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Freedom Requires Wings FRW The #1 QUILTBAG opinion blog on the web. We aim to open minds and help the queer community. News, blogs, video, worldwide suicide prevention and more. Worldwide

EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With Singer-Songwriter Ray Isaac - "Who I Am"

Freedom Requires Wings | by on




If you’ve been to London Pride, some of the after parties, or if you’re just a general gay-party-goer, the chances are you’ve probably been in the presence of Ray Isaac, singer, songwriter and DJ. But after seeing Ray do all of these things in one concert and seen the crowd go wild, I've come to the conclusion that Ray is so much more, he’s a performer.

Recently promoted as a VEVO artist on YouTube, having been invited to mix with Laurent Wolf late last year, and with concerts coming up all the time, Ray is going from strength to strength and is certainly, without a doubt, an artist to look out for in the near future, not just in London but around the world.

Ray stands by his belief that no matter what, we have to be proud of who we are and know that happiness only manifests itself when we truly love and accept who we are from deep within, and this is why I've taken my chance to share his story with you so you can discover his upcoming album and new music video for “Who I Am” (see below).

What’s your background, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Australia, my family was born in Lebanon, and I currently live in London.

Did you have any role models, gay or straight, when you were younger? Who inspired you?

Oh, I don't know if she's a positive role-model because she was over-sexualized, but I absolutely loved Madonna, and I've always loved her, and I think if I described her from a positive light I'd say as a role model her confidence, her attitude to not give a sh*t what anyone thinks definitely inspired me. But other role-models would be my parents. My values, respect, love and how I treat others has come from my mummy and daddy, my grandparents and my family as a whole. They have definitely made a difference in who I am as an adult now.

Where does your inspiration come from today?

Ah. It's such a hard question when people ask me that. Trends come and go and trends keep changing, so I guess I could say I love certain artists who stand for the same things as me. I may not sound like them, but Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, Pink, Brian McKnight (I love his angelic voice as he heals me), it's more the strong figures and tough, I-don't-give-a-damn attitudes that attract me.

When did you decide to be a singer-songwriter, and when did activism come into the mix? Has it always been a passion of yours?

I've always had a deep love, empathy and sympathy for minority groups who are treated differently because I know how it feels to be an outcast and i have endured some suffering when i was bullied. I have evolved so much and because of my experiences I empathise with other groups and communities who have been ostracised and who have suffered. I am particularly a huge supporter of animal rights, I am a proud vegan, Equal rights, Gay community, Transgender community, Black people, Jewish people, Anti-Bullying Organisations, Trafficking Help and many more. For me its all about helping women and any minority groups who are persecuted for just being who they are! I guess this passion started about 4 years ago when I became a vegan because it all ties in together. Love for all creatures and ending suffering of all living beings!

I've wanted to be a singer since I was 5 years old, dancing to Kylie and Madonna, as a child because pop music is what I love! Singing and dancing have always been in my blood. I started doing it when i was 14 years old publicly, it's what I wanted to do, but everyone wanted to hold me back from it because it wasn't the typical "masculine" to do for a boy, but I rebelled and I'm still rebelling to this day.

What message do you try to convey through your music, and is it aimed at anyone in particular?

Empowerment, the importance of self-worth, self-love and self acceptance, not giving a damn what people think. Wanting to release stress and party by just dancing because all of these things are true to me in my life. I wrote these songs when I was going through heartache and pain so that was my outlet for letting it all go like the strong character i imagined my self to be. Now, I am that character, finally, but I'm also that boy who needs to go out and dance- and love and be loved! I haven't fallen in love yet, but I write about how it would feel when it happens, so hopefully people can identify with me on some level.

Which one of your songs means the most to you and why?

"Heal Your Scars" and "Who I Am" because they were both written in the same week at a time when I was quite religious and i decided to cut it off because I realized that it wasn't doing me any good and during that time I rebelled a lot. I was meeting people from all walks of life including people from the sex industry because I was rebelling and wanted to give people a chance. I'm semi-psychic in a sense and my intuition's quite good. I was meeting all these people and could see that even though on the outside they were all tough and rough and had that strong personality and attitude that I longed to have, I could feel their pain deep-down and knew that they were suffering from what they'd gone through. I wanted to heal their scars with my love so they wouldn't work in the sex industry anymore, basically that's what that song's about. It was at a time when I woke up three years ago, and that's why I love "Heal Your Scars" and "Who I Am".

What’s “Who I Am” about?

Who I Am is about loving who you are. It was when i came to the realisation that the only way I am going to be happy with myself and not care what people think about me is when I finally find happiness because I’m proud and I love who I am. Not other people's love and acceptance of me, but my own, it's about you being proud of who you are. That's when you'll finally find happiness.

If you could say one thing to a young gay teen who’s going through a lot of emotional stress or rejection by their family right now, what would it be?

Each situation is different because some kids might have religious pressures, and some religions condone murdering people who are gay or transgender. I can't just sit there and say "oh, just fight them", it's hard. The one thing I can say is one thing a friend told me a few years ago: if you keep knocking on the same doors in the same street in that same neighbourhood and they keep shutting the doors because they don't accept you, then you need to move out of that neighbourhood and go to a neighbourhood where the doors will be open because there's always a neighbourhood that will accept you. I took that on board in my life because I come from a middle-eastern background and I also come from an area that's quite narrow minded in Australia. I decided to move to London and that's where I found that the doors opened. What would I say to a child? Be patient and learn to love yourself and accept yourself for who you are. Even if you can't convince your family that who you are is perfect, as long as you can find it within yourself, one day you will be free. In time. You have to be patient.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?

I hope to be in the top 10 commercial charts, touring and healing people with my music in concerts.

What are some of your upcoming projects?

In summer this year I have a small role in an American film called "East Side Story" which stars all the winners of "So You Think You Can Dance" in America and Canada. I've also got 5 songs in the film, so that's amazing wonderful news to come. I'm performing at NYC, Boston and Washington Prides. My music video [Who I Am] has just come out.

The album "Who I Am" is available on iTunes now. Ray’s music will also be featured in the new dance film ‘East Side Story’ written and directed by the original ‘West Side Story’ actor, David Winters. Ray also plays a small role in the film as well as performing the theme song and five of the featured tracks. The film will be released in cinemas in summer 2014.
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