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We recently had the chance to chat with Raye Zaragoza who recently released her music video for her song “American Dream.” During the interview, Zaragoza talks about her sounds, the inspiration behind “American Dream”, upcoming projects, and more!

1. How did you get your start in the music industry?

I started writing songs to cope with insomnia when I was 18 years old, and had just moved out of my parents home. I thought I wanted to be an actress, but as soon as songwriting came to me – I never looked back. My first gigs were in North Hollywood at the farmer’s market and at The Republic of Pie. As soon as I started playing gigs six years ago, I was playing multiple times a week. At these early gigs, I met a lot of the people that I still work with today including Justin Hergett who mixed & helped produce the Fight For You album.

2. How would you describe your sound?

That’s always a hard question! I guess I would describe my sound as contemporary pop singer-songwriter with classic folk influence.

3. Who are some of your favorite artists?

I love classic rock – The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. I also love songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Elliott Smith.

4. What inspires your music?

People I meet, places I see, and issues that I observe. Usually anything that has a deep emotional effect on me. I’m not the kind of songwriter that can think of an interesting topic to write a song about and then just write it. Usually I write a song because I’m feeling something very intensely and the only way to cope with it is by writing a song about it.

5. What do you think makes you stand out from other musicians?

I think I stand out because I am not afraid to talk about social, political, and personal issues that many musicians may shy away from talking or writing about.

6. What was the inspiration behind your song “American Dream”?

The song ‘American Dream’ was inspired by numerous things, including Donald Trump’s election, Standing Rock hardly being in mainstream media, my whole life’s journey, and my great-grandmother’s story. The first verse is very much about how mainstream media is brainwashing us and doesn’t tell us everything. Standing Rock was hardly covered in mainstream media. The lyric ‘hate can’t be the face of the American Dream’ is a direct jab at Donald Trump. I can’t tell you how many nights I stared at the television in tears listening to him say racist comments about mexicans or other marginalized racial groups. At 24 years old, it deeply affected me. I can’t imagine how an eight year old child would feel hearing the same things. The second verse is about how I grew up watching television shows of happy ‘all american’ families, that of course didn’t look like me or my family. All I ever wanted was that life. All I ever wanted was to live in a nice house like ‘american families’ should and be happy like they are on TV. But growing up, I realized that this ‘American Dream’ was something that many people don’t think people like me should have – and that this ‘American Dream’ is not associated with people of color in a mainstream way. ‘I hear you everyday, saying it’s going to be okay’ This line is about how so many people in my life have tried to convince me that racism doesn’t exist anymore – but I know firsthand that that’s not true. ‘I know, we’ve got a long way to go. But I’ve got to believe that change is a choice and it can start with me’ – This line references the attitude that so many people have that we can’t really make a difference as one person. But no matter how far we have to go, a few steps forward as one person is still doing more than standing still or taking a few steps back. The third verse is about my great-grandmother. She was taken away from her people as a child and put into boarding school. She was raised by a European woman in Arizona and separated from her parents and siblings. Her story haunts me, because so many people don’t realize the awful things that have happened in this country just within the past 100 years. The only way to move forward is to acknowledge that ‘change is a choice that can start with you.’

7. What has the fan reaction been like?

I have gotten really positive responses from my supporters! Of course, writing songs with a political nature always has backlash from people online. But my fans & followers were so enthusiastic about the video and the message. I am so grateful for all of the love “American Dream” has been receiving.

8. Do you have any other upcoming projects?

I have a lot of different projects in the works – including a studio version of my song “Red Moon, High Tide” that I wrote with Madison Malone. We wrote the song about the California fires. I am also working on writing new songs for my next album, and tour planning for 2018!

9. What are your goals for 2018?

My goals for 2018 are to write new songs, continue to use my music as a platform for change and connect with new people around the world!

Check out the music video below!

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