AMANDA RAY “BLACK ELECTRO SCI-FI CHICK”
BOBBI MISICK of TRACE Magazine
"How many black electro sci-fi chicks do you got going on out there?" asks Atlanta-based ambient singer/songwriter Amanda Ray. "I want to be the first."
Truth be told, the number of black female artists in America that stray from the current pop-music formula that pairs hip hop beats with R&B vocals and boy-crazy lyrics can seem depressingly low. But Amanda admits her style is always a little different. "I hate writing from one perspective," she says, "I want people to grow. Anytime I write, even if it's a love song, it's with a different twist."
Amanda's debut album Mirrored Images is chock full of "different twists." With a deliberate progression that drops the listener off in various far off fantasies, her voice sounds like that of a flickering pixie blowing into your ear, one syllable at time. Her appreciation for electronica came during her college years where she started devouring records from underground trip hop and experimental musicians in Europe, particularly the UK. She decided she had to go there. "I started listening to Mono, Lamb, Bjork, Tricky, Goldie and definately a lot of Portishead and because a lot of those groups came from the UK that naturally made me want to go. I talked my professors into letting me do an independent research in London...I felt like I needed to be there in order to break into the genre."
She was disappointed to learn that kids in the UK were listing to the same pop music that saturated top 40 lists in the States. After a six-month stay in London and a few recordings she headed back to Atlanta to finish her 2001 EP, "What's On Your Mind." Self-promoted, with the help of her local Tower Records, the EP was a big local success, even reaching the hands of an NBC producer who featured one of the tracks on the Today Show.
Fast foward a few years, to a major move from the ATL to NYC to work with Brooklyn-based production team Super Buddha and a month-long hospital stay due to scar tissue from a previous surgery that almost stopped production altogether, and we have Ray's first full-length album, Mirrored Images. She's not trying to break down any musical walls with this record, she says, but she does want to show the world that it can't pigeonhole this black female artist. "It's been hard because there's no other black women out there for me to follow," she says. "I had no blueprint. But I had a vision about who Amanda Ray is and I stuck to it."