This interview is posted in the webzine Rawkn'n'Roll. I place here the English version, so it could be useful for Ray and his fans outside Bulgaria.
From years we are fans of Ray Wilson and of the wonderful interpretations he does of the songs, both his and by other artists like Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie. The warmth in the music the Scotsman serves live and in his studio records creates comfort and softly lures you to drown in its embrace. And a few months before his first concert in Bulgaria we contacted Ray for his first Bulgarian interview.
RR: Hello, Ray! Thank you for doing this interview!
RW: My Pleasure.
RR: Right now you’re touring with two different shows – Ray Wilson – acoustic band and Genesis Klassik. How do you decide which of the two show should be played in the current city when you are making the schedule?
RW: I realized, through the years, that the opportunities for concerts were different in each city/country. Sometimes I would get an enquiry for a small venue, sometime a large venue. So I decided to create a situation that allowed me to adapt to the location. That’s basically why I have different shows. Genesis Classic can be anything from 3 musicians to 60 musicians, depending on budget and venue size. When I do acoustic versions of the songs, many people prefer this and when I do the big show, there are people who prefer that. For me, it’s all fun.
RR: Since you are coming to Bulgaria with Genesis Classic, I would like to ask you, how the idea of this project was born?
RW: I was always thinking about ways to perform the Genesis songs, that was both unique and yet kept the magic of the great songs of Genesis. Genesis never performed with Violins, Cello or an Orchestra, so I decided to be the first Genesis member to do it, with the Genesis songs. The same is true for Genesis Unplugged. Genesis never did that either, so I decided to do it.
RR: It is known that no matter if solo or with Genesis Classic, you always play a lot of Genesis tracks. Did you find out that they fit you so well after your collaboration with the band or you have performed songs like “Mama” and “The Carpet Crawlers” before?
RW: When I sang with Genesis, I realized that certain songs fitted my singing style better than others. The Gabriel era was always very good and obviously my own era too. When it came to Phil’s era, I needed to work on creating a style that kept his magic, but fitted my voice. It took time, but it really works now.
RR: In your live albums we hear not only Genesis songs but also songs of the solo albums of their singers before you. How did you decide to perform live songs like “In the Air Tonight” and “Biko”?
RW: I simply love these songs. That’s why I play them. Both Phil and Peter have created some great songs over the years, so I enjoy to perform some of them, as well as my own songs, like Inside from my time with Stiltskin.
RR: You’ve played in three bands, in various styles. And now your music seems more mature, calm, yet deep and cosy. How did you turn from the explosive rock of the early Stiltskin to these intimate shows and albums of Ray Wilson?
RW: It basically reflects both sides of my character. I love Metal and I also love Melancholy. My own musical style is somewhere in the middle.
RR: How did you get involved with Armin van Buuren for the “Yet Another Day” and “Gypsy” remixes? Do you have plans in experimenting with other electronic-orientated music?
RW: I met Armin 10 years ago and he asked me if I could send him some of my songs. Another Day was the first and he loved it. Then he created the remix, Yet Another Day.
RR: You sang with Scorpions in their “Moment of Glory”. How did it happen? Did that gig inspire you to work with Berlin Symphonic Ensemble?
RW: I knew the Scorpions from a tour I did with them in 1999. We got on very well. I really like the guys. When they asked me to sing Big City Nights, it was a pleasure for me. I think working with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra did give me inspiration for the Genesis Classic show.
RR: You have said you wanted to re-record “Inside” with female singer like Sandra Nasic or Skin. Do you still think in that direction? (And a hint – listen to the lady who sings in this song by Japanese composer Akira Yamaoka for the PC game Silent Hill 4)
RW: Yeah I think that would really work They are both great singers. It hasn’t happened yet though? Thanks for the tip.
RR: As we’re talking about Stiltskin albums, “She” is quite different from “The Mind’s Eye”. What should we expect to hear in “Unfulfilment”?
RW: The new album is a similar sound to She, but not so dark. I am extremely happy with the work we have done on this new record. We will see if the fans like it? September 9th release.
RR: Back in the 90’s when Stiltskin split up and your tour with Genesis was over, you started solo career. How did you decide to reform Stiltskin?
RW: It was my producers’ idea and it made sense to have a name for my band. Stiltskin was an obvious choice for me. I was thinking along the lines of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band or Neil Young and Crazy Horse. That’s why I created Ray Wilson and Stiltskin, for my own original music.
RR: Have you heard lately of Peter Lawlor?
RW: No. I think he’s still pissed off that I was able to create a successful career without him. He does ok too. He writes commercials.
RR: When “Inside” came out it blew the air of the TV and radio stations. Do you miss those days?
RW: No. My life is much better now. I have good loyal fans and a career that will last, if I keep working hard and doing good shows. That means everything to me.
RR: What do you miss from the 90’s and what do you like more nowadays not only in music but at all?
RW: I don’t miss the 90’s at all. It was fun, but life is so much better now. I know who I am, where I want to go and how to get there. There was a lot of good music in the 90’s. Radiohead, Live, The Eels and so on.
RR: Are there going to be other Ray Wilson solo albums or you will stay with today’s Stiltskin reincarnation? And what is the difference between Ray Wilson in Stiltskin and Ray Wilson solo?
RW: I will continue to do both. A Ray Wilson record is normally more acoustic and written musically and lyrically by me. A Stiltskin record is a collaboration of many musicians. I don’t write the music for Stiltskin records. Only the Text. So it sounds very different to many solo albums
RR: Where do you feel more comfortable – in the big music halls with Genesis Classic or the smaller clubs and halls where you perform with the acoustic band?
RW: I am comfortable in both. To be honest, it’s the variety that makes my life special. I never get bored performing, because it changes all the time.
RR: From your live CDs it is obvious that you enjoy telling stories between the songs (a favorite of mine is the one with the forgotten microphone during a Genesis gig). Have you been offered to appear in VH1’s Storytellers?
RW: No, but when I started a solo career, I based my shows on this idea. People loved it, so I did many shows like this, over the years.
RR: You are born in Scotland but for few years now you live in Poland. What did bring you there and what are the differences you have personally met between Western and Eastern Europe? Where is it easier to create music?
RW: Well I fell in love with a Polish girl and decided to live in Poznan with her. I really love the east. The people are warmer and the girls are beautiful. What more could anyone ask for?? I just feel at home in Poland. I also had a lot of fun in Hungary and Czech Republic and Russia. I am working very hard on moving my music more East, more of the time. It’s just great fun to play in the East. Romania and Bulgaria is next and I am really looking forward to it
RR: You say you have written “Goodbye Baby Blue” about a girlfriend who never smiled very much. Do you have a song about a girl who actually smiles?
RW: Not yet. Maybe one day?
RR: Have you got any expectations of your concert in Bulgaria? It will be shortly before Christmas, what presents should we expect, hehe?
RW: Scotch whisky and Polish vodka.
RR: What music inspires Ray Wilson today?