to keep up with, blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Reverb Nation can be daunting. Not to mention YouTube which I have yet to do much with. Wow, I didn’t realize I had that much to say about it. But the work is just part of it…I guess that’s why they call it the music business and not the music vacation.

Describe your genre in one word.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

On stage.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

Telling the kind of stories a person can plop themselves into and feel like they fit…comfortable or not. Life is awesome and awful. It’s worth telling the whole story.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Wow, the last word, I knew I liked you. This whole journey is fraught with uncertainty. Maybe that’s what’s intoxicating about it. Potential fans are just lovers waiting to be wooed. I’ve always loved the chase.