We had the pleasure of speaking with Ray Suen, a talented producer and musician who has worked with the likes of Lorde, Childish Gambino, The Killers, and many more. Join us as we take a peek inside his world and process.
RUKSKE: What’s a scent you associate with your best memories on tour?
Ray: I would say there are two pretty distinct scents from tour that trigger positive memories for me. The first one is probably the smell of smoke blown on stage to create that ambient haze effect right before you go on. Every time I catch that scent it sort of just mentally prepares me to get out there and perform, kind of like a signal that I’m about to go out on stage and do what I love to do.
Another really vivid scent in my mind from touring is all of the different subway trains and stations I’ve visited during my time on the road. I’m based in LA, and we don’t really have a very reliable public transit system here. But when I’m on tour and I have time off in different cities, I love taking the subway to explore. Japan, London, Chicago, New York—each one has a different scent but they all share this feeling of newness and exploration that takes me back to my time on the road. My favorite is the tube in London. It’s so well-run, I’ve spent so much time there, and it feels like my home away from home.
RUKSKE: Lighter or matches? Why?
Ray: I do have a special lighter that I carry with me wherever I go, but when it comes to candles, it’s matches all the way. It feels wrong to light a candle with anything other than matches!
RUKSKE: What are some fragrances that help you get into a creative flow? Do you ever burn scents while writing music?
Ray: You know, actually, I really love burning scents when I’m coming down from a creative stretch. When I’m writing music or producing, I try to keep things really simple and I find that it’s a bit interfering when there’s too much stimuli. After I’ve finished a session, though, bringing scents into my space—whether that’s lighting a candle or cooking dinner—is really cathartic and helps me wind down.
RUKSKE: If there were a Ray x RUKSKE collaboration scent, what would that smell like?
Ray: I suppose it would be a sort of warming, bourbon-y tobacco scent. It’s a bit on the nose because that’s typically how I like to come down after a day of work, but those two notes would definitely lay the foundation for a collaborative scent.
RUKSKE: Tell us about your favorite at-home ritual.
Ray: The pandemic really helped me get in touch with the concept of ritual because I never really had any routines before then. Generally speaking, I try to prioritize getting outside every day. LA offers such varied outdoor experiences that are easily accessible, so I try to take advantage of that as much as I can. I’m also a big runner, and finding new trails to explore has become a grounding ritual I look to daily.
My favorite ritual, though, is cooking. When I’m on the road and that sense of daily structure isn’t there, it’s hard to feel like you get to take care of your body in the way you want to. When I’m home I love cooking and just having fun with it. It’s a really peaceful, restorative practice for me.