Ray Volpe, American DJ and producer, is back with his new EP. Continuing on his previous work No Emotion Allowed, Volpe showed his other, emotional side, providing two bangers - "Without You" and "Worth A Try." Experimenting with different sounds and influences, Volpe had all the right tricks to make this release a special one. We caught up with him to hear all about it.
EDM.com: Your new EP All Emotion Allowed is here. As everyone's getting hyped about it, can you tell us more about it? It seems like in this one you really pushed your boundaries and left your comfort zone to create something new and different.
Ray: While I really love the "Sad Dubstep Boy" persona that I’ve taken on over the years, I’ve always enjoyed making all kinds of music. In the beginning, I was making a mid-tempo and electro house! I’m always messing around in Ableton when I’m having writer’s block, making things other than dubstep or any heavy bass music stuff overall. Melodies are constantly running through my mind, and I’ve got a lot of stories to tell with them.
All Emotion Allowed is not just a music release but a piece of art that tells a story. What made you create something like this, and what's behind the story in songs?
I’ve always had the idea to do some sort of complete flip from my usual sound, but it was a matter of how to pull it off the right way. That’s why I flipped everything on its head from No Emotion Allowed and brought everything that it didn’t have to this release. "Without You" tells a story of a breakup; leaving the boy feeling hopeless without her. Meanwhile, we have a rather understanding view from the girl, who obviously cares, but not in the way he wished it to be. It’s not your average love story gone wrong. There’s actual substance between the two, it’s a complex situation. They love each other, they’re meant to be in each other’s lives, but not in the way they had originally thought.
"Worth a Try" is on the other side of the spectrum, with a girl fighting for the one that she loves. She believes in what she’s built with her significant other. Going through issues, big or small, doesn’t automatically have to mean the end. There are optimism and hope for their future. There’s such a strong urge to fix things, even by saying "all we need is good enough," showing some potential desperation in making things work. Giving things another shot, believing it's worth a try.
This time you went an extra mile with lyrics. How important are lyrics for you, and how much were you personally involved in lyrics on the EP?
Lyrics are incredibly important to me, they can make or break a song, in my opinion. Not all songs need them, but those that do should have some sort of meaning. Whether that means they should be deep or intentionally silly and easy to swallow, there needs to be some sort of intent. I wrote the hook for "Without You," and actually sang on it originally, before ultimately having Devin replace my vocals to fill the emo-sound I was going for a bit more naturally. Shoutout to my incredible friend and engineer Randy Urbanski for finding him for me when deciding to drop out from the song.
As for Lydia’s incredible verse after the "drop" - I sent her a pretty specific guide of what I was looking for, which I explained to you earlier. I wanted it to be the girl’s point of view, with sympathy for the boy, yet making it clear that this is what she needed to do for herself, and that she still cared for him. Lydia and her writing partner Luke nailed that, perfectly. I have a lot of personal attachment to "Without You," it parallels part of my recent life, so letting my vocals go on this one actually hurt quite a bit, but I think it benefited the song in the end. Maybe the original demo will surface someday.
As for "Worth a Try" - I let Aviella do her own thing on it, this was the first version she sent. It was perfect, in every way. It was a coincidence for her to go into a similar direction to what I was looking for on this, and it honestly worked out perfectly.
The new release is kinda opposite of the previous EP. How do you look at their connection? Do you see them as different sides of the same coin, or as a total opposite?
I totally see them as different sides of the same coin. That coin is me, it’s Ray Volpe. There’s the heavy dancefloor anthem side and the emo feelsy side. I’m capable of making many different styles. It’s a dangerous move, I think. A lot of newer developing acts that blow up do so by settling into something familiar to them. They stick to one thing, or one sound, so people can instantly recognize and can fit easier into that demographic/fanbase that they’ve built for themselves. And that’s fantastic, I respect it, but I personally don’t want to be pigeonholed.
I don’t want a ceiling above me. I want to be able to dive into so many different possibilities. I think in doing so, it might take me a bit longer to get to where I want to be, but that’s okay with me because I’ll always be staying true to myself that and making what I feel in the moment. I’m lucky enough to be growing inside of an amazing and accepting community of people that support what I do no matter what the sound may be.
Apart from your own tracks, you're also known for your remixes. Among others, you had a chance to offer your renditions of songs from Marshmello, The Chainsmokers, and my favorite - Delta Heavy. How do you approach the remix depending on the genre of the original song, and what are you looking for in a song to take a shot on it?
I’m glad you like the Delta Heavy one! I had so much fun with that one. With my remixes, I try to go about it in a “how would I have made this” type of way. Similar to when you see those YouTube videos of songs in styles of other artists. When a friend hits me up to remix a song, or I get approached by a label, I usually just look for catchiness in the music, something that would be fun to work with and that could go off at my shows.
I try to just use the acapella from the original stems, and then I’ll recreate the melody or use a MIDI if included, but with my own sounds. From there, I try and flip it in some way to make it heavy, or a super vibey-in-your-feelsesque version like with the Delta Heavy one. The Chainsmokers remix I did of "Sick Boy" is essentially a completely opposite version of the original, going with a much darker/evil vibe than what was displayed in the original. I only ever remix songs I really, really enjoy, though. I should mention that. That’s important to me.
At this very moment, what are your favorite tracks to play in your sets? What would you say it's your biggest track at the shows?
Oh, this is so difficult. I put a lot of work into my sets so I’d like to say the entire thing is my equal eternal favorite, but I’ll play ball. I love playing any of the classics/throwbacks like "Misery Business" by Paramore or "Take On Me" by A-ha. As for my tunes though, playing "Showtime" to start the night is an incredible feeling and always has an awesome reaction. Then, ending my sets with "Programmed to Love" paired up with the vocals from "Cinema" by Benny Benassi is a no-brainer, such an incredible and emotional time for everyone in the room.
One last - I know there's no better party than Ray Volpe's Sad Dubstep Kids on the whole wide world of Facebook. Would you agree?
HELL YEAH, I AGREE - COME HANG OUT AND SEE FOR YOURSELF BROTHER! <3