From the brain of multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker Alex Cherney, Rey is an indie-rock project all the way from New York, USA. Following the well-received single ‘Augustine’, Rey releases the ‘The Bees Trees’ – the latest single off his debut album The Thing About Everywhere. We speak to Cherney about ‘The Bees Trees’, the official video and what he does in his spare time.
OSR: Jumping right into it, what is the backstory to ‘The Bees Trees’?
Rey: Diving in head first! I like it!
I wrote this one after a perfect day. The looping bass line and melody came into ma head during a beach walk the next morning. I started thinking about what made the day before so special. Being a natural people-pleaser, I always find myself adapting to certain energies and situations. Yesterday I felt entirely connected to being myself and everything just fell into place. I was out in nature with great friends, but what really made it stand out was allowing my energy to just exist without filtering how I behaved. It was liberating. The song is about realising that everything comes to me when I reliquish control and listen to who I am meant to be.
OSR: If you could change on thing about the single what would it be and why?
Rey: I love that question! This happens quite often but after I finish a track and listen a bunch, I hear other parts that I’m like, “oh shit, I wish I thought of this earlier!” In this case, it’s some funky palm-muted guitar that enters sporadically just to add some more buzzin’ bees to the song.
OSR: What was the writing and recording process like for ‘The Bees Trees’?
Rey: I actually first wrote this song three years ago and developed it with my musical buddy Kevin Choumane and then-band Sweet Mohana. When putting my album together it was all about finding an endless summer vibe and this track just couldn’t be left out.
We had never recorded this song, but I made a demo for it. When recording the album version I actually used a few takes from that demo (the lead guitar and bass). If you listen to the record you’ll notice the lead guitar on this track has a different tone than others on the album. I can’t remember how exactly I recorded that, but I think it was a Strat through a Fender Deville amp. With that, I recorded drums, acoustic and vocals which lyrically I didn’t change a bit. I always double-track my acoustic and triple-track my vocals with my ribbon mic.
OSR: You released a music video for the single. What can you tell us about it?
Rey: It was such a fun day! The vision that director Remrock, my manager Evan and I came up with was to recreate the perfect day that the song is about.
One fun anecdote is when we were filming my performance scenes in the Long Island Sound, the tide was completely out of control. So Evan and Remrock had to brace themselves and hold onto the unicorn float while filming. You can see it in a few takes, but I definitely just started laughing at the whole situation a few times.
OSR: What other challenges did you face when filming the video?
Rey: Remrock is a master cinematographer and was always looking for a certain light. Being in the right place at the right light was a challenge!
OSR: Who inspires your sound?
Rey: I’m heavily influenced by the tried and true giants of yesteryear – The Beach Boys, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bob Marley. I listen to Bob Marley every single day. I was really inspired by music as a mood lifter for this album and Bob was the master of that. Also, definitely Whitney, The War on Drugs and Bedouine.
OSR: What do you do in your spare time?
Rey: I build things (95% done with my tiny house!), make movies (my last feature Santamaria is on Amazon), and lately I’ve been really into scents – essential oils, candles, palo santo. Right before this I was shopping on Etsy for some Frankincense Resin, highly recommend it. I feel completely recharged after a few sniffs of that! *laughs*
OSR: How are you dealing with the Covid-19 restrictions?
Rey: Argh you know, strange days. I’m dealing well though. Have been lucky enough to be at my parents place out on Long Island which is surrounded by nature, so I never get too cooped up.
OSR: Do you think this pandemic will have a long-term effect on the music scene?
Rey: People in my life would call me blindly optimistic, but definitely.
In my opinion, indoor concerts will be seriously severed and there will be a big push to outdoors, which might make concert-going seasonal in certain areas. Maybe we can get heat lamps or heat mats would be cool.. should we invent little mats for two people to stay warm on so outdoor music can thrive in winter??
OSR: What is your favourite smell and why that smell?
Rey: Smells!! I’ve just been fascinated by them lately. While I’m really into Frankincense, I also have a thing for nostalgic smells. I have an essential oil ‘Nectarine Peel’ that I came across in my mom’s collection one day and I swear right when I smelled it I was transported back to being six years old. I think my mom must have diffused that oil when I was a kid. Happy times reading Harry Potter with her on a red fold-out couch come to mind, but scent memory is very powerful and wonderful!
OSR: Do you have any message for our readers?
Rey: You can empathise with others without taking on their energy. I’ve always struggled with this, and if you do too, you can find that balance of deep understanding without feeling affected by another’s situation. Still constantly working on it, along with letting go. Is that what you meant? *laughs*
Maybe, listen to my album!! Retro summer positive vibes with strong nature themes!