Ezel & Rona Ray talk about their stunning new album Take Me Home
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-1954,single-format-standard,bridge-core-3.0.6,qode-page-transition-enabled,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,qode_grid_1300,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-29.3,qode-theme-bridge,disabled_footer_bottom,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.10.0,vc_responsive

Ezel & Rona Ray talk about their stunning new album Take Me Home

The list of artists who have been supporting Ezel and Rona Ray over the last three years since they started working together is as extensive as it is impressive with A-list DJ’s Louie Vega, Dimitri From Paris, Seth Troxler, Mousse T and Natasha Diggs among a long list of incredible DJ’s spinning their tracks. Their early success together led to them collaborating on a full artist album Take me home and it is already causing a huge stir with the first three singles from the album ‘Hard To Stay Away’ , ‘Don’t Know Yet’ & ‘History Repeating’ all hitting the coveted number one spot on Traxsource.

Their tracks excel on both the songwriting and production fronts. Timeless and anthemic the album is packed with sumptuous, shimmering and effusive underground Soulful house alongside a smattering of RnB. The quality of this album is such that Soulful House legend DJ Spen reached out to convey to Ezel that this is ‘how modern soulful house should sound in 2023’.

It’s an album which flows perfectly creating a wonderfully warm world of it’s own which is perfectly suited for home listening. Equally though it’s packed with Dancefloor gold.

I spoke to Ezel and Rona about their collaborations, influences and how the album came together.

Hi there Ezel & Rona,

Thanks for speaking to us today.

You have been working together for a few years now back to ‘Hard to Stay Away in 2021, how did you meet, and what inspired you to start collaborating?

R: Thank you so much for having us! We met online about 3 years ago via mutual friends. We both had an experience working with Sean Ali and Munk Julious. Ezel sent me the instrumental for Hard to Stay Away, I found it beautiful and that’s basically where it all started.

What musical influences did you have at the very start that was common ground and inspiration for you both?

R: I think that common ground was simply an unbearable desire to create something beautiful. My upbringing was R&B music, for the most part. Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Sade and Erykah Badu. I’d say I was trying to become a well-rounded vocalist-songwriter when I was starting my journey, letting every great artist I hear influence me in some way and be transformed into a tiny puzzle piece in my musical identity.

E: Personal influences vested into this album project I would say early Masters at Work and Naked Music NYC, they were the sounds that influenced me early in my career as a house music producer.

For our readers who haven’t come across your releases before how would you describe the musical style of Ezel & Rona Ray so far and what is your musical ethos right now in 2024?

R: I would describe everything I do musically as sophistipop. I base my songwriting on catchy melodies but it will always have sophisticated and complex elements. I’m not sure Ezel would agree though.

E: I feel Rona brings a lot of pop appeal to the table as she so self-describes. To me, we aligned in the purpose of making good music, more specifically attached to Soulful House which is the genre we both have been exploring and what put us in the same orbit to collaborate.

You have had lots of support from some of the best DJs and producers out there including DJ Spen, DJ Spinna, Kai Alce, Seth Troxler & Mousse T. Have you been surprised at just how popular your collaborations have become in such a short period?

R: It’s very flattering to get support from top producers and DJs in the genre, but I think it was a long time coming for the both of us since we’ve been making music most of our lives, sometimes all it takes is to find that 1 collaborator you have perfect chemistry and vision of music with. And we did!

E: We appreciate all this love and support from pillars of our music, I look up to them as fellow DJs & Producer.

What would you say is your most significant production together so far and why?

R: I want to say ‘Hard to stay away’ is the most significant one cause it’s the first one we’ve done and it was the beginning of this big journey that brought us here. It was the first big success and gave me hope that we could achieve big things together.

E: I concur, “Hard to Stay Away” is a beautiful soulful house track that will stay timeless.

You are separated by some considerable distance, how do you find it working remotely with each other and what tools do you use to work over long distances?

R: I have worked with producers remotely all my life. I have a home studio, where I record all my songs and when I’m done I send vocal stems to the producer. It’s very convenient for me to record myself instead of having a sound engineer and a producer in the same room, since my process is writing and recording a song at the same time, free-styling some parts, trying different background vocal combinations, experimenting to see what sounds better. I’d prefer for it to stay the intimate process that it is. Working with Ezel has been effortless, he always gave me full freedom to do whatever I decide to do and his instrumentals usually have a lot of different parts, and different chord progressions, the fact that it’s musically rich makes it easier for me to write to it.

E: As she described, the work focuses more on trying to best utilize the resources from each other. She is a consummate professional at what she does and I know a thing or two myself, so after that is just a matter of obtaining good alignment something that should come as effortlessly as possible, and in our case it did.

What is your collaborative production technique, how do you create these songs?

R: I write to the instrumental ideas Ezel sends me, my technique is humming melodies, free-styling, often finding the hook first and then filling in the gaps and just hoping that it will all make sense at the end.

E: Rona is a very open minded creative and while working with her on an array of singles than later gave into the idea of a full album, I observed styles and vibes that she could potentially do and I applied myself to constantly send her cool ideas in different styles just to see what will resonate with her and after she had put in her input try to maximize on those ideas bringing everything to the best possible outcome in terms of execution. We’re both very self-contained creatives, she does her vocal thing and I do the music plus I take care of technical post-production aspects mixing, etc.

At the last leg of the production process, we got help from a very experienced and dope mastering engineer. His name is Joey “808” Fernandez, known for his work with such greats as Terry Hunter, Emmaculate, Dj Spinna, and others. His input was instrumental in elevating the sonic quality of this whole work and we’re very thankful for it.

Being an artist can be a lonely life with loads of time hidden away in the studio. Does working together help make production easier and does the music get better as a duo?

E: I feel its a case-by-case scenario. Yes, creation can be a very intense process and there are certain vibes that you sort of need something that perhaps you can only find in a partner. The key is to stay open and let the music guide you. In this case, teaming up with Rona for this particular project has been one of the best decisions I’ve made musically. Very proud of what we’ve achieved.

Ezel, please tell us a little about your studio and the one piece of equipment or plugin you couldn’t live without.

E: I have a decent lab that sort of reflects my musical taste in terms of equipment. Lots of synth boards (Piano / Keys being my main instrument) samplers, a couple of vintage pianos, and a hybrid analog / digital audio processing workflow that has allowed me to develop a certain sound that was heavily put to work for this project. As far as a favorite piece, I don’t have one in particular, every little aspect of my studio brings a certain quality and everything together is what makes the magic.