We last spoke to Ray Quinn back in 2016, as he was about to set off on tour, ahead of a new album release. That album may never have eventuated, but there’s exciting times ahead for Ray and his fans, as his new album, ‘Undeniable’, is set to come out on May 29, and is available to pre-order here.
The first track from the album is a gorgeous big band cover of the Duffy classic, ‘Mercy’, which you can listen to here:
Lisa spoke to Ray a few days ago, and talked about life, music, and ‘Undeniable’.
Hi Ray! Lisa Hafey from Essentially Pop here!
Lovely to chat with you!
I know! After how long?!
I know! I was going to say, when we last spoke, you were about to go on tour and were about to release a new album! What happened to that one!
[Ray laughs] I was just saying before, that album was a pop album, and I was going through a bit of rebellion, getting tattoos, and doing a pop record – but it was a journey I had to take to get where I am today. I’m in my 30s, you seem to sort of go through different stages in your life, and know who you are and what you want, and I did a gig one time, “The Making Of” the old pop record, and I had to do swing, big band, classic songs – and the audience were incredible – I came out thinking, “that’s spun me head!” – it’s a Scouse saying – and I phoned my manager and said, that was one of my best gigs of the year so far, and he was like, really? I think we need a chat and go back to the drawing board. And that’s where we came up with the concept of this album. I’ve never felt more happy, more present, and more passionate about everything that’s been chosen over the past 12 months, and the recording, and the people on board. It was recorded in Liverpool, at Parr Street Recording Studios, there’s a 50 piece orchestra. I’ve gone back to what I know, I’m bringing Frank Sinatra into the 21st century, with a cocktail of songs, spanning four decades. I am so excited! It feels like the right time!
‘Undeniable’ is the name of the album, and it’s coming out in May – it’s covers plus a couple of brand new songs. Tell me about those songs? ‘They Say Love’, and ‘Smile’.
‘They Say Love’ is all about the confusion of what love should be. Like, “they say love is a loser’s game”, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s your perception. The confusion of how you find love, where you find love, is it real, does it feel right? It can be – but then it ends and you look back on it…it’s a journey of love, the process, and how it feels to you. There’s no right or wrong way of feeling love, or who loves who; how we come together, or how we meet. Love is love, we can’t fight it, it’s grown organically. It can hit you in the face straight away, or it could take a long time before you realise. Everybody’s different. So “They say love” is this or that, well it doesn’t have to be.
Exactly! Who is this “they” anyway! The only thing every love story has in common is love.
The whole album concept is about love. And ‘Smile’ is similar. It’s the inner awakening of it. You’re a bit unsure of why someone is smiling at you – is it for the right reasons – then halfway through the song and it’s back to first person, “now I can make you smile”, finally I get why you wanted to make me smile, so now I can make you smile. I can let go and give in to my anxieties, and it’s magical and wonderful. I just wanted it to be an open book for people to take what they want from it. Because music is down to personal taste. Everyone has their taste in music, I want to make music that everyone can relate to.
Did you write the songs?
I’ve co-written the new tracks. I came in with a few monologues of what I wanted to say, and I sat down with some other writers and we came up with the songs from what I gave them, and we hashed it all out. ‘Smile’ is just piano and strings, really stripped back, there’s a vulnerability, and I wanted to challenge myself as a singer. It’s been a long time since people have heard from me, a lot has changed, a lot has improved!
So how did you choose which songs to record, and how hard was it to decide which ones to include?
Oh gosh. Deciding was the hardest thing really! Some of them were my “guilty pleasures” – a lot are movie-based. I’m a Bond fan, so there’s a couple of “007-esque” tracks. I’ve been putting them all down on paper to see which ones fit, and how they flow, so people could press play and not lose interest. It was also about the artists, the ones I grew up listening to, their stories that I was inspired by – Andy Williams, Matt Monro, Leo Sayer, Neil Sedaka, The Walker Brothers, Tom Jones, so many tracks that I grew up with, and bringing it right through the decades – Duffy – she came out of nowhere and shocked the music industry, everyone was like, “what a voice” and she paved the way for me. Nowadays there’s no right or wrong genre, you can choose any type of music you like. So for me, it was just a matter of singing what felt right for me. With this new album, even down to the colours of the album, there’s so much thought put into it. Every artist that’s on there, they’re undeniable.
You’ve been in the entertainment business for – and this floored me when I read it – over twenty years! What’s been the best advice you’ve been given and what’s been the worst?
I’ve had loads of advice given to me over the years, for my acting, from actors, for my singing from vocal coaches and so on – but the best piece of advice ever given has been from my Dad. A lot of the album is based on listening to my Dad’s music growing up. He used to work away a lot, but when he came home we would listen to a lot of music. Even now, we’ll go to the pub and go back to his at 12, 1am, and put some of these songs on that we both love. My Mum and Dad come to all my gigs, and if I’ve done a good job, my Dad will tell me, and if I’ve not, he’ll also tell me. He’s always said to me, “practice makes perfect”, and “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. That’s stuck with me for so many years. When you put the hard work in, you get results. I’ve never left a space in my mind for failure.
What about the worst piece of advice?
I’ve never had a bad piece of advice! If I had I’ve probably forgotten it, but being a Scouser it’s more like growing up you’re very open and trusting, and sometimes in the past it’s tripped me up. You develop a sense of wariness in your life, and the industry, but you need to always make sure you’re nice – you’ve got to be nice to the ones on your way up so they’re nice to you on the way down. I’m all for being peaceful. You only live once!
If you right now where you are, could talk to Ray starting out, what would you say to that young fella back then?
Wow. That’s a tough question!
We’re only here for the tough questions Ray!!
I guess it’d be what I’d say to my own lad. If you find something you love, go for it, and take that chance, because it’s only the chances you don’t take that you regret. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes! Don’t be afraid of embracing them and moving forward and bettering yourself. It’s better to build the boy than repair the broken man. Follow that dream – don’t let anyone else tell you any different. You’ll always have the people you love behind you – they’re there from the beginning and they know who you are. Create positivity you’ll attract it.
What’s your top three tracks on your playlist right now?
Well – I’ve always loved my country music! At the moment I absolutely love Blake Shelton’s ‘I’ll Name The Dogs’. It’s what I’d like to see for myself – a loving family, “let’s buy a house, you name the babies, and I’ll name the dogs”.
I’m a big fan of Jax Jones, he’s done a song with Ella Henderson, another one from the X Factory, I think she’s got a superb voice. I’m a big fan of that song. It took me back to the nineties, when we used to record the UK top 40 hits, you hit record and pause when the DJ spoke.
What else have I got – I’m just looking a Spotify now. I love this track by Keisha Renee, from The Voice. She recorded a song called, ‘I Hope You Dance’. I’m a dancer. I’ve been dancing since I was 3, I’ve done disco, I moved onto Latin and Ballroom when I was bit older, I’ve done ballet, jazz, you name it. My wife and I love playing tunes at home, and Friday night is our date night, and we always say no matter what, we can dance through life. There’s a line in the song that says, “I hope you dance the night away, because you deserve it”. Her voice is so powerful. I’ve told my manager that we should get her over for the next album.
I’m also really enjoying Dan And Shay (with Justin Bieber) singing ‘10,000 Hours’:
I’m really looking forward to releasing this album. It’s been a fabulous twelve months creating it, I’m very very proud of it, all the songs are chosen by me, the band is incredible. To me it’s Undeniable.
So Undeniable is out in May, are you going to tour the album?
There is a chance of touring, I’ve got my website up live, all the info is going on there. Just when is the question. I can’t wait for people to hear it all! I think I’ll be the first one to buy it!