Northampton rapper Ray Gemini has been on some downtime recently, with sporadic releases. That’s all changing in 2021 though, as ‘Fully Loaded’ hits home hard. New Boots went in search of answers.
New Boots: Hi Ray. How and when did you start making music?
Ray Gemini: Hi thanks for all this, I really appreciate it. I was exposed to music from an early age as my Mum was a singer-songwriter, and my Dad was an MC. My mum used to take me to her recording sessions, and gigs from time to time until I was around 13. My Uncle Robert had decks, and all his friends used to come round playing early sidewinder sets or MCing so I was introduced to that side of things which got me in to writing lyrics. I wrote my first bars when I was 12, but it wasn’t until I was 14 that me and few of other boys formed a grime group called Sniper Division. I went by a different name back then; Reaper, or Reapz for short. From around 2004-2008 we were running sets, releasing tunes, and performing locally opening for acts like Wiley, Jammer, Ice Kid, D Double E and others. Things kind of just died down from that point, but I always continued to write lyrics. 2009 I started a music tech course in college which is where I created “Ray Gemini”. I took a different path, and was more focused on songwriting as my interest for instruments grew. Acoustic guitar and keyboard became my new favourite things, and I wanted to test myself in a different way. I met Harlz in 2014 and we hit it off right away. After a lot of deliberation in early 2017 I started working on the foundations for my first song as Ray Gemini, which later developed into [debut single] ‘Truth’.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
I like to think my music is a reflection of myself. There’s not a right or wrong way to make music, but relatable music hits different even if it’s not the most popular. The best way to describe my sound I’d say is that it’s personal to me. I’ve got many styles and variations, which upcoming releases will certainly showcase. MJ was my first musical influence without question! I wanted to be MJ so bad growing up, haha. Jay-Z (The Goat), Biggie, 2Pac, and Nas are the obvious choices from a rap perspective Probably the four rappers I was introduced to as far back as I can remember, along with Diddy and the artists under Bad Boy. I was obsessed with Dr Dre’s 2001 album and The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem. Busta Rhymes was a huge influence for me also. I’d probably credit him highly in terms of how I like to switch my flows often when I rap. I did a freestyle in 2019 called ‘Allstar over the Put your hands where my eyes could see instrumental’, as I just wanted to have fun and pay homage in my own way. Being introduced to many genres growing up I hope to be able to take bits from it all, and create something super.
How do you feel you’ve developed since 2017 and ‘Truth’?
‘Truth’ will always be my favourite tune. Basic in its own right, but I just needed to release it there. And then otherwise I wouldn’t be making music now. I had so many people on my case asking me to get back on music around that time, but I just had different interests. I loved songwriting but didn’t want to release my own. After a good conversation with my friend Liam, and a lot of persuasion from Harlz it was go time. I have a better understanding on my craft now; I feel that’s the difference. I enjoyed making songs like ‘Setting The Trend, and ‘On The Way Up’. But I feel they were tunes other people wanted to hear, rather than what I wanted to do. We were focused on making songs that could get played by DJs and looking for a quick fix, but tunes like ‘Truth’, and ‘Rays Gonna Ray’ are true reflections of myself. ‘Truth’ will be a constant reminder of where I started, which is why it’s so powerful to me. I don’t like to be categorised or placed in a box, so my songs will differ. I have my confidence back, which is so vital because along the way I lost that. My songs are the many thoughts of Raven, interpreted by Ray Gemini.
Tell us about this new Harlz-produced release, ‘Fully Loaded’.
Harlz sent me the beat back in March 2020. It was wild because I was going through some serious writers block at the time and it’s like he just knew what I needed. He told me to check my emails, so I listened to it non-stop for half hour before replying. Instantly I knew what direction I wanted to take this in. The hook kind of just populated in my memo pad before I knew it. I realised this is the impact tune I needed to get my point across. Re-energised, confident, and absolutely ready to make music consistently again.
Has there been any live appearances yet? Any plans for that?
I think it’s actually been three years since my last proper live performance. So I’m looking forward to getting the opportunities in future, and will my utmost to earn them for sure.
Has lockdown been good or bad for your creativity?
Lockdown allowed me to fully concentrate, so it’s like I have to be grateful in that sense. I put together a home studio and just kept busy. My debut EP ‘Rays Gonna Ray’ is pretty much complete. So it’s time to generate some momentum in preparation for that. I feel like I’m starting again; reminding people of what I can do. But first I had to remind myself.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I purchased Debe The Last Breath. Got to support the locals.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I’ve had a lot of setbacks. I’d like to get through this year with a few releases followed by my EP, and really build from there. I’ll be 30 in June. I can’t let my age define me. Certain people will have you think it’s crazy to chase a music career at this stage and, and negative thoughts can creep in. Finding balance has been a big obstacle. Trying to fund everything isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding to see the outcome. I’m hungry, and just want to experience as much as I can. Get my music out to wider audience, and soak it all in. I have plans to get back into songwriting, as I feel I have a lot to offer. I hope I can build a team of like-minded people to enjoy the experience with.
‘Fully Loaded’ by Ray Gemini is out now via the usual digital platforms