Taiwanese Breakout RayRay Talks Yellow Claw Cosign, 'Alien Invasion' EP & More

Nachi Lee
RayRay

For someone so young in her career, RayRay packs quite the impressive résumé. Hailing from Taipei, Taiwan, RayRay is a fast-rising producer/DJ who creates the type of hard-hitting dance music that can move mountains. Since first breaking into the scene in 2013, the year she won the Red Bull Thre3style DJ competition in Taiwan and later represented her motherland in the series’ World Finals, RayRay has been on a direct path to dance floor domination. In 2019 alone, she performed at Tomorrowland, Glastonbury and Ultra Singapore, and that’s on top of previous gigs at SXSW, ADE and Sonar.

RayRay got her start as a hip-hop DJ at 17 in the local Taipei scene. She commands a frenetic sound and DJ style best described as “alien bass”: low-end, hard-edged subs from beyond the cosmos.

“I think of myself [as] not a human,” RayRay tells Billboard Dance. “I'm from outer space, and I bring what I love and the definition of music to the human.”

She takes her intergalactic EDM to deep space on her Alien Invasion, out today on Yellow Claw’s Barong Family label, her second EP on the imprint. Following 2018's Purple Alien EP, it's five tracks are an unrelenting barrage of bass in all shapes and styles: dubstep (“Outer Space”), Jersey club (“Back n Forth,” featuring Aazar) and trap (“Like This,” with Gianno Marino and featuring Lil Debbie). She also dropped a brand-new music video for EP opener “Outer Space,” featured below. According to RayRay, the clip showcases some of the beauty of her hometown.

As Taiwan’s first breakout EDM artist, RayRay helps Taiwan's expansion into the worldwide dance music industry. The region hosted international brands like Arcadia, elrow, Creamfields and UNITE With Tomorrowland, in addition to homegrown EDM festivals Looptopia and the Taiwanese installment of Thailand’s S2O Songkran Music Festival.

“I think the scene in Taiwan, right now, is actually super good,” she says. “From the artists' perspective, we really need more of these kinds of opportunities, and I hope the festivals are not just booking the international artists, but also giving more opportunity to the Asian artists or the local artists as well.”

We caught up with RayRay to talk Alien Invasion, Taiwan’s growing electronic music scene and her plan to break into the U.S. market. 

Your last EP was called Purple Alien. Your new EP is called Alien Invasion. What's up with the whole alien obsession? 

I think of myself [as] not a human; I'm from outer space, and I bring what I love and the definition of music to the human. That's the concept. My last EP is kind of like an introduction, and this EP is like "I'm using my own music to colonize human beings, but
in a good way. [Laughs]

So is your music from outer space?

My music is definitely from outer space. You can tell from my EP. I really like to use a lot of weird sounds. All my production is actually from samples. I record a lot of samples when I'm traveling, and then I turn that sound into maybe a synth or maybe an effects sound. I feel like that's the unique part of my music. Also, I used to make a lot of weird trap music, but now I make more EDM, more mainstream stuff. By that time, I already considered myself an alien, so I want to keep using that title and put it in what I'm doing right now.

How does your new EP differ from your last?

Purple Alien [doesn’t] have a really specific idea or concept. I just pulled what I made in the past into one EP, but with [Alien Invasion], I started last year, and luckily, Yellow Claw got involved. So this EP not only has my ideas, but also has Yellow Claw's suggestions. This EP is more ambitious, because I really want people to know my music besides Asia, but also U.S. and Europe. That's why I tried so many genres in this EP, and also I started to rap.

How and when did you start rapping?

I [started as] a hip-hop DJ, so I actually listened to a lot of hip-hop music. Back in the day, I used to hang out with all the rappers, and I learned from them, but I never [tried rapping]. I tried [singing] one song two years ago with X&G [“Seven”], and I really liked it, but I never did it again. Right now, I just keep writing. I really enjoy writing lyrics, and I really enjoy fixing and twisting my vocals on tracks. I feel like it can provide me [with] a bigger identity and introduce me to the audience: I'm not only a DJ, but also a producer and also a rapper. It can create a more dynamic [version] of my sets, so I can DJ and I can also perform a live set.

Can you talk about the electronic music and clubbing scene in Taiwan? Do you see a potential for growth for those scenes for Taiwan?

People ... are really excited about all the festivals [here]. Also, we have a lot of new, very good up-and- coming producers. They are trying so hard to get into the scene and push their own music to the world. For the clubs and festivals, it's definitely growing and we definitely need more artists. For example Looptopia, they gave the local artists the opportunity to prove themselves and more opportunity to meet all these international artists. From the artists' perspective, we really need more of these kinds of opportunities, and I hope the festivals are not just booking the international artists, but also giving more opportunity to the Asian artists or the local artists as well. We actually have different kinds of international festivals happening [here] in the past few years, but I really want to see [us] have more local festivals and not just the international brands.

What is the artist community like in Taiwan?

I work with a lot of the hip-hop music scene, and I also work with the EDM scene. They are very united, and they'e very supportive. For example, back in the day in the hip-hop scene, they actually saw everybody as the competitors, but now, everybody works together. We can have one tribe blending with different kinds of music styles. For example, hip-hop producers or rappers, they are willing to work with EDM producers as well. We are working so hard to get into the world. If you can help yourself, but also help others, then why not? I think that's the idea all the artists are having right now. Not [only in] Taiwan, but in Asia.

What's your plan for breaking through in the United States?

I'm making a plan right now [to go] to the U.S. for a studio session in November, and I tried to contact all the artists I know [there], like Josh Pan, Skrillex, [Good Things Ahead] GTA. I want to have a [weeklong] session with them and try to work with more U.S. artists than the European route. Right now, all the artists I work with are actually from Europe instead of the U.S. That will be a goal for this year: to have more collabs with the U.S. producers.

Alien Invasion is out now on Barong Family. Listen to it below.

 

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