Currently one of the hottest female vocalists in drum & bass right now, Athens born Marianna Ray has a voice that soars effortlessly across the octaves, swooping low in a husky undertone and soaring up through the registers with power and drive. She has a sound that is instantly recognisable and quite frankly, beautiful.
Steadily making a name for herself over the last couple of years, collaborating with the likes of (among many others), Tantrum Desire, Tobax, Sound in Noise and most recently Cliques, Marianna’s powerful vocal range and emotional delivery is starting to garner major recognition across the drum & bass movement.
We caught up with her to enquire about her journey so far. Watch this lady. She is going to seriously blow up.
“Marianna is an amazing talent and a true creative. Her lyrics hit on different levels and vocally she stands out with her powerful and emotive vocal range. We love working with her and she will be a constant feature on Cliques tunes in the future” – Cliques
Firstly, let us commend you on your beautiful voice. How old were you when your love affair with singing started?
Thank you very much! I know it may sound clichéd, but it started as far back as I can remember, probably around 5-6 years old. I used to sing a lot in my room using brushes as microphones and stuff!
And what about your early taste in music? What kind of sounds were you exposed to growing up?
I was really into hip hop culture. I used to listen to rap a lot and I also loved listening to big soul and R ‘n’ B divas, drawing lots of inspiration from them, but to be honest, I was open to all genres, as long as a song gave me goosebumps, I couldn’t care less which genre it came from. I had tapes (yes, tapes, I’m old!) from Mariah Carey to Nirvana and from pop groups to gabba hardcore.
How did you find Drum & Bass, or did it find you?
It definitely found me. I had an older cousin back in my teenage days who used to bring me and my brother vinyl and CDs to educate us. I think I was 15 when one day he played me ‘’Stay Calm’’, the Amen monster from DJ Pulse. I was like ‘’What is this?? What the F is this?’’ There was no way back! I love music as I said no matter what the genre, but D&B is like the love of my life. My first choice, and my last. When I started exploring vocal D&B tracks it was like ‘’that’s it. This is what I want to do’’
Tell us a bit about Drum & Bass in Greece? What’s the scene like out there?
Unfortunately, it is small. We do not have D&B radio shows nor many D&B parties. There aren’t too many people following the scene, but we have some parties in the summer taking place in islands like Corfu or Zante. Hopefully, it will get bigger one day.
So onwards to your first explorations with getting your voice out there then. What were your first steps into the arena like?
The first steps were difficult and slow. For one reason. My love is to song write. I song write a lot and I record my own songs and this is the main thing I do. The struggle to demo and connect on my own and be heard has been difficult, especially being in another country where everything has to be done online with no personal contact. I had to find people that believed in me, people that gave time to listen to me, people that let me show what I can do and what I can write. I love the process of writing because I have specific melodies in my head. Strangely enough, they all are at 174bpm!
And your first release?
It was on a small UK D&B label. It was more like simple vocal ad-libs rather than singing an actual song with choruses and verses, but it was a start. A promising start.
How do you record your vocals then? What’s the studio set up?
We have a small studio set up here at home where I record all my ideas and all my demos. For the final stems, I collaborate with another studio here in Athens for my final recordings.
Do you create original vocals for tracks you get sent, or do the artists usually have something in mind?
Sometimes artists work on my original demos, building the production around the vocal, or it may be the other way round. They often send me instrumentals and I song write over them.
Your voice is very authentic and instantly recognisable. What do you do to keep your vocal chords healthy?
I’ve been having singing lessons for over 11 years now. I switched a couple of teachers until I found my mentor few years ago. I owe everything to my teacher. Singing is like gym training. Vocal chords are muscles. You have to keep training in order to see progress and evolve. I don’t smoke and I drink a lot of water, and I also never go to the studio if I haven’t slept well, or with a coffee. Whenever I went into a lesson holding a coffee my teacher was like ‘’Tell me you are not drinking that before we start’’.
Have you thought about maybe some solo releases or an album?
Yes, of course. I have few original songs I would really love to see released in an album. Hopefully they will one day.
And would you consider venturing outside of Drum & Bass in the future?
Of course. Music has no boundaries!
So, tell us a bit about your latest release with Cliques. Cliques Got Dubs Vol 3 was killer, but this remix package seems to bring something a little different in that there is a beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘Are You There’ that really showcases your vocals.
What can I say about Cliques? From day one we collaborated so smoothly. It’s rare to find such easy chemistry. We agree so easily and we work pretty fast together. The acoustic version blew my mind when I first heard it. The piano and strings are gorgeous in it. Also the Kleu remix is so huge, as is the VIP.
You’ve really blown up this last two years. What advice would you give to aspiring singers within the scene who are trying to break through?
Don’t give up. I almost did. But rejection is part of the journey. There is not a single artist in this world who has never been rejected. But remember it doesn’t come easily. Train, work, write, invest. And be patient. It doesn’t come in one night.
Finally, what have you got lined up for the foreseeable future? You looking at some live gigs or festival dates, or any other releases in the pipeline?
I have some really exciting releases on the way. I can’t wait for them to be out! I would love to be part of some live gigs. Corona has made everything impossible for now, but I can see some light in the end of the tunnel.