Debut track premiere
“We are not an hyperpop project, we’re not a punk band, we don’t play pop music, people are free to think so but we don’t care that much.” Hailing from Schio, a humid-in-the-summer, misty-in-the-winter town just off Venice, Ray + Beauties have made a commitment not to commit.
Blending the urgency of garage-rock with electronic beats, hard-hitting production and glossy vocals, this new collaborative project sees Michele Bellinaso – frontman of garage-surf act FREEZ – join forces with producer Ettore Rigadello, who made a name for himself in the Italian beatmaking scene under the moniker of Ray GG.
It all began in the spring of 2020, when the duo were first introduced through a mutual friend over a coffee. Then lockdown struck and the duo had to overcome the boundaries imposed by lockdown. This condition, though, was familiar to both artists who, for years, had been making tracks from their bedroom studios.
Praised by many as a much-awaited refresh of Italian hyperpop, Ray + Beauties – despite nurturing a fascination for all things Drain Gang and PC Music – stand by a commitment to not commit; to genre, label or influence. Perhaps, that’s what makes their debut single David Guetta (premiered here), a tongue-in-cheek number reflecting on the opulence of 2010s EDM music, as disorientating as it is addictive. Just like the multi-layers of their hometown, suspended between the contrasting landscapes of the Little Dolomites and Lake Garda, these two musicians skip between worlds with spontaneity and guile.
“We’re building something very hard to define but that’s okay, it sounds good.”
Lorenzo Ottone: Can you guide us through your ‘No Worldbuilding’ manifesto? Is it a reaction to a music industry constantly striving to put labels on artists, to file them in themed playlists?
Ettore Rigadello: The urgency of the concept of ‘No Worldbuilding’ comes from the fact that many of the artists we see as inspirations aim to create a universe of their own, a world inhabited by a precise fandom who identifies with them. We want to normalise the genuine inspiration dictated by everything we listen to without having to categorise ourselves within a precise genre. We are not an hyperpop project, we’re not a punk band, we don’t play pop music, people are free to think so but we don’t care that much. Maybe we are just lazy.
LO: Despite you two coming from different genres, in David Guetta you can appreciate a strong connection between both your backgrounds.
Michele Bellinaso: A mutual friend wanted us to meet, he thought we were two people who would get along well together. We had a coffee at my house towards the end of May 2020 and listened to some beats that Ettore wanted me to listen to: he was keen to use some of my guitar parts for an ambient project of his to be released a few months later. It was a totally different genre to anything I had been working on, but during the first lockdown I very much abandoned my musical comfort zone to listen almost exclusively to Charlie XCX. I felt like a new person, so I started writing over some beats that Ettore had composed years before. Four months later we had already composed and recorded seven demos drawing on what we do best: writing lyrics and playing the guitar in my case, using FL Studio at Ettore’s.
LO: The single plays upon the cult of 2010s EDM DJs, like David Guetta. Do you think the time has already come for a postmodern revival of the ‘10s? Does this irony embody your ethos?
ER: David Guetta was the first song we worked on together, I had just bought this synth and played around with the deliberately EDM bassline from Play. The intention was not to pay homage to David Guetta as a musician, but as a symbol of an era that seems very distant now, however it still is very current: the celebration of alcohol and drugs, girls in the swimming pool, money and swag. Kesha once said she brushed her teeth with Jack Daniels, what the fuck, man! I think that postmodern, revivalist reflections already took place in the ‘10s, and they were actually based on the culture of the ‘00s. The lyrics instead are obviously ironic. Being the first song we made together, we were pretty hyped, we felt free to say things in a dirtier way. More introspective songs from Ray + Beauties, however, will come very soon.
“…during the first lockdown I very much abandoned my musical comfort zone to listen almost exclusively to Charlie XCX”
LO: This project is quite unusual for the standards of Italian music. What music do you both connect with?
MB: As soon as we met, we listened a lot to Drain Gang, Sad Boys, some newly released hyperpop artists, and things like that. More than sonic or aesthetic inspiration, I would say that they were simply the glue that allowed the project to start. Over time, Ettore shared some electronic collectives like Northern Electronics, Posh Isolation or artists like Lorenzo Senni with me, and all this music was being spontaneously mixed with punk, emo and hardcore that I had on my Spotify. We’re building something very hard to define but that’s okay, it sounds good. The goal is to reach as many people as possible, and Italian is not for us anyway.
LO: You are in the roster of Brutal, a new-born record label that refers to a Milanese casting agency. As we witness a growing interaction between music and other arts, do you think this process takes the focus away from the music or is it a mutual opportunity of growth?
ER: If we look at the world of contemporary electronic music, most of the artists come from the world of visual arts, or constantly collaborate with arts academies or big fashion brands. Caterina Barbieri with Ruben Spini, Lorenzo Senni and his performance at Club to Club in Turin: the visuals and the sound are increasingly co-dependent. Ray + Beauties, in fact, are set to collaborate for the entire art direction of the singles and the soon-to-be-released EP’s covers with Elisa Santi, Venetian artist and IUAV student.
Ray + Beauties debut single David Guetta’(Brutal Label) is available to stream on all platforms. Follow the duo on Instagram.