Artist Spotlight: An Interview with Ray Tarantino

Hailing from England, Ray Tarantino is a man with a “million dollar voice” (Into the Hill). Kick-starting his career with a #1 placement on the Myspace UK charts, Ray has performed over 600 shows in the last three years in Europe and the United States. His soulful blend of folk, rock, and pop landed an invitation to open for Tori Amos during her sold-out European tour. His tv appearances have topped over 4 million viewers.

We are currently booking for Ray Tarantino’s 2010 U.S Tour and wanted to take some time to get Ray’s take on the industry for his fans and other aspiring artists to enjoy.

Last Stop: In a day in age where it is common for artists are giving up their passion and looking to find a steady day job, you’ve taken the opposite route by leaving security and jumping head first into quite an unstable industry. What would your advice be to other aspiring artists who are unsure if it is worth the cost to pursue music as a career? Looking back, do you have any regrets?

Ray: Bob Dylan who once said “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do”. I believe in that phrase and all that comes with it. We’re not talking about being rich or being famous, and doing music doesn’t involve cash or fame, that’s for hot-looking LA girls that want to be on MTV, and besides I’m sure most of them would be happy to swallow some weird stuff on their way there. Pursuing music as a career isn’t hard: how much does a mechanic earn? How many hours does he dedicate to his job? Get a little less cash with a little more dedication and you’ve got yourself a music career. You shouldn’t need more cash, you breathe beat and sweat music. Why need more cash? There’s nothing steady in a steady job.
If I have to think of an advice it would be to only have one plan. Music needs all you have, there’s no room for plan B. Any regrets? I wasted my time with steady day jobs to find myself right where it all started 🙂
Last Stop: As an internationally touring artist, what would you say are the biggest differences between touring the different countries that you perform in? Any tips on what to expect for U.S bands who wish to play in Europe?

Ray: The biggest difference is how much of a priority music happens to be for the people that live in the various territories. Germany loves music and you might even get paid double the deal if they like your set. The UK is a hard place to break but it’s fun and vibrant, France is forward thinking and cares for new sounds, Italy sucks and all they care about is TV shows, Ireland lives for music and Spain is great fun! Switzerland is great if your act is really boring or extremely sophisticated. I have a pending speeding fine there and I can pull it off with a month in prison, I’m trying not to tour the area. US bands are loved everywhere in Europe. There’s that modern mythology that relates to US music that will help all the time and everywhere: American music is better than European music anyway, there’s no problem. A solo acoustic act will do just fine everywhere, on the other hand life on the road in Europe can be a little expensive for a full band. I’ve heard Norway is big on songwriters, but I’ve never even been there so I couldn’t say.
Last Stop: What memories or live shows standout to you since you’ve begun your career?

Ray: I was fortunate enough to meet some outstanding people along the way and they’ve conquered the sweet spots of my memory. It’s all about the people right? Some legends and some unknown heroes. It’s amazing how much humanity you get to know when on the road, it seems people look for a rapid-relief-listener at times and a touring musician happens to be the best option available. As far as live shows go, opening for Tori Amos was definitely among the most intense experiences I’ve had, but I have to say every show I play with the band is a memorable one.
Last Stop: You often tour in different configurations: sometimes doing solo acoustic, sometimes you’ve got a full band behind you. What aspects do you enjoy about each type of live show?

Ray: Solo acoustic is exciting because you feel the pressure of having to give birth to your music all over again, and you’re both the father and the mother. You have to give it strength and you have to give it love. Playing with a band is amazing because you’ve placed your trust in a bunch of guys and you know they’ll do their best to help you. And it always works out to be just as you wanted it. What I love about playing with the band is obviously related to the dynamic shifts you can develop and undertake, it’s four people saying the same thing and many one-listener hearing it. It works.

Last Stop: Speaking of live shows, what can fans expect of you on your upcoming U.S tour? Any particular favorite places you enjoy here in the U.S?

Ray: What could they expect? Just a guy with a bunch of songs and a guitar. I’ll be playing what I’ll feel like playing. I’m out there learning, learning about the world and I love doing it by playing my music. I love most of the U.S. if I don’t get pulled over for speeding. They should have dedicated speed limits for touring musicians who have to get to their next gig. One song I’ll try to sing every night is Townes Van Zandt’s Pancho And Lefty, I’m addicted to that song now. I might even play it ten times in a row, who knows.
Last Stop: Can you describe what it’s been like working with Last Stop Booking on this tour?

Ray: I’ve worked with many people and booking agents seem to be all about talking most of the time, but very little doing. Last Stop Booking is way different, I had a plan to tour a specific route and the real thing became a better version of my plan. It’s great, safe, fast. It’s important for a touring musician to feel that the booking agent is proactive and not just dropping pins on a map. I found Last Stop Booking via some musician-friends and I’ll be happy to have musician-friends find Last Stop Booking via myself. Very inspiring, makes you want to keep touring all year long. I’d be happy to suggest this contact to anyone willing to get out there to play music and keep away from issues.
Last Stop: Any final words to other musicians or fans?

Ray: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” (Bob Marley)

For more information or to hear some of Ray Tarantino’s music, visit www.myspace.com/raytarantino

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