INTERVIEW: CJ Ray

Hi CJ, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I have been doing really well. Life is crazy but as one of 8 kids growing up, I am used to crazy.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Today”?

“Today” is a song that just fell out of me. I have been trying to walk in faith for some years and my numerous shortcomings were constantly staring me in the face. One morning I sat at my piano and wrote the majority of the song. I shared it with my writing partner, Greg Karagianis (guitarist for Andy Grammar) and he shaped it and fine-tuned the arrangement and it became what it is now.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes! I was visiting a little church that was meeting in a storefront building. The pastor was talking about what it meant to live for God. I was touched by the message and went home that morning contemplating the message. When I got home, I walked straight into my studio and started unpacking the feelings I had carried home.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

The video for “Today” was just shot and is in the editing stage. The same team that I worked with on “Death Valley”, is back working on this video and I am excited for its release! In fact, the music video concept is a bit of a sequel to “Death Valley.”

How was the recording and writing process?

As I mentioned, the song came together quickly. My co-writer Greg and I recorded an acoustic version within weeks of writing the song. I really loved the honestly and transparency of that recording but after some time, we decided to record the song with the band. We made minor changes to the lyrics and arrangement and brought the players together for the track.

What role does Las Vegas play in your music?

I ended up in the Las Vegas area by chance. My wife and I sold our Chicago area home and everything in it and bought a 42-foot coach. We toured around the country for three years and ended up finding a crazy thing called an RV resort in the SW corner of Las Vegas. We bought a lot, parked our coach and fell in love with the people and beauty of the area. One of our neighbors was the daughter of the actor James Best who played Rosco P. Coltrane on the Dukes of Hazzard. She heard me playing and singing one night and loved my songs. She introduced me to her son, Cameron Tyler and her Brother in law Michael Damian, both of whom encouraged me to keep writing and recording.

How has Bon Jovi and Van Halen influenced your writing?

I grew up listening to so many great bands. I love many of the 80s and 90s artists but also don’t like how formulaic much of the music of that period became.  I know I have been influenced by guitar centered music like the two bands mentioned above but I hope that my own personality shows in the songs I write and record.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Yes. We are about to be in the studio again in a couple days to finish up new songs. I’m working on releasing an EP in a few months! It’s been so fun creating these songs, I am all about enjoying this journey. It’s been such a gift to make music during these challenging times.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

We’re still working on those, but I can tell you that I’m excited to be releasing the music video for “Today” at the end of this year/top of 2021. Then the EP will be out by Spring of 2021.

What else is happening next in CJ Ray’s world

I am focused on how to become a person God can use to better love and help people. I have been so blessed and I want to be a blessing to others. I am excited about the future and look forward to the twists and turns ahead.  Find my music here:  http:// https://ffm.to/cjrtoday

Click Here to Watch “Death Valley.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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