I sat down with Maryland musician/producer, Sam Ray, from Ricky Eat Acid to talk about his new album, performing live, and what life’s like on the road.
If you’re new to Sam’s music, like I was, it’s hard to label his sound as one thing or another. However, his most recent album, Talk To You Soon, can be best described as experimental, soothing, and complex trance music. Typically, trance isn’t my favorite genre, but there’s something special about Ricky Eat Acid songs. Each track makes you feel something different. With mainly instrumental music, it’s easy to fall into patterns where songs begin to sound similar, but Sam creates music that’s unique yet familiar at the same time.
I met up with Sam downtown at Kilby Court on November 11th. Everything was bustling as the crew was setting up for the show later that night. Because Kilby Court is such a small venue, the vibe is very personal and organic. String lights lit up the main courtyard and graffiti from past performers covered the walls.
As Sam exited the green room, we greeted each other and walked towards the merch table. He comfortably pulled his knees to his chest as I set up for the interview. I first asked him about his newest album, Talk To You Soon. While listening to it I noticed that all of the songs sounded very different yet cohesive at the same time. I asked him if he had a certain concept in mind while writing the album. He talked about how he wanted the album to be a progression, saying that:
“The idea for that [the album] was always that it was based on this thought of there being somebody who meets and gets obsessed with this glowing ball of light and it eventually eats the person and turns into a predator and devours it.”
This explains how the album evolves from the bright and relaxing opening track, “‘Hey’,” to the more dark and sinister song, “As We Speak (feat. Wreck & Reference).” I then proceeded to ask him about his ongoing tour, and how it’s different performing live music:
“Anything you perform in your whole life is reliant on a crowd…Anytime I’ve ever played Ricky Eat Acid sets… I’ve noticed that it’s almost reliant on that [artist/crowd dynamic]… There was one night on this tour at a college show, two girls walked up on the stage and asked me to play “Gold Digger” over and over because they thought I was just DJ’ing… I’m just like ‘I can’t do that, like I don’t even have wi-fi. I couldn’t even if I wanted to,’ and they got so mad at me. I tried to be very nice about it but they told me I’d never be welcome back at the college… So it’s always unexpected.”
Lastly, I asked him about the pros and cons of being on tour. He mentioned that the biggest con was feeling exhausted and how he ended up with pneumonia and the flu by the end of one tour. However on the pro side, he talked about being on tour with his wife, Kitty, and being able to travel:
“Performing is very cool, but everything that comes with it, whether it’s seeing places or going anywhere I’d ever wanted to go…and meeting tons of people you never would otherwise is really cool, and it never stops being cool. Even when someone who has never heard of me comes up and is like ‘That was cool,’ is the best part of it I think.”
As we wrapped up, Sam and I shook hands as he headed backstage to get ready for the show. I sticked around after the interview to watch the rest of the concert. While the interview overall was fairly short, Sam was very humble and it was a pleasure to talk and get to know more about him and his music