Carter Ray is an LA-based singer-songwriter, filmmaker, and tv persona. His short film, “The Change Up” which documents his transition from a woman to a man, won ‘Best Drama’ at the QueerX LA Film Festival. He made his musical debut in 2021 with his single Dimensions, Baby. Scars by Carter Ray is the artist’s latest single, sporting autobiographical lyrics and lilting melodies woven into an infectious rhythm.
With catchy synth hooks and heartfelt lyrics, the song has a breezy, sky-blue vibe. The vocal timbre of the artist is soothing and light as he retraces his journey to himself. The melodies hover protectively and encouragingly as the artist’s vocals arouses a heartbreaking empathy in the listener.
Using conversational lyrics, the artist is having a heart-to-heart with the person he repressed, stifled, and hid from the world. He retrospectively views his past life of denying his true self and celebrates his liberation from that pain and fear. With kindness and sympathy that will resonate with people similarly struggling with their truth, the artist, with unbridled pride and joy sings:
“They all try to tear us apart,
but there is just so much to it,
we’ll never lose who we are!”
The song rings like an anthem, empowers and awakens the primal need to unapologetically be ourselves. The synth hooks have total dance energy. It’s so easy to get lost in the pool of the artist’s feelings and emotions. Can’t wait to see what else the artist has in store for us!
You’ve racked up quite a reputation as a cinematic persona with your debut short film, “The Change Up” winning Best Drama at the QueerX LA Film Festival, your appearances in MTV’s FAKING IT and in Tool of America with John Cena! Can you tell us a little about your experience with all this and the inspirations you drew from it?
◦ Film has always been a passion of mine ever since I can remember. I believe the best way to tell a story is through art. I wrote my film “The Change Up” in 2016, but it was just on paper. I pushed the project to the side for a few years. I found myself in a toxic relation, and I felt worthless. I felt like I had to settle for that type of treatment because it was all I was ever going to get. Either the toxic relationship or nothing.
When I finally broke free, I knew I had to make this film. I originally wrote it because I wanted trans people to know they were capable of being loved and accepted. When I found my way back to the script I realized that not only was this a message to others but it was a message to myself. This process allowed me to heal. After the film was released, I got an overwhelming number of messages from people all over the world telling me how the film inspired them. Since then I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, act, and make an impact.
You released your debut single, Dimensions, Baby, in 2021, exactly a year ago. What about songwriting and musical expression drew you towards it and how has it impacted you as an artist?
Honestly I think it was the challenge. My manager, Jennifer DaRe, often was asked by casting if I could sing. She knew that I could, however I had nothing to show for it. After further discussion she encouraged me to just make one solid single so we could submit that to casting when requested.
I met up with Sam J Garfield, to see if there was potential to create a track together. At the time, it was just for fun, but when I got in the studio with Sam, my mindset changed. It wasn’t that easy for me. It was new. Whether it was getting the timing correct, getting my tone to sound the way I wanted, I had to somehow hurdle over those obstacles.
Working with Sam has been a dream. He isn’t a “beat maker” or “engineer”, no, he is a director of music. The same way a director would guide their actor, he guides his artists. He helped me find what worked for my voice, and how to work at my craft. He saw something in me, and because of that, I’ve been pushing and challenging myself to give it my all.
To me, he is much more than a producer, he is one of my best friends, and also is now a groomsmen in my wedding. I also loved how I was able to tell a short story in a matter of 2 to 3 minutes. Then I started booking venues, clubs and heading San Fran pride, and I found my new love for music.
You’re a rising star on TikTok with 300,000 followers and over 35 million views. How has this platform and popularity helped your goal of spreading your message of empowerment, love, and validation to young transgender folks like yourself?
I started making TikToks during the pandemic. I felt at this time when I was forced to spend alone time, going through my own personal battles, I wanted to find an outlet to reach people who might be feeling the same way. TikTok allowed me to reach a group of individuals who were turning to social media for a good laugh. Often the stigma unfortunately is that, “life is hard if you are trans” but I wanted to showcase how incredible life is because I’m trans. Embracing who you are and being unapologetic, is so refreshing.
Your new song, Scars, tells heartfelt and honest stories of the pain, experience, and immense growth that you faced in your journey to where you are today. Despite all that, your tone is always optimistic and hopeful for the future. What do you want your listeners, both queer and non-queer communities, to take away from your music?
I want my listeners to see what life can look like when you are able to accept all that makes you beautiful. Embracing the things that they may have always thought were flaws. To be able to recognize that they are imperfectly perfect. I hope my music makes others feel hopeful.
We’re dying to know what else you have lined up for us. Please tell us a little about the upcoming projects in your artistic roadmap.
I am continuing to write and book gigs, I am really excited to find my next acting project, continuing to write and focus on all the artistic endeavors that feed my soul and inspire me to always focus on exactly who I am and what I want for myself and my trans community. I am getting married at the end of this month, which has also been huge part of my journey. Finding your people is such a major empowering part of everyone’s path. I am excited to continue representing my community and continue to create things that can inspire! Thank you so much for this interview!