Currently Reading: Porter Ray: Pre-Pop

Before the forthcoming record label responsibilities take a minute to hear this Seattle storyteller in his artistic element…


Everyone wants to talk about Porter Ray being signed to Sub Pop, but his current self-released projects aren’t being shelved. These are his life and times, so as he fits into Seattle’s #newblackwave with more conceptual future visions, this moment is priceless. He’s just telling stories, kicking game and playing a power forward position. All the gloss will come. Still, there’s something about raw. Just ask sushi.

“We not usin’ the same directors and editors as everyone else,” Porter Ray proclaims. “Ideally the videographer and editor are always around, so we got that. It was a process gettin’ people ready to go at the pace we set. Visuals, man. For the web presence, to expand the music at a quicker rate. We did the ‘Fundamentals’ tape with our best shit so far. Doing these visuals is pivotal. We gotta extend the life span of our current projects.”

“I got another coming with Tele Fresco, it’s experimental type shit,” he adds.

This period of being a lab rat is going to pay dividends during Porter Ray’s long career. He’s not hesitant drawing the parallel between distributing his multi-media products and what has traditionally been characterized as the dope game.

“The clientele wants a bag every week, but they callin’ and you got no weed,” Porter Ray explains metaphorically. “We’re callin like ‘we’re back on deck’ and realizing we need to stay on deck. It’s a Rubik’s cube were figuring out. Plus I didn’t go to no college, so I got no experience with time management skills.”

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Leaning on an experienced team of advisors and trusted streetwise generals has guided his ascension. The gigs are paying more, and calls are coming from out of town. Red Bull had him at Sound Select in Portland with Flatbush Zombies. Smaller venues and questionable sound engineers are a right of passage in Seattle. Porter Ray’s done that. Now he’s entitled to more.

“I’m thinkin’ on theatrics I can add to the show and such,” Porter Ray mentions. “As an artist I’ve had to realize I have that control.”

As the pop pressures are now in arm’s reach, his calm demeanor, likability factor, style and panache will all be commodified. Will he be tempted to sing his own hooks and filter-up his vocals in search of a hit?

“Nah,” he said flatly.

Given his propensity for pot references PDA was particularly excited about having that herbal heart-to-heart during our conversation in Rainier Valley.

“I’ll dab when it’s around, my guy wants to do one or somethin’. Only when I’m sure I don’t have shit else to do the rest of the day,” Porter Ray points out. “You meet up with anyone and it’s a courtesy blunt. I’m just trying to stick with sativas during the day and gettin’ off (Swisher) Sweets. Fuck… all the homies blow blunts though. I’m quittin’ blunts every other day. Switchin’ to RAW papers. At least I don’t take blunts to the face anymore.”

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When penning lyrics he stays away from the greenery, preferring to use it for brain- storming and creative marketing ideas.

“I get lost in my thoughts. Gettin’ high fucks up my vocabulary,” Porter Ray shares. “I be forgettin’ words completely. I have to take a break during the day otherwise I’m not answerin’ the phone or emails. I might roll-up to day care, pick up my son and be smellin’ like the shit. I won’t want to talk to anybody.”

Legalization and recreation are all the younger generation will know. That day is coming. Porter Ray’s vignettes about prohibition and pre-teen pot use on our rainy peninsula have a classic quality before they’ve even had time to age. There’s a feeling when you hear him, when you spend some time with his sound.

“I think it’s like when I’m out of town and finding that one cat with a little bit of weed,” Porter Ray says describing his music’s intangible qualities. “You know that feeling. It’s almost nothing now, we take shit for granted.”


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