The candid group, Ayla Ray, comprises longtime Alaskan friends singer-songwriter Sam Tenhoff, bassist-producer Raven Liss, and newly netted drummer-producer Ian McCullough. Evolving their sound from a heavily rock-inspired expanse, Ayla Ray incorporates a medley of electronic, soul and R&B, to attain a distinctive ambiance.
Offering an opportunistic escape from the toxic and overbearing side effects of human industrialization, Ayla Ray releases the breathtaking visuals to their anthem, "See Me In The Trees." A cry for a much-needed separation of self and ego, the song was created for those looking to discover their happy place by finding solace in nature. The astonishing pictures shown in the music video were captured from the stunning landscapes across their home state of Alaska.
"See Me In The Trees" instigates a blood-pumping rush of adrenaline with its rhythmic marching tempo. The electric guitar, bass, and drums, beautifully stratified with rugged vocals, create melodic chaos that transcends the message into a revolution. Sam Tehnoff's uplifting and emotional performance is a heartfelt demonstration of disenchantment towards the current state of society and the ruling it has elected as a norm. Ayla Ray compels their audience to rebel against the status quo and forges their own beliefs, encouraging them to walk their rightful paths and cherish nature's influence on humanity.
As the group strengthens its vocation to reimagine what living truly is, Ayla Ray continues to grow its fanbase of devoted listeners. The group is currently working on their second full-length album and vows to continue pushing boundaries with every note. With an unbridled ambition and refined talents through and through, Ayla Ray invokes a charged-up sense of excitement for what is to come.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Ayla Ray, and congratulations on releasing your music video for "See Me In The Trees." The song has such a powerful message of finding happiness in simplicity and nature. What influenced you to come up with such a compelling message?
Hey, thanks so much for having us! Sam wrote the song's core in one night when we were still in Portland and getting a little worn out on the grind. We ended up returning to Alaska in the spring of 2020, right when everything was going down, and the song only became more relevant for us after that. Hopefully, there's something in there anyone could resonate within the context of their own lives.
How did you come to utilize influences from vastly different genres like rock, soul, R&B, and electronic music?
Well, between the three of us, we have pretty diverse musical interests and very different approaches to writing music or even just translating those influences into our own art. We're lucky enough to have found a stew any of us can feel free throwing ingredients into without getting too wrapped up with the end result. Wherever a new musical idea comes from, that process of refining, collaging, and bouncing it around the band for a while gives it room to find a voice without trying to force anything. Sometimes it doesn't pan out, but if it feels like it's saying something, whatever that is, we're calling it Ayla Ray, haha.
What are some of the benefits of not restraining yourself or your creativity while creating a new sound?
It's just a lot more fun! A tighter relationship between performance and recording is something we're excited to devote more energy into this winter, and that can go both ways. We've started adding more samples, synths, and electronic aspects to the live show. It can be a rewarding challenge to try and figure out how to emulate some heavily edited or glitched-out parts of a recording with your stage setup—bringing that back to the studio with all the energy it picked up out and about creates a pretty inspiring feedback loop.
Why was it so important to you to get all of these different locations, from across Alaska, into your video?
The Trees video was pretty much built around the location as a canvas for expression. Sam initially grew up in Nome with that behemoth of a gold dredge as his backyard jungle gym, and most of the other shots were filmed in yurts that his family's business designs and builds in Homer, where he and Raven met and grew up together. These locations also worked well with the meaning behind the lyrics and the kind of cinematic, anthemic nature of the song as a whole.
The video incorporates some pretty abstract visuals. What is the meaning behind these scenes?
Well, for one, Sam has always been passionate about dancing, and ballet in particular. So it was really rewarding for him to incorporate that into the video. Those segments also feature that psychedelic forest set we plan on including in our live show in the future and built over the last year or so with a certain mad scientist prop wizard who shall remain anonymous. Raven and Ian have both been expanding their contributions on various instruments, including the duo guitar leads in this song. We also worked again on this one with our good friend and badass videographer/producer Sean Sisson, who always has a great creative eye for artistic editing. This was just one we wanted to have fun with. It turned out to be a sort of cinematic collage.
As a whole, what message do you wish to convey to your audience and prospective listeners?
Putting this video out has felt a little strange, to be honest. I believe your teaser article a few days ago was headlined "Ayla Ray Invites Us To Part Ways With The Ego," and we're there sharing and posting it like, "Hey everybody, look at what we made!" It can be hard to reconcile the nature of promotion and social media with a song that says, "You don't have to be so on display." We just want to invite whoever listens to take a breath and find time to connect with their own happy place. I think those moments you take to the center and get in touch with yourself can lead to more honest and positive efforts when heading back out to engage with the world.
What's next for Ayla Ray?
Well, we actually filmed two music videos back to back this last spring with Sean. We're pumped on the next one as well, so keep an eye out for that! As we're all aware, the state of the world these days has made live shows a bit dicey... We're probably going to stay up in the trees for a little while and delve deep into recording the new album and getting our live set dialed to hit the ground running!