A radiant fusion of hip hop, brassy tones and uplifting joy, the brand new single Keep Ya Head Up from Wemba-Wemba MC Ridzyray is out now as part of the Singing Our Futures program, The Archie Roach Foundation’s mentoring experience centred around helping First Nations artists on their songwriting and recording journeys. Adding to already released singles from Emma Donovan, Kee’Ahn, Kiwat Kennell and Madi Colville-Walker, the brand new Singing Our Futures Vol.1 EP is set to land on Friday November 17, amalgamating of all of the incredible Singing Our Futures tracks together as one powerful and unified collection. And Ridzyray joins us now for a quick Q + A

First up, can you please give us a quick intro to Ridzyray

Hey what’s doing, I’m Ridzyray I’m a rapper from Wemba-Wemba up on the Malle Northern Vic, currently living in Geelong on (Watharong) Country. I make beats and write songs and if I’m not doing that I’m pretty much doing the best I can just to appreciate and enjoy life aye. 

Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?

I’ve just been stewing on how i couldn’t place any decent bets on the Melbourne Cup 

(Gamble Responsibly) hanging out with family relaxing, taking it easy as much as possible.

Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for? 

I’ve actually been playing around with rapping for a little while. I got like 50 tracks I did 10 years ago, a type of thing that I’m glad never hit the public’s ears. But actually trying to do something with it and I wouldn’t say getting serious but putting it out there and seeing what happens, it’s been like 5 years give or take I think maybe 6 now   

Who are your greatest inspirations?  Why?
Musically that’s so hard to pinpoint,  I’ve always been a consumer of so much different music that I think everything I make stems from somewhere I just can’t pinpoint it at the time. But Bob Marley was the first artist that piqued my interest and I started watching all his interviews and stuff like that. I remember when I first started trying to rap was the peak Lil Wayne era. I just remember thinking it couldn’t be that hard because of how effortless Wayne made it seem. And yeah got a USB mic figured out how to record on a bootleg program, downloaded every beat pack I could find on Google and started making raps that didn’t even really make sense but it was fun.   

How do you create music?  Are your lyrics/story-driven, or does the music/melody come first?  Explain your process.

It varies, sometimes I’ll make a beat and instantly have the concept based on how the music makes me feel, other times the lyrics come to me and I’ll write till I feel stuck or feel like I have more than enough lyrics for a track. Something I found pretty cool is sometimes lyrics I wrote 2-3 years ago that never had music to them seem to work just right on a beat that I would have made 5 mins ago and vice versa.    

What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?

My greatest challenge would have been breaking my face and having my jaw wired shut for months, not being able to rap then having to get used to how to rap again, and then finally when I felt like I was somewhat normal and ready to start recording and performing again COVID hits and I’m on the bench for another 2 years. While I couldn’t talk though I taught myself how to make beats so it wasn’t all bad. 

Tell us about your new release, how did it come about?

The single is really just one of those feel-good tracks that get stuck in ya head aye. I had the rough beat made and lyrics written for it about 4 years ago, but I just felt like the production deserved more than I was capable of, lucky I did wait because I was blessed with an opportunity to work with a mentor and was paired with the musical genius that is Dobby, as part of The Archie Roach Foundations Singing Our Futures Project. He took it to the next level as did everyone else who was involved in the creation of the track.

What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?

Have fun, don’t expect it all to happen overnight, DON’T GIVE UP. Try not to listen to everyone’s opinions too much & do you.  

Tell us your favourite Zen practice.

Sitting on the floor underneath a nice steamy shower & being out on country where the only thing you can hear is nature.