#111 Ray Yslas- Percussionist with Chicago, Paul Stanley, Christina Aguilera and More!
Today’s guest is Ray Yslas. Ray is one of modern music’s most accomplished percussionists, appearing frequently on major concerts, recording sessions, music festivals, and on television. He has performed on international tours with platinum artists including Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Willie Nelson, Idina Menzel, Colbie Caillat, Patti Labelle and the Backstreet Boys, and his network TV appearances include The Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Oprah, American Idol, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, and VH-1 Storytellers. Ray is distinguished in the industry by his intuitive musicality and consummate professionalism, and through working with an astonishing spectrum of signature vocalists, he has developed a truly orchestral approach to building his percussive arrangements, by treating each song as a story. Ray developed his musical instincts in the burgeoning Latin music community of Los Angeles, and he has worked with superstars like Juan Gabriel, Luz Casal, Pepe Aguilar, Joan Sebastian and Alejandro Fernandez.
Educational Spotlight for this week……..
Conga Chops has some new lessons up and will be introducing some timbale lessons soon featuring (friend of the show, Marcos Lopez). If you want to know more about Conga Chops, check out THIS INTERVIEW we did with Paolo. There are only 5 spots left to travel to Cuba in March with Aldo Mazza and the Kosa percussion family for the “Fiesta del Tambor”. Scott Kettner, has put up new Brazilian lessons on his World Drum Lessons instructional site. Also, his band Nation Beat, is releasing a new album and you can help them bring it to completion.
For Black History Month, we have the “Official” Discussions in Percussion Spotify Playlist. Also, in place of an “iconic” recording, we have a new album by an iconic artist. Marvin Gaye’s Lost album, which was the ‘What’s Going On’ Follow Up, ‘You’re the Man,’ Set for Release on March 29th. You can Pre-Order it (vinyl too!!!) by clicking HERE.
Music News for this week…..
Soundcloud introduces a new platform to get paid for your plays. Ringo Starr is going on tour AND released a new book. Lonely Island and Seth Rogan are in the works of doing a Fyre Festival parody movie. Meanwhile, Billy McFarland Ordered to Pay $3 Million with Interest to a Defrauded Investor. Universal Music Group could be selling up to 50% of the label. Kanye is getting sued for allegedly using a sample of a child praying without getting permission from the parents. Apple is going to pay the kid who found the Facetime bug. Capcom releases a video game soundtrack playlist to spotify. In addition to the list of blackface scandals, Katy Perry removes shoes from her line. Despite Threats from Michael Jackson’s Family, HBO Moves Forward With ‘Leaving Neverland’ documentary. The Grammys were on Sunday and here is the complete list of nominees and winners.
Ray was born and raised in Los Angeles. He has seven siblings. There are mystical powers if you are born the seventh son of a seventh son.
When Ray started learning the drums, the Chicago Transit Authority (his current employer) was the first album he would practice to.
Ray got the call to play with Chicago from the great Walfredo de los Reyes Jr.
Below is the video Damon refers to where Patti LaBelle couldn’t hear her background singers…..
When Damon feels like he might be getting sick on the road, he takes Zicam.
Here is the Breakfast shake Damon mentions to Ray.
Ray uses Vega in his smoothie/shakes. He also takes a Nutribullet blender on the road in his suitcase to use in his hotel room. Ray’s default late night meal is grilled chicken and some sort of vegetable.
Damon’s top three (non-alcoholic) drink choices at a bar: 1. Pineapple Juice. 2. Cranberry Juice with Ginger Ale. & 3. Orange Juice with Sprite/7up or seltzer.
Damon and Ray talk about various snacks they carry around from Lara bars, to Trail mix, to dried fruit, beef jerky and even mixed nuts.
Ray mentions Al Sourah and his music from the Sudan as a recent find. Other artists in his current rotation are: The Beatles, Ray Barretto, King Sunny Ade, Bow Wow Wow, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Talking Heads, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, & Guaco. Even Grand Funk Railroad, Lady Gaga, Isley Brothers, EWF, and of course Chicago. Ray doesn’t shy away from classical music as well.
Things in Ray’s stickbag (aside from sticks and mallets):
Acme Wind Whistle, old laminates, and even fun size candy bars.
Here’s a shot of Ray’s home studio in the middle of a session.
Damon and Ray talk about the great Aaron Sterling and his technique in recording as well as learning songs quickly.
If you are interested in studying with Ray, he teaches at Pasadena City College.
Shoutout to Califa Farms and their juices and almond milk varieties.