artist feature :: ray caesar

[a warm thankyou to ray caesar for taking the time to share how music influences his creative process and for contributing to musicisart. living in toronto, canada, ray creates artwork from past experiences of living through life’s different patterns and working eighteen years at toronto’s hospital for sick children. by pushing boundries of incorporating what he has seen and emotionally felt into his very own catharsis, ray portrays such delicate digital details of gentle imagery. its not difficult at all to realize that these whimsical masterpieces come directly from his soul.]

I actually listen to a lot of Japanese Minyo, ancient country, mountain and wild festival music.

Here is a sample:: The Yoshiwara by Toshinori Kondo

I am English but grew up in a Japanese family since 15 when I met my wife Michiko. Her grandparents, who lived until their late 90s and were born during the 19th century, listened to this music and I got addicted to it. I have an old tape they made for me and there is the ticking of an old alarm clock next to the recorder they used, and you can hear them bickering in the background about whether or not they should go downstairs to get a cup of tea. They were both close to 97 when they made the tape ….it’s my favorite.

I also listen to some Japanese Enka (Japanese Blues of the 1960s). Ha! I love old renditions of Civil War songs, British and French Navy songs and hornpipes of the 19th century, just about anything done on a harpsichord or spinnet. Anything by Bach. I love all Gospel music and spend an inordinate amount of time listening to the Chants of Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos.

Foreign music …French singers of the 1960s, Bulgarian Women’s music, German music of the 1930s, Indian meditative music, all manner of Brazilian music. Sifting through any form of ancient music, in fact I end up listening to Indonesian Gamelan even though I actually don’t like it very much. I just keep ending up at concerts and having to force myself to sit thru them. Also, like the sound of music in antique music boxes and anything that sounds like Rudy Vallee thru an old microphone.

.A Personal Collection of Favorites.

Something Cool by June Christy [something cool, 1953]
The Last Dance by Jackie Gleason [romantic moods, 1955]
Gnossiennes No. 4 by Erik Satie [after the rain, 1983]
Skylark by Gene Ammons [gentle jug, 1961]
Whoa Back, Buck by Leadbelly [mount everest of blues, 1959]
O Mio Babbino Caro by Miriam Gauci [gianni schicchi, 1918]
Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Part [alina, 1978]

As you can see much of the music I listen to is from the past which fits with my work, but I do sift through a great deal of current sounds also. Unfortunately I don’t listen to music when I create … I need silence and that’s the only way I have been able to create images as I often put myself in a very “open-minded state”. Its like my mind whispers things to me and if I have too much noise I cant taste or touch those soft sounds in my mind …that’s the best way I can explain it. I often think silence has a very nice sound to it also and is actually full of sound.

Making images for me is mixed up with the fact that I have a condition called Sleep Paralysis and when I wake I cant move, but I see either “visions” or “hallucinations” or hear things in my “minds eye” depending on what you choose to believe.

I have no interest if people believe that or not or what they think of it as I am not looking for a rational explanation of what causes it, although I think it has something to do with narcolepsy.

I am an artist and I use the irrational nature of it for what I do and it has little to do with belief and a lot more to do with acceptance …and I am fucking tired of keeping quiet about it as I have done for most of my life. I let other people argue over what it is about and I just experience it. If I examine it too much, the lucid state goes away and although it can be very frightening it is also quite wonderful.

I have had it in various forms since childhood. I mainly listen to music when doing a repetitive function that doesn’t require me to keep my mind on track or when trying to relax my mind, that helps the creative process. I’ve noticed that after lucid dreams and episodes of sleep paralysis I might become very interested in a type of music I wasn’t interested in before, that I could wake up tomorrow morning and just have to download some polka or maybe even some Liberace.

art, words & playlist by ray caesar

About The Author


“One glimpse is all it takes to tell you that Music Is Art is something special. You can start by judging this blog by its cover—it’s one of the best-designed, most aesthetically aware music blogs around—but there’s much more to it than just a pretty template. For one, Danielle Maree, the “dreamer/designer” behind MIA, focuses not only on excellent music, but on art, photography and writing and how they all intersect and inform the music. By sharing the sounds and sights that inspire her, she’s inspiring a growing number of readers on a daily basis. By documenting artists’ creative processes, she’s, in the process, creating a pretty substantial, always-evolving work of art herself.” - Nerd Litter

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18 Responses

  1. The Fabulist

    The artwork in this post is amazing. I’ve been spending time discovering the music on this blog and I must say I enjoy it.

  2. sebalaura

    Thanks once more for the beautiful art and music, this blog is always a source of inspiration. Ray Caesar is a great visionary artist, gifted with a very intriguing imagination and amazing skill in turning it into eerily detailed and atmospheric portraits. I’d love to ask him some technical questions about his work…

  3. tommy

    Not much on my mind today. What can I say? I’ve just been sitting around waiting for something to happen. But I found your site and became happy!

  4. Marie

    Your blog amazes me… Thank you so much for posting diverse music from the past, Spiegel is tearing my heart to shreds right now! I’m in complete awe right now.

    A million thanks….

  5. ashley jackson-pierce

    PS! ray caesar’s biography at his website is amazing. the entire site design (oh, the galleries!) is, really. again, great great great post!

  6. ashley jackson-pierce

    i love this post so much.

    a) leadbelly! he’s from this area in louisiana and there’s a nice statue of him about an hour from here in downtown shreveport. my favorite leadbelly songs are ain’t it a shame, sukey jump, and where did you sleep last night. he’s a legend.

    b) i downloaded erik satie’s gnossiennes no. 4 after listening to it here and i LOVE it. it is so soothing and beautiful – i’ve had it on repeat for the past day. thank you so much for the link — i would never have found him otherwise.

    c) i love these works, esp. the second to last of the girl in blue. i suffer from sleep paralysis (although not often, thank god) and after reading about it here i can totally see the connection in these paintings. beautiful and creepy. some of the faces remind me of christina ricci in ghost world.

  7. Reiko

    I love the works of Ray Caesar. I think they’re just amazing. Thanks for posting!

  8. Carrie

    Danielle, I love these features that you have designed. MusicIsArt has introduced me to so many unbelieveable artists and it is such a cure to my own writer’s block. Thanks for all the beauty and inspiration you put into what you do!

  9. M!

    great post. great music. great art.

    sleep paralysis creeps up on me quite often. it’s something i can’t explain really. it’s just something i experience as well. at times it’s really scary because the majority of the time i hallucinate. a lot of the times figures stare over my bed. or what i think is my dad morphs into something else. theres static. pianos playing at 3am. people knocking on the window. voices. sometimes i’ve felt like i was having a seizure. i’ve learned to control myself now. i used to freak out. but now i just let it happen. i wake up the next morning with a lot of ideas.

  10. Ray Caesar

    Hi Danielle

    Thanks for a great page …I didn’t know you were actually going to put the music here when you emailed me. Pleasant surprise.

    Hey mjrc …. Something Cool makes a great lullaby …back in the 1960s My Old Dad used to play June Christy and many other bands and singers late at night and my room was on the other side of his record player of the thin wall of our apartment …so I suppose those old crooners used sing me to sleep too. Ha! he used to fall asleep with a beer and Cigarette in his hand and leave the record on repeat until my mom got home at …..happy days.


  11. mjrc

    “something cool” is one of my favorite songs of all time. i sing it as a lullaby to my children. i learned it when i was in college and it has stuck with me all these years. music from the past that tells stories is such a faithful and generous companion. when i listen to the music in your playlist and look at your art, there is a real connection. : )

  12. jack

    Sleep paralysis is something I could do without, there are sufficient terrors in the waking day to preoccupy me. I have experienced it –in tiny doses, thankfully — and well remember the stricken sense of being overpowered that it induced. Congratulations on the honesty of your writing.

    BTW, any chance of finding out the name of the artist on the Satie piece?

  13. Deedra

    You art work is absolutely breathtaking and stunning, you are very blessed. So perfect is your work, this article was a great read. I have that sleep problem too sometimes it is scary, but I never thought of it as something I could use as a tool….
    Keep up the brilliant work!
    Deedra 😛

  14. Joan

    I just want to say that your site just heightens the remarkable writer/artist you have become. You put so much of your heart into everything you do. Excuse those few that have no class and understanding of your appeal, and leave disheartening words. Remember the admirers (over 3500 a day) that adore you…….I adore you also.

  15. Aly

    Hello… I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this “issue.” I love Ray Caesar, and when I saw that is who you were featuring, I just had to come and visit. It was great. I love how you set up your page…

    Thank you for the time you spend doing it.