After the success of her debut single ‘Belle,‘ County Kildare born Ryan busied herself preparing and releasing her now award-winning EP ‘Glitter Skies.‘ This year Ryan’s crowd-funded debut album is due for release in May. I caught up with her just before the release of the single ‘Rise Up,’ featuring Steo Wall.
1. Who or what was your earliest musical inspiration, that piqued your interest?
A lot of things inspired me growing up. I was a big thinker, I always have been, my Da said to me one day to write it all down. I have always loved to sing and I remember one day realizing I could combine singing and writing together to create a song, and this blew my mind. I started to do this from a very early age and have been doing this ever since. It’s my expression. One of the other main inspirations was being in such a musical town. I grew up in Newbridge, Co. Kildare in my early years and within the town there were so many musical opportunities as a child. This was hugely inspiring as I was absorbed in so many different styles of music. I grew up listening to his Christy Moore and Luka Bloom CD’s at home in Newbridge. I used to sing along to their songs and work out the chords on the guitar, this inspired me with writing my own songs. I have always been so passionate about singing and I sang anywhere I could when I was young, in musical theatre shows, trad groups, and choirs.
2. What was the driving force behind this album?
Recording an album has always been a dream, and I am so over the moon to be doing this. It genuinely feels like a dream come true. Writing songs for me has always been about expression, but songwriting and singing is also about connection. Music is all about connecting and music has always made me feel as if I wasn’t alone. In writing songs, my goal is to be that vessel for people who listen to my songs. I write about the deepest darkest parts of myself and the most euphoric and vibrant parts of myself. Everyone has darkness and light and that’s the beauty of music, if it’s relatable, that’s what it’s all about. I love so many different kinds of music. My influences derive from different styles, folk, blues, soul, and country. This album is a combination of all of these styles. I’ve had the pleasure of working with outstanding musicians. It was brilliant to be a studio where myself and the band could be wonderfully creative through the whole process.
3. What has the music taught you during the creative process of your upcoming album?
The music has taught me that every song has a voice. I would even go as far to say, each lyric has its own sound. It’s vital for me to have the lyric of each song conveyed musical in a way that highlights the lyric and message of the song, this is the core of every song. Each sound created, each beat, each melody, etc. are all created to help the lyric come to life.
4. Were you influenced by anything or anyone during the writing process?
Throughout the writing process I was listening to a lot of Rhiannon Giddens, Robert Plant, Bonnie Raitt, Erykah Badu, Damien Dempsey and Gillian Welch. Each of these artists stylistically add something so unique and authentic. Rhiannon Giddens isn’t afraid to write about real and raw issues of history and of today’s world. Robert Plant’s arrangements of songs are so tribal and hypnotic. Bonnie Raitt is immersed in blues and passion. Erykah Badu’s tone is by far my favourite style of singing to listen to, so smooth and soulful. Damien Dempsey, much like Rhiannon is unafraid to write about the subjects that everyone else is afraid to say, his music is only thing that truly helps me through my dark days. Gillian Welch has sheer and utter craft in everything she does from writing, guitar playing to sing and accompanied by David Rawlings who responds to each lyric that she sings, how beautiful. So each of these artists really influenced the sound that I wanted to create for this album and the way I wrote. I chose to let me my walls down and write about what it feels like to live in the Ireland of today at 23.
5. What are your main desires to write music?
My main desire to write music is just purely because I love it, with every fiber of my being. It’s my calling and my purpose. It is release, expression, creativity and it takes me to another realm which allows me to escape while also delving into each part of myself, my reality and my experiences. I also just adore melody and exploring new melodies through singing. It’s the best feeling in the world.
6. How would you describe the music scene in your city & how important was it in terms of writing your album?
The music scene in Cork City is pretty amazing. Every night of the week there is music on, in a variety of different styles – blues, folk, jazz soul, country, funk. Ever since I moved to Cork I’ve been trying to take it all in. It’s very inspiring being surrounded by musicians who share the same passion. It’s a very supportive city and everyone just loves what they do and support each other. My second home is Ennistymon, Co. Clare, and Clare has blown my mind. The music scene in Clare is extremely spiritual. Everyone is so open to every style of music and the sessions are free for anyone to play along with the other musicians performing. From spending time in Clare I’ve had the opportunity to perform my songs with trad musicians in the area which gave my songs a whole new lease of life. Between Cork and Clare, I’m very lucky to experience such a welcoming and influential music scenes.
7. Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?
Lately it’s, ‘Soft Rain’, by Damien Dempsey. This song is spoken word and music. It’s gentle and vulnerable and it transports me to a peaceful place.
8. What’s the best compliment you’ve received regarding your music?
A very close friend said to me once, it seems like I’ve been here before and that my lyrics are on the same level as Joni Mitchell. I nearly fell off my chair to receive such a compliment, I couldn’t believe it.
9. Will we get any music videos for this upcoming release?
Yes! Myself and Steo Wall are releasing ‘Rise Up’, the first track from my Debut Album, and we are so excited to share the song and video with the world.
10. What song of yours is your favourite and why?
At the moment my favourite is probably, ‘Breathe’. It’s really fun to sing with the band and solo, and it also holds a special place in my heart.
11. Who would your dream collaboration be with living or dead?
My dream collaboration would be to sing with Joni Mitchell.
12. Would you like to say to anything to your fans?
Thank you, with all of my heart and soul for your support, kindness and belief in me. It fills my heart with so much love that people listen to my music and support me and my songs. It really means the world to me. I am so eternally grateful that you listen to me songs and my stories and I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon. Loads of love to yee Xxxx
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Ryan’s single with Steo Wall ‘Rise Up,’ is available now.
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