Corey Gray joins the likes of Savannah Outen, Jake Coco, Taylor Watts and others as one of YouTube’s most popular cover artists. Often found working in collaboration with Coco and Watts, Gray is releasing his third EP, Puzzles, on September 1, 2015. Talk Nerdy recently got to chat with the artist on his upcoming projects, what it’s like working with Coco and Watts, and more!
Read our interview below.
To start things off, tell us a little bit about Keep Your Soul Records and how you got involved with the label.
“I moved to California when I was twenty. Actually, just about to turn twenty, from Texas, and a buddy of mine had started a website that kind of linked together all of his friends. He had a bunch of really talented friends that he really liked working with and stuff. He was more of just a PR guy and he just wanted to give his friends a stage, so, he started a website and put everybody together and tried a bunch of different videos. He went around, getting a bunch of content, and then just created a place where people who didn’t have any fans were doing things with people who were on Disney shows, or little side things, or had some following that they could push his brand too.
After maybe three months of doing that, he introduced me to Jake Coco who had just started Keep Your Soul Records. I remember we went to the studio for a different reason all together. We went there for a writing session for a completely different artist and Jake pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to record one of my songs. I didn’t know that he even knew that I made songs, which was weird. We went ahead and did that and then over the next couple of weeks I got approached with the thought of signing with them and getting started making music. Then I just kind of kept doing it. [laughs].”
Did you know Tay (Watts) from Texas, or did you guys meet in LA?
“No we actually met in LA. It’s weird. I’ve met a lot of people who were from the same area as me after I moved out here, that I didn’t know back there. He’s from Houston, I was in Dallas. Texas is a big place.”
How long have you been playing music and writing?
“I’ve been playing drums since I was nine and guitar since I was 12. I’ve been writing since I started playing guitar.”
Is there an instrument that you don’t play currently that you would like to still learn?
“Mandolin. That’s a weird one, but after producing stuff, it’s such a useful instrument I’ve found out.”
You write your own music, but you also collaborated with Tay. What is your process for writing? What’s it like writing your own stuff and then helping another artist with theirs?
“It’s really fun because I’ve written for myself for so long that I’ve developed my own thing and my own voice. Then having the chance to write with somebody else who has a different voice…sometimes it’s harder and sometimes it’s actually way easier because you kind of get out of your own head about how it is going to be perceived. You just get to come up with this idea for a song for somebody else that has this whole different style than you and it’s a lot of fun. Honestly, I really like it a lot.”
Do you have a favorite lyric that you’ve written?
“It’s a really simple one. It’s more of a fun lyric. This is just one of my favorites from recently. I was actually working on a song with Tay, and we were writing about having somebody over and you wake up the next day and they are still there, but it’s a rainy day in LA and there is no where to go. The lyric was “you had a class at twelve, but Scooby Doo came on.” It’s the simplest little thing, but I love Scooby Doo, first of all, or I did when I was a kid…kind of still do.”
You still do. It’s okay to admit that.
“Well, you know. I wrote that lyric and I was like we have to keep that! Tay and I wrote a bunch and then we kind of let it sit for a little while and then we brought what we had worked on to Jake and he did his own little thing with it on the production side. I just the whole time was like “we have to keep that lyric though.” Just so you guys know, Scooby Doo is staying in the song!”
You have a lot of shows coming up, including the one on the 22nd! What is your pre or post show ritual for when you have a concert?
“I mean beforehand I just try to keep focused and try to make sure I know everything and remember it all and worry about not forgetting things. Then, after the show, I always like to be with everybody that was at the show for as long as I can that night. We just kind of hang out and celebrate the fact that it happened because as long as it went smoothly, or if it went terribly, or whatever happened, it still happened. Before, it was me just going out with just my acoustic guitar and playing and stuff, but now I’ve finally got a band. I’m playing with them and it’s just a really good feeling to finish a show and know everything went well and everybody had a good time. It’s a lot more fun to play music with people on stage and have that energy with you up there to do everything. By the time I get off stage it’s like this really awesome feeling I just want to kind of going. I end up not being able to sleep all night and just stay excited about it. Usually just kind of being with everybody that was there and celebrating honestly.”
Can you tell us about your upcoming show at Molly Malones?
“Yeah! It’s this Saturday! I’m going to be with the band again. We’ve been working on putting together an almost, mostly new set because the last show we played was the first show with the band and everything, so we got a certain set prepared and everything. For this show, we wanted to make sure we kind of brought a lot of new things to it. We’ve got a couple covers that we didn’t have before that I think are really going to bring the crowd to life just because they are songs that really resonate with people. We brought a couple of new originals to it. I’m really just excited. Also, Tay is playing with us too. He’s actually going to open up the show. My bassist actually has his band going on after us, so there are going to be a lot of friends there that night. A lot of acts playing that we are all friends with.
Tay goes on at 9:00, I go on at 10:00, and then Bo goes on at 11:00 after us.”
What is your favorite and least favorite cover that you’ve done?
“My least favorite cover is Rolling in the Deep, which was a long time ago, probably I guess like three years ago.”
“Sometimes, it just doesn’t really come out the way you want it to. You decide you want to sing a song and every artist has different little tricks that they do with their voice and stuff that sometimes work better for other people and sometimes it’s just never going to happen for others. Adele is obviously one of the best vocalists out there, but trying to sing Rolling in the Deep, it just had a range to it that made it a really really tough song to sing and so, in order to finish it, it just wasn’t really what I wanted.
I think my favorite one was probably The Reason by Hoobastank, honestly. That song used to play on the radio so much, that I got so sick of it and then I completely forgot about it. Then we went…it was me, Jake and Taylor that did a cover of it and just something about doing it with those guys anyway, it’s just fun to work with them. The way the song came out, I just really enjoyed it.”
Out of you, Taylor and Jake, who is the best at darts?
“Probably me. [Laughs]. I mean, Taylor would say to you that he was, but ask him who won the last game we played.”
That answer would be you?
“Yes, but to be fare, he definitely beat me a lot of times before that. Maybe he used to be the best, but I’m definitely catching up.”
Are you currently working on a new EP?
“I actually just finished working on another EP called Puzzles. We just shot the first video for the first single off of that EP called SMS which stands for Save My Soul. That should be coming out really really soon. I’m really really excited about it. As an artist you put out content…they call it the hourglass theory. Where as a creator, if you have good taste, you don’t always consider things that you do good, just because you can tell the difference between somebody who has been making music forever and is really great at it versus what you’re making. It just comes with experience. I think the hourglass theory talks about how eventually you pass that point. I love the songs I’ve made and I love performing them and singing them, and I’ve got a couple that I’m definitely going to love forever and I’ve always thought were great. But this is the first EP where I feel like every song on it is really up to par with what I wanted it to be in my head when I first came up with the idea.”
How many tracks are going to be on Puzzles?
“This one has four.”
What are the titles?
“There is one called Somebody. There is Save My Soul. There is Give You Up and there is Slow Down.”
Do you have one honestly that your most excited for people to hear, or are you just excited for them to hear the whole thing in general?
“I’m definitely excited for them to hear the whole thing in general, but if I was going to pick one, it would probably be Somebody. It is a really upbeat track with horns and it’s a really really exciting song.”
Ghost Buster? Bill Murray.
Disney character? Genie from Aladdin.
App? Probably Instagram.
Book? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
TV show? Parks and Rec.
Superhero? Definitely Batman.
Favorite song? Right now Lean On by Major Lazer.
Tell me two truths and one lie about you.
“I can juggle. I did the 300 meter hurdles in track. I can play the trumpet.”
Fans now it’s your turn to vote for which answer you thinks is the lie! Follow @TalkNerdyWithUs to find out the correct answer!