Rai grew up in Sydney, Australia. His mother was a classical piano teacher, and his father was a language teacher who played bass and guitar in local rock bands. Influenced by his parents, Rai developed an appreciation for a wide variety of music, including classical, rock, pop and jazz.
After high school, Rai was awarded a scholarship to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he studied jazz piano. But before he could finish the program, Rai came to the attention of Columbia Records in the US, and signed his first record deal.
Before his first album was released, however, Columbia Records experienced a management shake-up, and Rai was released from his contract. He returned to Australia and started Thirsty Merc, a rock band which over the next ten years would release three successful albums (one platinum, one double-platinum in Australia).
After the third album with his band, Rai decided to take a break to focus on writing music that incorporated jazz and his other early influences. In 2012, Rai came to Los Angeles and started writing and performing extensively, landing opening slots on tours with Bernhoft and Oh Land. His music soon attracted the attention of the LA music community including tastemakers like Chris Douridas of KCRW.
Rai released three EPs under the moniker “Sun Rai,” as well as album of live-in-the-studio recordings. He’s got a new album of studio recordings which he’s preparing to release in later in 2015. Later this year, Rai will be return to Sydney for the release of a new Thirsty Merc album.