We had the good fortune of connecting with Ray Newlan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ray, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in San Diego, CA but also spent half of my life living in Tijuana, MX. I didn’t move to the US until I was 10 so for that first half of my life I was going to school in Tijuana. While being down there I was always involved in school events related to music. Everything from being in the drum line to being part of dance events. My upbringing was definitely quite interesting. My parents were going through a divorced and my mother wasn’t allowed to cross over to the US yet. So whenever my dad came back it always ended in fights. When that happened I use to either hide in my room or wait outside while using my dads MP3 player. Music was definitely a way for me to get out of that. Because of that, I remember wondering how all those tracks I was listening to were made, how some of the bands I listened to were able to express those raw emotions. After that, I ended up picking up the guitar and learning the basics and tried to recreate the same feeling many of the songs I heard expressed.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I initially started making beats ( like any other 14 year old) under the name “ESSENCE” on a pirated copy of FL STUDIOS but eventually started to fade out from that and focused more in instrumentals and eventually singing. It definitely wasn’t easy at first, I wasn’t able to afford any fancy gear so at first I started recording little one minute songs with my android phone. I used to record guitar and vocals with the phone’s mic and then emailed it to myself so I could then download that recording on my cheap ASUS laptop I got at Tepito Club ( If you’re from SD you probably know where that is haha) AND then used FL STUDIOS to add a bunch of chorus and mess with the pitch. I eventually started investing in better gear ( with the help of my mom) and began making music that was easier to listen too haha. After that, I released a couple songs on Soundcloud which surprisingly got some attraction. I ended up meeting a lot of people after who definitely help me throughout the way in mastering my music. Now, I haven’t had a major release since 2018 because of life events but before I start to release more music I decided I was going to release a compilation EP of songs that were created during that time to close that chapter and move on. The name of that EP is “HOME TAPES: 2016-2018” and it was released on December 14th, 2022. So what’s next? I’m working on new music which I’m really excited to share with the world! and I know it’s been awhile but I’m really hopeful for what the future is brining.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Man! There’s a lot of places I got to experience for the first time this past 3 years that I would definitely take them too. First place would be “Tea House On Los Rios” I went there for the first time with someone I really cared for and had some of the best food ever! Their scones and homemade jelly was amazing! Another place I really recommend is “Masa of Echo Park” one of the best deep dish pizzas I’ve had. Now another cool spot to check out that isn’t related to food would probably be Balboa Park in San Diego or the park next to the Silver Lake reservoir!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I honestly wanna shout out everyone I’ve met in my life. The good and the bad. All those experiences help me become who I am today.
But! there’s a handful of people who definitely inspired me and deserve all recognition. Mr. Paul Soultanakis, a man with many talents and definitely a big Inspo to push myself as a musician. Ms. Aislinn Kelly, another great musician and a master of the digital arts. Marina aka The Witching Hours, another amazing musician and a great soul. Calson aka Matthew Moreno, another great musician who’s soul and energy is just pure and inspiring. Ann and Chris, two people who I met and became like a 2nd family to me and lastly, I also wanna shoutout that someone who I really cherished and appreciate, they inspired me to be the best and really meant a lot to me, they were definitely a big part of my life and will always be.