The hypnotic, wayward wanderings of REGAN REAY’s debut Tidal Reach leave a breezy, light hearted feeling in the air. Describing his EP as a collection “warm vocals and punchy acoustic guitar, layered against drum machines and wonky melodies,” the Wirral-born songwriter is subtly magnetising when beckoning the listener’s attention with his effortless, heartfelt meanderings.
The mellow, groove-laden collection of songs on Tidal Reach echoes Regan’s young writing prowess, most notably demonstrated in inclusions of songs he penned at the age of 16. “One of my favourite songs to perform from my EP is Dreams,” he explains while referencing the jovial, sun-kissed number. “It’s about following your dreams, keeping hope even if your life is not running on track and encouraging the idea that good things won’t happen without you putting in care and hard work. This song means a lot to me.” His musical storytelling guides us into another layer of his character through Summer’s Over, a song sprinkled with Regan’s buoyant honesty, a lament to another youthful, carefree summer lost.
Looking back towards the moment where his musical passion began to crystallise, Reay notes his years growing up through the Foster care system as a pivotal moment in his endeavour. “I began to use it as something to fight my pain”, he tells us, “I was listening to music to find peace in myself.” He pinpoints attending an Audiojunk gig at the Zanzibar Club five years ago as the moment that animated his drive to perform. “I wanted to give other people that same feeling I had watching them,” he says of the formative experience.
Reay’s inspiration is drawn mostly from a variety of musical genres. He names The Beach Boys, T Rex, Tupac and The Beatles as the dominant influential forces in his writing. “Finding out that The Beatles were from Merseyside sparked a lot of inspiration and gave me some great ideas to use in my own music,” he adds. “I was handed down a full-size guitar and was determined to write as well as the artists I looked up too. I locked myself in my room until I could do it and haven’t stopped since.”
Supplanting the range and depth of his influences into his own sound is a telling sign of his upbringing, and the emotions he went through. “I feel like everything I experience,” he starts, “the good and the bad, brings me new inspiration to put into my music.” Describing an experience at 2016’s Bennicasim Festival in Barcelona as one of the best moments in his life, Regan’s knack for writing catchy melodies is discreetly drawn from his admiration for Kendrick Lamar. “He has been one of my favourite artists for a long time,” says Regan. “I went there that year mainly for him. I was so concentrated on this dude taking over the stage with his band full of jazz and rock’n roll mixed into hip hop, it was incredible to be able to see the words fly out like bullets.”
Growing up across the water from Liverpool has not only influenced Regan musically and creatively, but has been the place where he’s met likeminded musicians such as Borth, who produced his EP and accompanied him at his most memorable performance, Regan’s first headline gig at EBGBS. “It is a great place for both new and more established artists to let out their energy. The vibes were perfect.”
Shaped by authentic assertion, Regan places the importance of music in his life as the “window to express art and emotion”. Music as escapism is a theme Regan frequently illustrates when describing his process: “When you are able to capture a specific feeling within your writing, the same emotions can be rediscovered through playing the piece again in time. Music speaks to everyone, regardless of age, gender, race and location in our world. No matter how much you are suffering, music can always heal you in some way.”
Tidal Reach is out now.