December/January 2024

by Silke Hartung

Fresh Talent: Ray Leslie

by Silke Hartung

Fresh Talent: Ray Leslie

Philippine-born artist Marie Gaabucayan has released music under several different names in the past, but having settled into the performer guise of Ray Leslie the talented and dynamic Tāmaki Makaurau rapper is about to deliver on a series of exciting projects.

“Right at the moment I’m finishing up an EP set to release at the start of next year. We’re planning to do a video per track and premiere the project as a film so, at the moment, lots of filming! I’ve also just been doing lots of projects with my collective – hosting writing camps and kickstarting our audio project ‘Good Morning FM’.”

Abraham Kunin has produced the majority of the new Ray Leslie EP, with one track produced by long-time collaborator Danny Do.

“Beyond his amazing producing skills, I’ve really appreciated Abe’s wisdom and openness to create which has helped me expand my own artistry. With Danny and the rest of the Light Beings – Yong Kweon, Kiwa Muru, Hsarhoo Moo, Marc Tolentino and Jarem Cabamongan – I’m essentially working with my friends the whole time, so I appreciate getting to enjoy the process of making art and making memories.

“As a collective, we have been focusing more on building a community from the ground up. Setting an intention that connection is the primary goal and trying to let our art, our projects and initiatives reflect that. In the summer we’ll have lots of things to show for with our audio project coming out. We’ll have four or five episodes with different guests and that will be out on YouTube and most streaming platforms. We also have been facilitating a writers’ camp and will potentially have a few releases from the artists in that soon, and maybe an event to showcase what we’ve made in that process.”

The most recent Ray Leslie single, Who Do You See?, was released with a video directed and produced by Luke Penney, quite evidently with help from an extensive crew.

“We shot the video in two days, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had on set! That weekend alone was my favourite part about making Who Do You See?. Musically the entire beat is incredible, but I think just the freedom of melody, switching between singing and rapping is my favourite part of that song.”

Leading into 2024 she teases another single ready to drop.

“It’s with one of my favourite rappers in Aotearoa right now, Awggey. It’ll be the second single preluding my EP, so keep an eye out for that. Dope visuals with it too.”