Five Questions with Conray ‘Rey’ Richards
To watch Shady Squad’s Conray Richards caper and bounce in the middle of a party will probably leave a non-dancer awestruck. His movements are effortless, his energy booms louder than the heaviest bass speaker, and his face always has the brightest smile. A professional dancer, Richards, or Rey – the name he is known by in the streets – holds a diploma in Music and Performance from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
He has worked alongside multiple local and international hit-makers in music videos like Boyz by MIA; Good Girl Gone Bad, by Tarrus Riley and Konshens; Find Your Love, by Drake; and Show Off by Shenseea and Samantha J. However, he is now taking on a new quest – as a recording artiste – a process that he describes as “poles apart from dancing”. The dancer-turned-artiste, with the full support of the Shady Squad, has collaborated with reggae-dancehall entertainer, Bay-C, on two tracks, Bunx And Galang and Yardie Bunx . The lyrical concepts of both songs have been around the dance moves, as Rey attempts to fuse his love of dancing and singing.
Describe your vocal style?
My singing is a bit on the melodic side, but I would describe my overall sound as versatile. I am able to do other genres, but for me, the main musical influences come from roots-reggae music and dancehall, as well R&B.
What are some of the challenges faced in your transition from dancer to recording artiste?
With recording music, the process is different, because a song does not exist without a rhythm but one can have a dance without anything else. The choreography is not dependent on the music but is enhanced by it. The rules are simply different in terms of what allows you to get a finished product. Using my body to speak versus vocals, I cannot say one is easier. Both still pose challenges that involve a lot of work, commitment, and time to reach a certain level; not to mention the resources that you need in creating a song are totally different from those needed for a dance. Plus, I am not seasoned in the community as an artiste so it is difficult to get the acceptance one would hope for within that role but over time, the talent will speak for itself.
Was it intentional to make the first two songs of your music catalogue about dance moves?
Creating songs around the dance moves was not intentional. Dancing is one of the ways I have been able to express my own creativity. It is the closest thing to home for me, so it is a good place to start, but as for the destination, I plan to branch off into topics like love and social commentary and other genres. The aim is to share more with the cultural community utilising what I learned in school. I believe the more opportunities or ways you give an audience to be involved in what you doing, whether through the rhythm used, lyrics, or seeing you in action, all play a part in the communication of the culture, thus taking it a level further.
Do you believe that there are enough educational institutions locally for dancers?
While there are not many tertiary institutions that offer certification and degrees in the area, there is a lot one can learn from simply taking on the challenge to find one. Right now, Edna Manley is the most prominent, but the school can only accept so many students and no more. However, there are other platforms and spaces to get educated, including dance groups and small classes.
What is one thing your fans would be surprised to know about you?
Maybe, the type of music I listen to in my downtime. It ranges from Bob Marley for his lyrical content and how the melodies are constructed, simple but impactful, to Otis Redding. I like his These Arms Are Mine track. It’s not just about the genre of songs, the emotion and the soul behind the music matters.