Philadelphia-based artist, Kitty Ray, is a songwriter, vocalist, producer and owner of the record label Pretty Wavvy. Ray gained popularity in the internet DIY scene in the early 2010s and found her career accelerated by the Rolling Stone’s ranking of her song “Okay Cupid” at number 17 out of the 50 best songs of 2012. This, and her other solo music, are under the project name Kitty, but Ray is also a vocalist in the band Teen Suicide as well as the electronic duo she formed with her husband, Sam Ray, professionally known by his own solo moniker Ricky Eat Acid, the Pom-Poms. These projects encompass a wide range of genres, but Ray’s solo work is focused around avant-synth pop and alternative. In June 2020, she released her latest solo extended play (EP) entitled “Charm and Mirror.”
Ray wrote, produced and mastered the entirety of “Charm and Mirror” herself with the exception of the track, “It Never Hurts,” featuring Teen Suicide, a song originally started by her husband, that the pair finished together and then had mastered by a friend, Jesse Cannon. The five-track EP is a slightly more ambient return to her earlier solo work, similar to her debut 2017 pop album, “Miami Garden Club,” and markedly different from her other forays into an almost alternative hip-hop feel with songs like “Barbie J33p” and “Unfollowed.”
In continuity with her previous work, however, the EP is lyrically and thematically centered around a focused curation of mood and imagery. “Mirror and Charm” certainly has a reflective, pensive feel, as if processing past isolation and anxiety while simultaneously feeling slightly distanced from it. The opening track “Baby Pink” is ostensibly light and bubbly, but also seems to hint at a certain veneer or facade. This track, “Bath Salts” and “Afterglow” all explore vague frustration and restlessness, the contemplative theme augmented by the EP’s ambient tone. “It Never Hurts” stands out both lyrically and stylistically, featuring distinctive instrumentals with a more nostalgic feel, as well as a different lyrical angle than the rest of the EP.
From the EP’s release in June through July 2020, Ray donated 100 percent of the Bandcamp profits to Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (G.L.I.T.S.) in support of trans sex workers. As an OnlyFans creator herself, this gesture set a favorable example for other celebrities who benefit from backgrounds and aesthetics originating from sex workers. This move was especially timely because only about a month later, celebrity creator, Bella Thorne, was met with backlash for gentrifying the OnlyFan’s platform by misleading the public for money without acknowledging the plight of survival sex workers. Glamorous or romanticized allusions of strip club aesthetics are also becoming increasingly popular in music videos and promotional media, exemplified by artists such as FKA Twigs and Lana del Rey, so setting a precedent of centering and giving back to these often-marginalized communities is a meaningful standard other artists will hopefully adopt in the future.
Ray’s music is available for streaming on the usual Spotify and Apple Music services, but she is also active on Bandcamp, Patreon and Discord, where she shares exclusive music extras and tarot readings with her girlfriend, Kate. Links and more details can be found on her Twitter account, @kittaveli.