The Rocks Off 200: Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? After playing an active role in Houston's early-90s punk scene, Brandon Ray turned his creative persona from music-maker to animator. His signature style revolves around the use of pieces of paper put into motion -- almost like a pop-up book come to life -- and his projects in the past year alone have ranged from kids' programming for Amazon Studios to music videos for local bands and beyond, including a project in which megastar Johnny Depp played guitar.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Ray
That one, a collaborative effort with co-director Pat Kondelis, was a project for Texas Music Hall of Fame alum Bill Carter. The song, "Anything Made of Paper," is about the West Memphis Three, a group of Arkansas teens who were exonerated in 2011 after a long battle against their 1994 conviction for murder, as a gift for one of the now-freed men.
"Bill's beautiful song was inspired when Damien's wife Lorri brought Bill and his wife Ruth three paper roses as a gift from Damien, while he was on death row," explains Ray. "When Bill asked what he could give Damien in return, Lorri's response was, 'anything made of paper' -- that's all Damien was allowed to have while on death row. So Bill and Ruth set out to write a song for Damien about hope and love."
Ray adds that the video received Depp's (along with the other band members) seal of approval and has also been honored as an Official Selection of the 2014 Irvine International Film Festival -- which he humbly describes "pretty cool."
Home Base: Today, Ray is a self-described family man, who spends all of his free time with wife Lisa and colorfully named kiddos Bleu and Violet.
"You'll find me posted up at the H-town zoo on the regular, chillin' with my little man Bleu," Ray says with a smile. "Years ago, I spent quite a bit of time at Fitzgerald's and Zelda's waaaay back in the day."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? Ray points out Houston's cultural diversity as its main character-lending quality.
"Sure, they're doing their best to 'Keep Austin Weird,' but here in H-town, we've got a kaleidoscope of different cultures," he says. "As our art scene keeps expanding, I think we're going to be recognized for this in a big way."
Story continues on the next page.