Performing in the Sunshine State for the first time since the 2017 Gympie Music Muster, singer-songwriter, Dean Ray, returns to Queensland this month to perform at North Lakes Sports Club.
Bursting into lounge rooms and onto airwaves after being crowned runner-up of Australia’s ‘X-Factor’ in 2014, that same year Dean’s debut single ‘Coming Back’ hit No. 1 on the iTunes Singles Chart reaching Platinum status, with his debut self-titled album certified Gold.
Uncomfortable with the pop persona promoted by Sony Music, in October 2017, Dean clapped back with ‘The Messenger’, a nine-track independent release of all original material bankrolled in part by crowd-funding through GoFundMe.
“Making ‘The Messenger’ was something I really wanted to do at the time, and I’m glad I did because it was an introduction to the real me,” says Dean. “I didn’t want to release a pop record, I wanted to release a real, earthy, organic album.”
Growing up in tiny Meandarra, Queensland, Dean spent his childhood sleeping in guitar cases while his parents performed around Australia on the country music circuit. It comes as no surprise that this upbringing has infiltrated Dean’s psyche, with Rolling Stone saying of ‘The Messenger’, “Ray delivers a set that’s steeped in Australiana and affecting story-telling… The down-on-his-luck outlaw rocker motif isn’t new, but Ray’s talent turns it upside down with terrific verve.”
“I don’t know what my genre is,” says Dean. “I have no idea what pocket I would sit in. My music primarily sits around indie folk, rock, alt-country and blues, and it’s all kind of meshed in together. I don’t think you could categorise it because there’s too many styles floating around.”
Following the release of ‘The Messenger’, Dean embarked on a five month national tour before pulling up stumps in Sydney, getting a job in construction, and apart from the occasional jam session on stage (most recently with Kasey Chambers), letting his spirit gently sing.
“I’ve been in the studio for the past six months writing heaps of songs, and I’ve written eight to ten that I really like. I’m probably not going to release an album again, I’ll just release songs after song. I’ve got four songs ready to go now that we’ll start releasing.”
Dean’s latest single - a cover of Australian folktronica singer-songwriter Vera Blue’s ‘Lady Powers’ - was inspired by his love of western music.
“I like the kind of music you expect to hear seeing someone riding through the canyons,” explains Dean. “I was sitting down listening to ‘Lady Powers’ one night, and I could hear all this western music, and I really liked the vocal take and the delivery in that song, and the production of it was really cool.”
Produced and recorded by Dean in his own studio, ‘Lady Powers’ is the result of ten years spent learning and honing the art of music production.
“I’ve worked in top of the line studios and I’ve worked in studios where the walls have had holes kicked out of them, and you can pull a great sound from both - you’ve just got to know what you’re doing,” says Dean. “I’m finally starting to pull a really good sound, and my next singles will be produced in my studio also.”
Performing as a three-piece at North Lakes Sports Club, Dean will be joined on stage by local Brisbane musicians Andy Toombs (bass) and Isaac Leong Loon (drums).
“We’ll play one set straight through,” says Dean. “The set will be mostly music off ‘The Messenger’, and I’m going to throw in some other tunes as well. Songs I really like. Songs that I enjoy playing in a three-piece.
“I enjoy making music and playing it, and that’s the only reason I haven’t stopped yet. I friggin’ love it, I need it, and I’ll always do it.”
Where: North Lakes Sports Club
Date: Friday 17th August
Time: From 9pm. Doors open 6pm