By Kate Ferguson
Photos by Bliss Kaufman
I first came across the music of Ray Dalton on Spotify and instantly saved his song “If You Fall.” (Which has reached nearly 20 million streams on the platform.) The song is soulful, inspiring, and upbeat all at once. After listening to it a dozen times or so, I went on a search for more music from the artist, which then led to this interview.
Ray Dalton initially gained prominence back in 2011 as the co-writer and featured singer on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us,” which was released as a single in 2013 and subsequently went platinum, as well as gained a Grammy nomination. The singer/songwriter is based in Seattle, where he’s writing and creating as a solo artist.
I caught up with Ray Dalton about that process, as well as his current inspirations and motivations in his work.
First off, tell me a bit about how you got started in music!
I started singing in the car with my mom. She wasn’t a singer, but she loved music and singing at the top of her lungs regardless of the sound that came out. Haha! My dad is the same way. With that said, I sang in children’s chorus when I was little, and then around 16 I joined the Total Experience Gospel choir which changed my life.
At what point did it turn into a career? Was that always a plan of yours?
I starting writing hooks for some of the rappers in Seattle. The idea was to have someone notice me, and then launch a career of my own. I’ve always wanted to sing and see the world through music. So yes, singing or a professional tennis player were my dreams.
Tell me about your songwriting process.
I hear melodies in my head all the time. I could be taking a shower and it can hit me. Then I’ll add the lyrics. It’s the same for me when I hear a beat that a producer made or a riff on the piano or guitar.
You’re based in Seattle, right? What has the music experience been like there?
Yes, Seattle is home for me. It’s been more of a place for training and growth personally.
I listen to “If I Fall” at the gym a lot. It feels really empowering. I’m interested to hear what it means to you and about the experience of creating the song.
Hell yeah! It’s me crying and pleading how POWERFUL my love is. I truly give my whole self with love in everything I do – It’s all I’m about. I wrote “If You Fall” about someone who never fully understood how much I could love them.
What inspires you?
Love. My best friends. Tennis. Venus and Serena Williams. Roger Federer. Athletes. The forest. Traveling, and being in water.
What motivates you?
My little sister Veronica. We’ve been through a lot. I’m very competitive as well, it’s in everything I do. I hate to lose, so I try to do my very best. My family. My personal connection with God. Serena Williams. My managers at Moniker Music Group. They always push me to be free and understand/see the vision of what Ray Dalton will be.
Do you deal with any fear as a creative?
No, not really. Just that I can’t always express what’s in my head clearly, but I work in that every day. Ask my managers Josh and Katie…Hahah.
What are you currently reading, watching, listening to?
I’m always reading about athletes and how they work on their mental game. I love the shows Schitt’s Creek and Games of Thrones. I love the Dragons. Tennis Channel always – I’m the biggest tennis fan.
Anything funny happened to you lately?
I was at the airport recently, and I have this bad habit of forgetting to lock the door in the bathroom. Needless to say, someone walk in and I just said “Heyyy, forgot to lock.. sorry…” Hahaha Just had to laugh it off.
What’s next for you?
I have brand new music on the way soon! I can’t wait to share it with you. I’m excited to be working with an amazing team and incredible, talented people.