Name: Ryan Wright
Occupations: Singer, songwriter
Current Release: Ryan Wright's latest single “A Dream I’ll Forget” is out now. It follows in the footsteps of a string of songs highlighting her recognisable electronic dream pop style. As she reveals in this interview, her new EP, also titled A Dream I’ll Forget, is scheduled for March 4th.
Recommendations: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; "The Dream Synopsis" (EP version) by Last Shadow Puppets
If you enjoyed this interview with Ryan Wright, visit her on Instagram, and Facebook for more information and recent updates.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I grew up in my dad’s studio so I would say I’ve always been immersed in a musical environment.
My passion for writing and producing came very naturally to me at the early age of three when I heard “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” by The Killers for the first time in the back of my aunt’s car. From then on I’ve always written little songs that my dad would record and send to my family members for fun. But I started becoming seriously invested in writing my junior year of high school when I had been going through so much teenage angst and drama. I took to my voice memos and notes app and over the course of several varsity volleyball game bus rides, I wrote an album on my phone.
My music was highly influenced by the songs I grew up listening to. The influences range from The Everly Brothers to The 1975 and definitely my dad who taught me everything he knows about songwriting and producing. He’s my partner in everything I make and also my best friend.
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
I’ve always had a visceral reaction to music. I feel it very deeply and on a very intense level within me. I love how music can hold so many emotions and make me feel so many things. It has the power to transport me to another time in my life or make me feel connected and understood.
I’m not very good at the technicalities of production. I just use how music makes me feel and what I picture in my head as a means to translate how I want my music to sound. Sometimes that can be difficult, but I love challenging myself to get to where I want music to be. Sometimes I even land upon something cooler.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
Like I had mentioned before, I didn’t really start taking music seriously until my junior year of high school. Where I grew up, there wasn’t an artsy crowd, so I kind of felt embarrassed of what I did on the side. I kept it to myself and struggled with allowing my parents to post things in fear of people I knew from school seeing it.
I played volleyball for seven years, both travel and school and was very invested in it. At one point I was getting offers and was planning on playing in college and pushed music off to the side even though I knew it made me happy. I was so embarrassed when my team had found my single “Screw U” and looking back now, I don’t really know why.
When quarantine happened, I didn’t have anything to do or anyone to worry about. Volleyball was kind of off the table at that point, so I took the time to go from my mom’s house to my dad’s and produce an album’s worth of songs, several of which are on the EP that’s dropping on March 4th. I’m so glad I did that because it connected me with so many amazing people and brought me these incredible opportunities like signing my first record deal and being able to actually feel confident and proud of my music.
In regards to breakthroughs, I think my style and sound is constantly evolving, this year more than ever. The stuff we’re making now has hit a part of my sound that we really love and can’t wait to get out.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
I’m definitely still trying to figure myself out. I’m only 19, so I’ve still got a lot to learn and experience.
I would definitely say that the unknowns of my identity have heavily influenced my sound as a musician. I am a very open minded person and don’t like to narrow myself down to just one thing. I kind of love being all over the place and figuring things out as I go. It makes the creative process more fun that way.
I grew up in a blended family and was fed a wide variety of different types of music. I think that’s what has made me so open to pulling inspiration and influence from all over the musical spectrum.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
I would say it’s being able to make music that I like and can be proud of for years to come. I wear my influences on my sleeve and find it very important to conglomerate all of the styles, genres, and performers that raised me and be able to make something fresh out of it that ultimately represents who I am within my music.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
I love combining originality with timelessness. Originality breathes life into the timeless things that everyone loves.
I use classic fifties melodies and chord progressions over borderline unsettling synths. In a way, it gives the timeless elements more power and pays homage to the past influences by elevating them into something that gives a sense of both newness and familiarity when listened to.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
Probably social media and having a good head on your shoulders. Socials have been a key element in getting my music and artistry out there. I used to be really bad at it, but over time, I’ve gotten used to constantly posting and engaging with my followers and it’s proven itself to be extremely helpful in boosting my career.
And then staying grounded is also key to a successful career in the music industry. Knowing who you are and sticking with what you feel is right is highly important.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
I usually get up around ten in the morning (eleven in the morning if I’m being completely honest) and I get ready for the day.
I’m off to the studio around lunch time after I’ve had like six cups of coffee that I most certainly do not need and I’m there for a few hours working on music or co-writing. I sometimes do vocal training because I have a vocal condition and vocal health is highly important to me.
And then I end my day with dinner and hanging out with friends and family or staying up and watching a movie or show or filming tiktoks for my music page.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
My new EP A Dream I’ll Forget that drops everywhere on March 4th, was a long and ever changing process. I wrote it over the course of two years and because of that, my team and I had to move with the times quite a bit while also still developing my own personal style.
I started writing the songs until the lyrics were about 70% of the way finished while shampooing my hair or even sometimes on the school bus and then I took them to the studio to finish writing them, work out the chords, and figure out the general vibes for production. I wanted each song to conceptually flow together, but still be able to stand alone as their own piece of unique art and sound. Some of the lyrics make ties to other lyrics and thematically correspond with one another.
After we produced the songs, we then sent them to be mastered where they then really started to come to life and tell the story that I envisioned in my head.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I used to only write alone and with my production team because the pandemic made cowriting extremely difficult when I started my career in music. But recently, I have been taking more trips to LA and Nashville and am even planning on a trip to Germany to do some writing this year.
I really love being in a room with someone, especially when the vibe just clicks and you can push each other to take ideas into different directions that you know you both will like. I do think that there are some ideas that I have that are sacred to me and I like to keep to myself and hash out on my own. But in other cases, sometimes co-writing can help expand your musical intellect and you can really create something super cool or even find a new sound or style that you like.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
It was during the pandemic that I really started to hone in on my music and for myself and many others, it was a very isolating time. My high school experience was cut right in the middle of my junior year and being stuck at home and away from a social environment made it very hard to grow up like any other normal teenager would have prior to the pandemic.
Music was an outlet that allowed me to connect with others through social media. I think in general music is a universal language that creates an escape for listeners and also connects listeners to the musicians.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
I always turn to music as both an outlet and source of comfort during tough times. I find healing in it. A lot of my own music is personal and you can tell how I was feeling at the time I wrote it when you listen to it.
I use writing as a means to get my deepest thoughts and feelings out. Listening also helps me escape when things get too rough.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
My stepmom works at a hospital and they offer music therapy there. There is a lot of scientific evidence about the power that music has on the human body and the impact it can have on healing both mentally and physically.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I think that songwriting can have this reputation that it’s divine or inspired, but it can actually be more mundane than you think. Sometimes you have to find inspiration when you’re not inspired and it can be hard work.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
I think the only explanation to that is that it comes from the heart. Music derives from personal experience and human thoughts and feelings and it resonates universally because of this.