LA based Chinese American pop artist Raylee Forest on New EP “Mask,” Lyrical Meaning & More

Raylee Forest is an artist of extraordinary vision and audacity, poised to redefine mainstream pop. Hailing from China but now based in California and Vancouver, her musical roots span continents and genres. Influenced by classical greats like Beethoven and Chopin, as well as pop icons like Michael Jackson and Celine Dion, Raylee’s music offers a unique blend of sentiment and innovation. She fearlessly experiments with song structures and lyricism, crafting meticulously designed masterpieces that challenge preconceptions. Her lyrics delve into society’s intricacies, invoking a wide range of emotions. With each release, Raylee sets the stage for a new era of boundary-pushing pop music, making her a true industry pioneer.


Tell me about your new single “Mask”?
“Mask” is one of my proudest creations that will take you on an unforgettable journey through time like no other!  This song not only features unconventional time signature changes, but also beautifully blends classical and contemporary pop elements. As you listen, I want you to feel as if you’re gracefully dancing in an 18th-century ballroom. The lyrics of “Mask” also hold a special place in my heart. Unlike many songs about “Masks” encouraging self-expression, this one explores a different perspective. It suggests that sometimes, embracing societal roles can make life smoother, while still allowing you to stay true to yourself. I hope “Mask” will enchant and inspire you, taking you on a musical journey that is both magical and thought-provoking.

 Your musical style is a captivating fusion of classical influences, East Asian pop, and Western pop icons. Can you elaborate on how you manage to seamlessly blend these diverse elements into your music?
It’s a bit like creating a new recipe – experimentation and testing are the key! I treat different elements as ingredients for the dish, mixing and matching them. If it sounds pleasing to my ear, I keep it. You’d be amazed at how wonderful a song can be when we embrace different types of sounds.


Your debut single “Tired of Waiting” made a significant impact. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind the song and how it represents your artistic vision?
I wrote this song while waiting at a red light, which we all know can be quite frustrating. However, that moment of annoyance actually inspired me to create this song. Guess how long an average person spends to wait in line in a life time – 3 to 5 years! Crazy, right? 

    Your lyrics are often described as dark and enigmatic, taking listeners on unique journeys. How do you approach the process of writing such intricate and captivating lyrics?
    I love storytelling! Whenever I get an idea, I try to turn it into a story, especially ones with unexpected twists like in “Puppetry”. This way, as people listen to my songs, they can also enjoy the stories.  

      “Puppetry” is a fascinating blend of eerie atmospheres and infectious hooks. How did you conceptualize and create a song that manages to be both catchy and thought-provoking?
      I wanted to tell a story about the hidden rules of society that we all have to follow, and what better way to convey this than through the metaphor of a “puppet”? I wrote the lyrics first, once they were in place, the melody flowed naturally. It carries a dark, somewhat eerie feeling, reminiscent of a Halloween tune. Surprisingly, they complement each other perfectly. 

        “The Same Day” showcases a beautiful fusion of traditional Asian instruments and modern pop influences. What prompted you to experiment with such a distinctive sound, and what message did you aim to convey with this track?
        I’ve been looking for songs to get ideas for this track, and I heard a traditional instrument playing in the background of a video. I thought it was really cool, so I decided to mix that East Asian sound into this rap song. “The Same Day” is about feeling stuck in the same day over and over, kind of like the story of Sisyphus. 


        “Grown Apart” is a powerful power ballad that resonates deeply with listeners. Can you share the story behind this song and the emotions you wanted to evoke through it?
        Absolutely! “Grown Apart” is a ballad that captures the feeling of growing distant from someone you were once close to as you navigate through life. We all encounter numerous people who enter and exit our lives, and sometimes we find ourselves reminiscing about those times. This song is a tribute to those individuals who were once significant in our lives but have now moved on. It’s a way to remember them and the moments we shared together.

        You’re known for your willingness to challenge the norms of pop music. Could you provide some insight into your creative process when it comes to experimenting with unconventional song structures and chord progressions? 
        Let’s take “Mask” as an example. When I first come up with the music for this song, I know it has an unconventional time signature change, shifting from 4/4 to 6/8. I could have opted for a consistent time signature, but we chose to embrace the change and tackle the challenge head-on. 

          Although it required more effort and time compared to other songs to ensure a seamless transition, I believe the outcome is truly rewarding. I always strive to keep an open mind and embrace creative challenges.

          As you prepare for the release of your upcoming EP, what can your fans expect in terms of themes, sound, and overall experience from this collection of songs?
          My upcoming EP, which will be my first, is like an introduction to who I am as an artist. I am excited to show the world what shaped me, my future vision, and my dream. The songs will cover different feelings and experiences, giving listeners a glimpse into my world. 


          Your music is often described as pushing boundaries and defying categorization. How do you navigate the balance between creating music that’s innovative yet still accessible to a wide audience?
          Making music that’s both new and interesting, but still easy for people to like, is a cool challenge. I try to mix new and familiar things together. This way, I can create music that’s fresh and exciting, while also making sure it’s something people can relate to and enjoy. 

            Your voice is often highlighted for its magnetic and chameleonic qualities. How do you adapt your vocal style to suit the different genres and atmospheres you incorporate into your music?
            I try to change my voice to fit the mood of the song. For example, “Grown Apart” is a ballad, so I sang in a more powerful voice; but “Mask” is like a happy, energetic and playful waltz, so I focused on delivering the upbeat energy in the song.

            Photo By houian wong

            Your journey from China to California and Vancouver is quite inspiring. How have these different places and cultures influenced your music and artistic perspective?
            Living in different places exposed me to different cultures and sounds. It’s like trying different foods that you’ve never had before. These experiences inspire me to mix different elements in my music.

                With a background rooted in classical music and influences from various pop icons, how do you see your role in shaping the future of the mainstream pop genre?
                I want to be skilled at creating both pop music and innovative, futuristic sounds. I can’t wait to see what pop can become in the future, which is why I try to blend new ideas into the traditional pop genre and create songs that feel both familiar and thrilling. My aim is to stretch the boundaries of what pop music can become.


                  In a world where trends come and go quickly, how do you ensure the longevity of your music by staying true to your unique style and vision?
                  I stay true to my own style while also open to all those exciting new changes. It’s like staying true to yourself while growing at the same time. I want my music to be timeless, something that people can enjoy for a long time.

                    Could you share an anecdote or personal experience that significantly impacted your approach to music and contributed to your growth as an artist?
                    As I grew up, I listened to many songs. Every time I revisit those songs, they bring back something precious – a certain feeling from when I first heard them or a memory from my younger days. I believe music has this incredible ability to capture moments, helping us remember the past. That’s why I aspire to create songs that become meaningful chapters in people’s life stories.

                    As an artist who challenges the status quo, what advice do you have for emerging musicians who aspire to break boundaries and create something revolutionary in their own right?
                    We don’t have to entertain everyone, so don’t be afraid to be yourself. It’s like wearing your favorite outfit confidently. Find what makes you unique and share it with the world. Your authenticity is your biggest strength. 


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