vice spotlight son ray
Son Ray shot by @jmtubera and designed by @ray_otw
VICE spotlight

Contemporary R&B Is Safe in the Hands of SON RAY

If you find yourself screaming the chorus of ‘Love’ by Keyshia Cole far too often, you’ll enjoy this.
Adele Luamanuvae
Sydney, AU

There’s no denying the 90s and 2000s were the golden age of R&B. There’s also no denying that this raunchy and raw era of R&B still has the world in a chokehold. 

The heart, soul and sexiness of artists like SWV, Aaliyah and Jodeci take you back to a time where shameless, endless yearning over bass-heavy kicks and synthy keys made R&B what it is – the horniest, yet most romantic genre on the planet.


But Naarm producer SON RAY ensures that you don’t have to reminisce on a time before now to scratch that itch.

The 28-year-old Filipino producer is a child of the World Wide Web. RAY’s musical background comes from traversing the boundless bits of music the internet offered, as well as the tastes of his older cousins and siblings.

“When I was a young kid, I was fortunate to have been around the generation before me as teens and young adults, enjoying what was their youth culture” he told VICE.

“From house parties to car rides and seeing their dance crews back in the day… Being Filipino you automatically have an affinity to music. Ask anyone and it’s music, dance and basketball.”

RAY traded an unfinished university degree for DJ decks and DAWs in 2018. 

VICE Spotlight: KHYA

While music never seemed a career pipeline to pursue, he enjoyed the simple joy of making music for pleasure while working a regular job.

“Removing yourself from the romanticised thought of solely doing music keeps it enjoyable,” he said.

“I go back to it when it calls for it, so I get the benefit of freedom.”

SON RAY treated the world to his debut project “HARANA” on Valentine’s Day, 2023. RAY describes his sound as “buttery” and “easy”, the perfect expression for the project’s contents.

“It’s a blatant homage to my heritage - sonically and culturally,” he said.

“It started with an early demo of “Lay U Down” featuring KHYA…the first song we created back in 2019…and a bunch of other beats I made inspired by some tracks Silent Jay showed me. Jay put me on to the term ‘harana’...which consolidated the whole idea.


“Initially it was supposed to be a chop and screw tape to tribute DJ Screw, but it kept evolving when I sat on it and let it live on its own timing; turning it into what it is now.”

The project is named after a traditional form of courtship in the Philippines, where men gather under the window of the woman they admire and serenade them. It makes sense for RAY to grasp this cultural tradition and create a “personally directed dedication playlist with determination to swoon”.

“HARANA” protects the sanctity of distinct elements that made old school R&B truly one-of-a-kind: “Hey baby, call me back”-esque voicemail clips, lush lyrical depth, passionate vocalists that aren’t afraid to bare it all and production that sounds both rugged and delicate.

“The project fulfils an exploration and expression of romance; from love unrequited, love attained and love lost,” he said.

“It’s a synthesis of self-examination — embracing past experiences with personal relationships…to convey what emotions and words were left unsaid, fantasized, or realised,”

“I don’t really intend to make people feel anything in particular. As long as I feel something, whatever it is, then I know I’m on the right track.”

SON RAY has made stifling contributions to the flourishing creative community in Melbourne, working with heavy hitters like CD, KHYA, Silentjay and MAMMOTH. But right now, he hopes his music journey leads him to eventual works with artists like HiTec, Mike, Navy Blue and Tony Shhnow, to name a few.


While SON RAY admits he doesn’t stay on top of the ever-changing landscape of Australian music, he’s certain of what he enjoys and is sure the microcosm of friends and creatives he is surrounded by will continue to trailblaze.

Adele is the Junior Writer & Producer for VICE AU/NZ. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter here.

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