[INTERVIEW] Ray Volpe Discusses New Single 'HAPPY SONG', Rise to Success, + More

Ray Volpe

| June 15, 2023

Over the past couple of years, American bass music producer Ray Volpe has managed to catapult himself into international stardom as a result of his consistent work ethic and the release of his hit-single, “Laserbeam”.

After his explosive growth, Ray Volpe embarked on a headline tour, played major festivals including EDC Las Vegas 2023, was recognized as “Best New Artist” by the Electronic Dance Music Awards, and received support from giants such as Skrillex and Marshmello. Volpe’s latest release with Monstercat, “HAPPY SONG”, is an infectious teaser to his upcoming EP, VOLPETRON ASCENDS.

In this exclusive interview, Ray Volpe discusses the inspiration behind “HAPPY SONG”, adjusting to major career growth, his relationship with his loyal fanbase, and more.

Check out iEDM’s exclusive interview with Ray Volpe below.

Ray Volpe, "HAPPY SONG"

iEDM: Your new single “HAPPY SONG”, surely provokes different emotions and imaginations in separate ways for everyone who listens. What do you imagine when listening to your new track?

Ray Volpe: There’s something fun/interesting about the idea that people get really excited to hear the craziest and heaviest drops in bass music. It’s such a conflicting idea because you see people jump out of their chairs with excitement when a drop has some insane flows or dark sound design.

This plays on that. I also kind of look at it as an “anger outlet” - a track to take out any aggression on and feel happy to let it out. It’s definitely one of my heaviest songs, which I’m also super happy to say haha. 

iEDM: What tips would you give to rising artists in the bass scene in regard to crafting drops that keep the audience on the edge of their seats and engaged? What alterations were made between the two drops in “HAPPY SONG”?

Ray Volpe: I think it’s really important to find a main idea or motif that can carry throughout a drop, but having some type of switch every 4 bars or 8 bars to keep it fresh enough to not feel overly repetitive or boring. That can be as simple as the drums dropping out for a bar, or having a new sustain or slight flow switch. Little things like that go a long way.

As for differentiating the drops, I knew I wanted to change the flow and rely less on the little plucky bass melody that was so prominent in the first drop. After that, it became clear to do a little fast four-on-the-floor switch to keep the energy up, but also to switch right back to halftime before it got too far so I can keep stimulating y’alls brains and make you guess where it’s going next!

It also then doesn’t become a standard dubstep 1st drop, speed house-y four on the floor whatever 2nd drop (idk sub genres LOL) type which I and many others have done in the past. Constant switch ups to keep it moving! 

 

iEDM: What production element in “HAPPY SONG” pushed you the most out of your comfort zone and why? 

Ray Volpe: I’d say the plucky bass melody that the first drop introduces is the most recognizable in the song. It’s actually used with frequency shifter by accident, I have used draw mode on each note and set it to a random value which led to an interesting melody to be defined. It’s probably off by a few cents on each note but that’s fine I think it adds to the jarring nature of the sound.

Once the drop actually kicks in (after the “Drop it” sample) the frequency shifter turns off and I recreate the sound and melody with a normal plucky bass at that point so it’s easier on the ears.

Ray Volpe, "HAPPY SONG"

iEDM: How does the overall vibe of the “HAPPY SONG” align with its encompassing label, Monstercat Uncaged? How does “HAPPY SONG” fit into the experience of your upcoming EP, VOLPETRON ASCENDS?

Ray Volpe: “HAPPY SONG” sets the tone for what’s to come. I think I look at this as a “hey, I’m here, not fucking around, and am here to stay” moment. It’s very much a statement of me being dead set on continuing down the path of trying to be the best artist I can be, and not be stuck behind one song blowing up for me and defining who I am.

 

iEDM: As an artist who already bolstered a cult-following prior to “Laserbeam”, have you felt any pressure to shift your sound to mirror that of your most popular track? Do you face an inner conflict of pleasing the masses versus your original fanbase?

Ray Volpe: I definitely feel pressure, but the pressure is to not let y’all down more than anything else. I’ve gotten a lot of imposter syndrome since it’s all happened. Just feeling like I can’t keep making good music, feeling drained from the influx of touring, and other projects. It pulls me out creatively.

I know it can be easy to get in your own head about “one upping” or “following up” after having such a massive song like “Laserbeam” was - but that I’m at peace with. That song made a bubble, and a massive one at that. All I can do now is continue making the best music I can which will in turn create other bubbles that co-exist next to each other. Some bigger than others.

I don’t feel any pressure to change sound, I feel like “Laserbeam” actually fits pretty well within the rest of my discography, I’ve always made very “commercial sounding” bass music, at least in my opinion. Like I’m kind of a digestible bass act for someone that maybe never listened to bass music in their life.

Compared to someone that maybe makes crazy dark tearout and they’d need to take a few more steps before listening to that coming from a world like pop or something haha. I’m overall super grateful to have a fanbase that is so widely accepting of whatever style I want to make, whether it’s dubstep, bass house, or a full melodic record even.  

iEDM: People tend to associate bass music with strong emotional connections less often than other genres, due to the shortage of lyrics. What do you hope fans feel in reaction to your music?

Ray Volpe: I actually disagree with this. I feel like maybe fans of other genres in EDM will see it that way, which I understand from the outside looking in. It’s confusing to hear a song with no lyrics and try to establish a connection.

That said, bass music is very similar to the metal/punk scenes. We’re all a bunch of emo kids that are letting out our emotions via headbanging or moshing at a show (be safe y’all take care of each other!) or letting out emotion via a song.

I think connections are pulled from how the sounds are making us feel. People in general get stressed out in life, and need an outlet to let loose and have fun. I think bass music really allows that to happen.

When listening to my music, I hope fans feel whatever they need at that moment, whether it’s a space to cry or feel empowered or feel angry… hell I hope my music makes them really happy (get it?!). I also write a lot of my music straight out of my heart, I think my fans have picked up on that along the way which creates a stronger connection too. 

Ray Volpe, "HAPPY SONG"

iEDM: You have had massive success in producing bass music over the past several years. Do you see yourself experimenting with any other genres in the future?

Ray Volpe: Yeah of course! On VOLPETRON ASCENDS there will be a fully melodic dubstep record with zero heaviness in it at all that I’m really excited about. Within bass music I feel like I go all over the place.

I already do a lot of fully melodic songs like my recent song “Meant To Be Lonely” with Donna Tella. It’s a very emotional song that I hold close to my heart. I also make a lot of pop punk/pop rock stuff in my free time that you’ll definitely hear eventually, fused into bass stuff probably. I also make a lot of more vocal-y stuff that is slower too and more emotional that’ll probably never see the light of day.

I’ve been singing on my songs since 2016, I think “Feeling This Way” is a really good example of the range where I sing, have melodic drops and heavy drops alike. I like to fuse everything I’m into. I’m sure all of the ideas will end up in final songs one way or another.

Aside from that, I make random tech house stuff for fun which I think gets played sometimes by my house-ier friends like Valentino Khan, 4B, GoodTimesAhead, etc but no one knows they’re mine haha I just make them for fun.  

iEDM: Over the past year, you have added many impressive bullet points to your repertoire, including having the most-played track at EDC LV 2022, a Marshmello collaboration, support from Skrillex, awarded “Best New Artist” at the Electronic Dance Music Awards, and 16 major festival bookings. What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career thus far and what is its significance to you?

Ray Volpe: It’s SO hard to pick just one. I think on a surface level, the first thing that jumps to me is Skrillex. I wouldn’t say it’s the most significant in terms of long-term planning out my career and what that does for me, but on a personal level, it really made my entire year.

I’ve looked up to him since I started making music in 2010. I have always wondered if the day would come where he’d support my music. I honestly never thought it would happen. It was a total shock for me. I am still freaking out about it haha.

On a deeper level, I think my most proud moment so far is actually playing EDC LV 2023 for the first time ever. I was crying up there, and I think it was the first time this all really sunk in. I’ve been in “go” mode - just like the fast forward button in The Sims. I haven’t really been able to digest everything that’s been going on in my life and career.

But up there, in front of everyone, after the song was so massive at EDC LV just a year before, and to finally live the dream I’ve always wanted to… it finally hit me. I finally felt like I stopped hitting fast forward and just hit play in normal speed. In real time. I was completely floored. I am so happy that I finally got here. I won’t ever take it for granted. 

 

iEDM: What has been your most interesting or impactful interaction with a fan?

Ray Volpe: There’s a girl that saw me after playing an art car at Beyond Wonderland 2021, this was pre-Laserbeam, pre-massive growth. She saw me and yelled my name and instantly started bawling her eyes out. I hopped off the boat-stage thing and ran over to her.

She told me her story, of being depressed, and eventually suicidal. She told me how my music, specifically, pulled her out. I didn’t even know what to say at first. I never had someone confide in me with such personal details without actually knowing me, I felt so lucky to be able to make an impact on her and I felt so thankful to have helped her when she needed it most, without me knowing it myself.

I had a great time talking to her. I see her at my shows in Arizona every year now. It’s always good to hear from her. She keeps me updated from time to time, I'm really glad she’s healthy and alive. I am always happy to see her and hear how she’s doing. I think about it all the time. 

 

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iEDM: You have had an extremely busy year. How do you manage to stay mentally and physically healthy throughout the chaos of touring?

Ray Volpe: In full honesty… I don’t LOL. I need to, but I am so bad at it. I usually walk every day, twice a day, for forty five minutes per walk. But lately I’ve been so drained and busy with other tasks that I can’t get myself to do it. I need one of those indoor apartment treadmills or something haha.

I eat like shit and get not enough sleep. I am the poster child of what not to do actually. Whatever the next artist says though when you ask… do that. Listen to them. Someone help me LOL. This is my first year of having such a packed schedule of constant touring and other musical opportunities that I'm still adjusting to it. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it eventually though.

That said… therapy is great and important. I found someone that understands the music scene and has worked with musicians before and it makes all the difference. Therapy is key to keeping strong mental health. But even then, physical and mental health are linked so one being bad is just prepping the other to get worse. This question now is pushing me to make sure I keep up with my walks. Thank you iEDM. Y’all are saving me over here!!!

Ray Volpe, "HAPPY SONG"

iEDM: As someone in their 20s, this generation was commonly introduced to dubstep in their formative years, with the likes of Skrillex, Flux Pavilion, Zomboy, and several others. Was this part of your journey in finding a love for bass music? Do you see being able to follow in their footsteps as an advantage, or is it increasingly difficult to set yourself apart in a more saturated scene?

Ray Volpe: They are all massive inspirations to my project. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for artists like them. I absolutely fell in love with it due to them and tons of others. I think it’s getting harder to stand out for sure.

There’s a lot more resources available that weren't around back then; Patreon, Masterclass, Splice. Those make a huge difference. Someone who has made music for a year back in 2010 versus someone who has made music for a year in today’s world would sound so different. Today they’d sound much further along.

I think there’s a huge advantage with social media though, and not enough people take advantage of it. I think it’s such a powerful machine to market yourself to where you want to be, but it’s up to you to do that. It’s extra work, but that extra work will reward you in the end. Without that, you’re just another artist. Social media and a brand will help make you stick out.

 

iEDM: Your well-deserved rise to success has been fantastic to witness. How are you feeling as a result of this newfound recognition? What goals do you hope to achieve in 2023?

Ray Volpe: It feels surreal. Like I was saying earlier, it honestly only just hit me last weekend (at the time of this interview we’re a few weeks removed from EDC LV where everything really finally clocked me in the jaw and I’m like wow this is happening haha). I feel really grateful, really excited. There’s a lot of wonder in my eyes and heart about this as if I just started.

I love music more than ever. With it comes some anxiety naturally about what to do next but I feel like those that follow me on this journey will take whatever step I choose to take with confidence and fully support me on it. For that, I am forever thankful.

My goals for this year I think involve getting some later festival slots, I’d love to play “Laserbeam” at night with lasers and have the full experience. I’ve been able to do it a few times now and it’s been such a fun time for me.

Aside from that, I think a huge goal for me would be to play Ultra. That’d have to be 2024 or 2025 thing though. The first time I ever stepped foot on a festival ground was Ultra 2017 when Getter brought me out on the Worldwide Stage to perform our collab. Playing that stage myself someday would be a full circle moment to where a lot of this all began for me. 

 

Check out Ray Volpe HERE!

 

Photos courtesy of Ray Volpe

 

Read more iEDM Exclusive Interviews HERE!

 

Check out iEDM's Review of EDC Las Vegas 2023 HERE!   

Paije Kantor

PAIJE KANTOR

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Native to Long Beach, California, Paije has been in love with dance music since childhood, which blossomed into a love for its community and events later on. Over time, she has become a dedicated fan of all EDM subgenres, with a special affinity for industrial and melodic techno, dubstep and riddim, electro house and trance, and DnB.

Paije recently graduated with a B.S. in geology and paleontology and spends her free time searching for new additions to her collection of playlists, watching history documentaries, researching obscure topics, and attempting to keep up with her husky’s energy.

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