Today we are premiering the music video for singer/songwriter Rory McRae’s debut single, “Romance Song”, under his new moniker of StingRae. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing McRae for years now and have been looking forward to him sharing his solo music with the world. I’m also one of the few people who can say that they heard an early version of “Romance Song” a few years back. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Rory about, “Romance Song” the origins of StingRae, and what’s next from his solo project.
Tell us about your musical background.
My earliest introduction to music was singing and dancing to the radio with my late father in the kitchen as a child. Growing up we would crank up the music from various blues and classic rock artists. Guys like Lenny Kravitz and Van Morrison stick out in my memory. I figure it was only a matter of time before I decided to dive deeper into music.
After starting on trumpet, I quickly picked up the bass. In no time, I was known as the quintessential bassist in horrible punk bands before developing a more proper sense of songwriting with folk and alternative music. As I began to explore songwriting, I started utilizing guitar, piano and my voice to fill out my creative toolbox.
What inspired you to launch your solo project StingRae?
After graduating college and starting a career as an engineer, I became relatively inactive as a musician. After a year or so without much of a musical outlet, I was approached with the opportunity to join a professional cover band Bourbon Outfitters. I give those guys huge credit and thanks for getting me back into music!
Sadly, the pandemic hit when Bourbon Outfitters were hitting full stride amidst a string of successful gigs. Like so many others, we were forced out of doing what we love. At this point, I had been writing songs for so long and doing absolutely nothing with them. It took a few low points during a lonely pandemic to really scratch the itch to do something with them. Insert StingRae.
What inspired your debut single “Romance Song”?
Oh boy, I will not tell on myself by sharing any names, but the song was written for and about an old romantic interest. The song was originally started as an attempt to finally be my declaration of romance to her, but I became sort of a parody of myself and coincidentally fell victim to the same comedy of errors that you hear in the lyrics of the song. We never worked out; however, I was able to take a more honest approach to the song by revisiting and finishing it later. As opposed to the song becoming a grand declaration of love, it became a more relatable story about how I wanted so badly to prove myself with all these romantic gestures only to lack the maturity to make any of the right moves in the end. I love that almost every line in the song can be traced back to a specific moment in my personal history. If nothing else, I am honest.
Tell us about the recording process for “Romance Song.”
This is a cool question to answer because I got to record “Romance Song” with one of my childhood best friends, Brad Feeney. With a pandemic still raging, the song was recorded almost entirely by the two of us in his old studio in our hometown of Plymouth, MA. I swear he just makes the recording process so much fun, but never at the expense of the music. I cannot say enough things about the work he has contributed to this song and my whole project. Once our melodies were totally flushed out and tracked, I had recorded every instrument by myself, but I cannot drum to save my life. Luckily, I had some amazing support from another great friend Pat Fey who did a phenomenal job holding down the rhythm of this song. It was a total blessing to have so much fun recording my music with such talented friends. Shout out to Brad and Pat!
Tell us a little bit about the creation of the “Romance Song” music video.
My videographer Ben Eaton was amazing! You might start seeing a theme, but Ben is another old friend of mine. We developed the idea for the video together. We portray parallel visual concepts in the music video. One where I was presenting the song to the subject of my romantic interest, and one where I was performing the song in isolation. By beginning and ending the song with me in isolation, it really drives home the message that all this grandeur was imaginative, and I would fall victim to my same old habits. I also must give a huge shout out to Alisa Fong for doing a phenomenal job as an actress for this video. Her nonchalance in playing the role of a romantic interest in a couple scenes with me was incredible!
Are you planning on performing live when shows return?
Absolutely! I look forward to crafting live versions of my songs and performing them in front of an audience. I am currently putting together a great band of talented musicians to contribute, and I cannot wait to share the stage with them.
Who is an underrated artist from the Greater Lowell Scene that you think deserves more attention?
I really have two artists in mind that I would love to plug here. First, The Shirts and Shoes just keep putting out music that is more impressive with every release. Another artist is Doomsy, who has strong ties to Lowell (although he has recently relocated to Boston). I am just blown away by the uniqueness of his sound and how he blends different genres into his lofi-pop style.
So what’s next for StingRae?
I have a whole EP of exciting material being mixed right now! The EP will be called Words in My Head, and will include “Romance Song” as well as some other songs that incorporate genres like folk, funk, and R&B. I cannot wait to share this music that I have been holding on to for so long and am even more excited to play them in front of live crowds!