Ray Guell 2008 Interview

So Ray, thanks for stopping by!!!

First, I would like to thank you for your support and interest in my career. I truly appreciate it. Although it may seem that I was away from the limelight, I truly was not. I am an artist who continues to evolve and I for one, have always liked to try new things and different avenues. 


Thats great to hear, so what age did you definitively say, “I want to be an artist and perform?”
Well, I have wanted to sing from before I could even talk. Well, that is how my mom explains it. But if I may confess, I never thought I sang very well. You know how it is when you are a kid. I remember every time I would sing, friends would always make jokes, so it did create somewhat of an insecurity for me. Kids can be so cruel. As a result of that, I focused more on acting and dancing. I studied acting and dancing in college and later continued my studies at UCLA. It was not until a friend asked me to audition a duet with her, that the thought of singing actually took off.

Really?? Oh please do share!!!
Let me explain. When in college I joined her in that audion piece, I remember the song, “With You I’m Born Again”. Well to make a long story short, I got the part, she did not. So at that point, I started vocal training. The funny thing is, all those voice teachers wanted to make me sound like an opera singer, and that just was not me. I was more of a musical theater stage type of singer. But the training was good. Just like ballet, yuck ! I hated ballet, but I did love tap dancing. But you know, ballet does give you the strength and form to be a good dancer. I don’t know, maybe I just couldn’t get passed the tights.

So, tell us how did you get involved into being a performer on stage?
To give you a bit of background history in my career: I first became interested in stage and acting. Through my education and evolvement in the theater I evolved into singing. When a tragedy hit my family early on in my career, and I was in the middle of rehearsals for a spanish version of the musical ” A Chorus Line” in Los Angeles, CA where I was living and continuing my studies. I had to leave the show abruptly and return to Miami to be with my family. As one might imagine, I was not only disappointed that after finally landing a part I had dreamt of playing, I was also dealing with my dad’s sudden illness. Thankfully, my dad survived and is still with me. My family is number one for me, so there was no hesitation on my decision. Unfortunately, there really was no theatrical avenue in Miami at the time so my theatrical dreams sort of took the back seat.

Wow, what a traumatic experience. It must have been a tough time in your life. As a result, did Miami become your permanent home or did you move back to CA?
Oh, I forgot to mention, I was born and raised in Miami. My cultural background is Cuban, and this is a culture I embrace. I still call Miami home, although, I have also lived in New York City; another city I also love. one might guess it is because my ultimate dream is to be performing on Broadway. I have faith that it will happen someday.

I see, so you were a man of many cities. So, happened after Miami?
So let me fast forward: When I returned home from Los Angeles and realized that theater was just not going to happen in Miami, I got a regular job and became a frustrated artist. At some point I got involved in a relationship and fell in love, only to be left heart broken. Hence, where did you think I got my lyrics from? Well, I am not one to drown myself in sorrows, so I used all that negative emotion to fuel my drive to pursue my art again. I like to think of myself as a survivor, never a victim. Trust me, it’s a good rule to live by. Eventually, I put a band together called Opportunity Knocks. It was more of a new wave band. I financed a demo and shopped it to a record label. Ironically, they signed me, but not the band. That is when the label hooked me up with Tolga Katas.

Ah, yes, Tolga Katas!! You beat me out to my next question on how did you and miami’s legendary producer end up hooking up. Please do share!!
I remember, going to his house where he had a home studio and we felt each other’s vibe instantly. At that point we laid down some instrumental tracks and as he was working on the programming I was writing the lyrics to “You Took My Heart”. That was supposed to be my first single. When we got together again to lay down the back ground vocals, I had an idea for another song and we started messing around with it. That song was “Just Another Lover”. I remember listening to the instrumental track as I was driving home and the lyrics just came to me. Of course you do realize, these lyrics are everything I was feeling at the time, so they were somewhat auto biographical.

Do you look back and listen to lyrics and reflect on them?
Jeez, when I listen to them now, they sound so tragic. I guess I have always liked the drama of sad songs, must be from all those years in the theater world. Thankfully, I am not alone.

Was the music you and Tolga doing the music you thought you would be doing in your career? In other words, what was the types of music that really inspired you throughout your life?
Well as a kid, I always listened to all the old Mo town records. I was really into R & B. In my teen years I discovered Disco and my favorite diva, Donna Summer. Disco ruled ! So I guess that is where my beginnings into dance music came from. I will confess, I still love Disco. My musical idols would be, Donna Summer of course, and Celia Cruz (I also love salsa). Ok, and Madonna does it for me too. Today, I not only listen to them but I have a wide variety of music I like. I love Beyonce, Sade, Shante Moore, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Morcheeba, Andrea Boceli, Barry White, Calle 13…….really, too many to list. Let me just say my Ipod presently holds 93 days worth of music and I am not done downloading all my music. I also have all the Bar Grooves and the After Dark compilations, those are great for a work out . I will listen to anything from classical to soft rock. I tend to stay away from the hard core heavy metal and hardcore country, but I ain’t hating. It’s all good.

Tell us about your first concert experience as a performer?
I have to admit, I don’t remember, but you know, I had already performed on stage in theater productions, so those performances sort of broke the ice. I will admit, that no matter how many times I have performed, I have never lost my stage fright or butterflies just before a performance. Geez, sometimes right before a performance I go blank and I forget all the lyrics, but once the music kicks in, it all comes back and something just takes over me. What I do remember vividly was hearing my song on the radio for the first time. I was driving to a party and my song came on in a mix show on Power 96, a local radio station here in Miami, it was very surreal. I was alone in my car and I remember I started to cry like a baby. That particular experience I only shared with God. It really was a very special moment for me, getting to that point in my life had not been an easy journey. And the truth is, had it not been for my faith, I just don’t know if it would have been possible. I continue to live each day thanking God for all the blessings he continues to bestow upon me.

It seems that freestyle and its history is dwindling away as the years go by. Share with us a brief insight of what Freestyle was to you and what it means?
hmmmm. Well, to me it was all dance music, I wasn’t caught up in the whole labeling. Freestyle in my opinion is a fusion of a bunch of dance music styles. You know, for me it all really stems from disco. It was a great time though. I have had the pleasure of working with many different types of producers from Tolga, Chris Barbosa, Luis Martine, Georgie Porgie, Giuseppe D, etc. It’s a long list, and I have learned and enjoyed the experiences with each of them. Every producer has been a different experience.

You mention Georgie Porgie and and the fact that you worked with many other producers. It was during that time that you were working on and putting out your album, correct?
The “Inspiration” album, was a very special time for me. Unfortunately, there was a problem in the release of that album and I think it hindered the success of that album. That album was originally to be released on my own label, Groovy Tunes, but as things happen in our industry, some people are shady and do things that are unethical. I would rather not get into the negative, but I ended up having to pull that album from the market. That was a great disappointment because there were some really nice ballads in that album that never got heard. That album had a diversity to it that people just never got to experience. But don’t fret, I always bring free copies to my performances and give them away as gifts. So if you want to have it, come out to see me when I am in your area. Or if you can’t wait that long, you can email me directly on purchasing this album at: RayGuell@Gmail.com.

As you mentioned, you are influenced by many forms of music and you are very diverse in the forms of music you perform from ballads to dance tracks and different forms of dance. What type of music artist do you consider yourself then and now?
That is a difficult question, because I don’t like to limit myself as an “artist”. I have many interests, and so much left that i would like to do. Perhaps I have enjoyed certain success in some genres more than others. But really, I am an artist that would like to continue to evolve and learn and continue to create. I would hate to put limitations on myself. I am still active in the acting and have been involved in theatrical performances. I continue to be involved in independent films and would love to produce my own film one day and maybe also producing the soundtrack. So, you ask if I love freestyle ? Of course I do. That infectious bass and kick…how could I not love it. I do understand that there are a ton of freestyle fans and I will continue to include freestyle mixes in my future projects. But you know something, listen to some of the new music that is being released under the label of electronica. If you listen closely, you might still find the influence of the freestyle sound. I think that freestyle is evolving into a newer sound, but with the same key influences. Look we are one big dance music community, and diversity is beautiful. I for one, will continue to experiment and try other styles. Most recently I was working with Pablo Rainer, and we were creating something more of a luxury house or light electronica sound. Really, I don’t know how you would label it, so I won’t. But my new single, “In your Eyes” came from those productions.

Yes, your new single has taken that road that you just described. Tell us about that track and how it evolved?
Jorge Ojeda took my vocal accappellas and created a great remix track that I happen to love. I am hoping that once all the mixes are done, Destune Records will also want to include the original (Jon Pito, are you listening ?). Currently, Destune Records is working on different mixes to be able to fit the different formats to make this a successful release. I am really liking this experience with Jorge Ojeda and Jon Pito and I think we will create beautiful music together. And who knows, maybe I will have the pleasure of working with Tolga again someday (hint hint, Tolga are you listening ?). That would really be a hoot, since he was instrumental in my early success.

How can one get this track?
Currently, you can download “In Your Eyes” on beatport.com and I it will also be available in the other digital download venues. If you want to listen to it, you can always go to my myspace, just look for Ray Guell. I actually have two myspace sites. Look for the one that says RayGuellArtist, or just find me on Freestyle Mania’s friends list. There, you can also listen to some other music I have recorded, and of course those golden oldies as well.

So, with this new electronic single you just released that has that freestyle influence, do you think its still a dead genre or viable market to venture into?
You know, for years industry types would tell me not to record freestyle that it would kill my career. Freestyle is not dead, and as far as I am concerned it will never die. Do I feel freestyle is changing ? I prefer to think it is evolving. But as I said before, dance music is dance music, and I love the power of dance music, no matter what form or beat it may come in. And to all you freestyle fans, as long as you guys are willing to listen, I will continue to create for you.

Do you plan on doing some venue tours?
I do plan on heading out on tour again to promote and perform my new and old music. I would like to create a different experience than what the fans are used to seeing. I would like to have live musicians and make it visually stimulating as well, unfortunately it all has to do with the budgets and the venues. Right now I am still in the “putting it together” stage. But I promise to be out there to see you all soon.

Where and how can your fans contact you?
I can be found on Myspace or can be directly emailed to my Fans Email at: rayguell@gmail.com

Well Ray, thank you so much for sharing with us some of your career’s history and wish you well in all new endevours you pursue. I can say on behalf of the readers of FM, we are glad you are back and haven’t forgotten us, your loyal fans. Thank You for putting out the music that you did and are still doing. Anything else you would like to add?
I want to take this opportunity to thank Freestyle Mania for giving us all a place to keep the freestyle movement going, and particularly, I want to thank all the fans for all the love and support they have shown me throughout all these years. It is truly very humbling. Thank you for being part of, and for allowing a shy guy from Miami have his dream come true. You guys rock ! May God bless you all. Ray Guell


About freestylemania

Freestyle fan since day 1. I started Freestylemania.com back in 1997 but finally got a real looking website in 1999 and have never stopped since.