Last month, Raylee Forest shared her latest single “Mask,” the second song off of her forthcoming EP. A fan of blending sounds to create her “dark fairy tale” music, Raylee finds inspiration in pop from across the globe. C-pop, Western pop, and even classical music work their way into her songs.
After making her debut at the start of this year, Raylee has been putting out songs that explore everything from societal pressure to chaotic love. “Mask” is a look at what it means to weigh playing by rules against being yourself. She sings about the different “masks” that let her navigate a variety of social situations, keeping people happy so she can do what she actually wants to. The idea: if everyone likes you, what can’t you get away with?
We had to know more about Raylee’s music process and the creation of “Mask.” Check out the full interview below!
Showstopper Magazine Online: Hi, Raylee! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Raylee Forest: Hey there! I’m Raylee Forest, I’m a dark pop singer-songwriter based in California and Vancouver. I started playing piano and singing when I was very little. But it wasn’t until about a year ago that I started releasing my own music. “Tired of Waiting” is my debut single, and now I am preparing my first EP.
SMO: How would you describe your sound?
Raylee: While I’m sticking to the pop genre, I enjoy blending various sounds together. I also prefer energetic sounds that people can enjoy while driving or walking. So, you won’t find many slower-paced songs in my music.
SMO: What do you hope to express with your music? Who would you say it’s for?
Raylee: My recent songs revolve around themes of identity, self-discovery, and breaking free from societal expectations. Also, they tend to have a darker tone, especially in the lyrics. People who enjoy dark fairy tales would likely resonate with it. My fans often describe my music as “songs for the villains in Disney movies.” If you’re a fan of Halloween or enjoy that kind of vibe, you’ll probably like my music!
SMO: What does your creative process look like?
Raylee: It usually begins with a word or a motif. I document it on my phone so I don’t forget. Then I start brainstorming ideas and look for an interesting angle to develop into a complete song.
SMO: You are from China and now live in the US and Canada. How do your experiences traveling and living in different parts of the world influence your music? What would you say are your biggest inspirations?
Raylee: As I grew up, I was exposed to diverse music genres from different cultures—from Western pop icons Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey to C-pop stars like Eason Chan, Jay Chou, and JJ Lin. All of them have become sources of inspiration for my music.
SMO: What was the inspiration for your latest single “Mask”?
Raylee: It all began with a waltz motif that I came up with (possibly in the shower). Now that motif has evolved into the melody of the chorus in this song. In terms of the theme, many songs about “Mask” encourage self-expression. But what if we play the rules instead? Wouldn’t it be better to embrace our true selves that way since there will be no haters anymore? This thought served as the inspiration behind writing this song.
SMO: In three words, what is “Mask” to you?
Raylee: Waltz, Elegant, Magical
SMO: Do you have a favorite line from the song?
Raylee: I love the following lines just because they are so fun:
“Every day I put on a different one
Today, time for a grin on front
It’ll be nice and laugh at your lame jokes
When I roll my eyes at ya
Put the mask on, keep the smile on
You will think I am so sweet
No, I won’t hurt your feelings
Don’t be a hater, look at me”
SMO: How does your love of genre-blending manifest in this song?
Raylee: I added elements of the waltz in the chorus, and included a touch of classical sound in the higher harmony to make it more magical!
SMO: How do you think it fits in with your previous releases?
Raylee: Each song I write is meant to have its own personality, and “Mask” achieves that perfectly. Through its tempo shifts and elegant classical elements, it stands out in a truly unique manner. This makes it a special addition among the songs I’ve released so far.
SMO: “Mask” is part of your forthcoming EP. What can you tell us about that project?
Raylee: Sure, my prior release “Puppetry” talks about how we’re manipulated by unspoken societal rules. “Mask” talks about putting up disguises and playing by the rules to embrace one’s authentic self. They both explore the relationship between individuals and society, and I want to keep exploring this theme further.
SMO: Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your work?
Raylee: The EP I am preparing right now, which will be my first, is 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.
“Mask” is streaming now!