Ryan Aderrey Q/A and Performance Interview
Q. You have a bachelor's degree in Print Journalism from Boston University but you chose to get into the music industry instead and becoming a musician with all of its uncertainties, why go that route and forgo a potentially more secure, comfortable position as a writer?
Ryan: It was my head versus my heart in making that decision. I ultimately chose my heart. I chose what I love to do and what is my passion. I feel life is too short and I had to give it a shot. And if I didn't work out, I had my degree to fall back on, but my music is working and taking off. I'm really glad I made that choice.
Q. How long have you been involved with music?
Ryan: I was producing for 10 years and it wasn't until two years ago when I was in the presence of a vocal coach, Anita Wilson, and she said I can turn you into a singer. I was going to school at time and music wasn't at the forefront. I worked with her for two years every day for an hour a day until I could sing.
Q. How did you cross paths with this vocal coach?
Ryan: I was recording some songs at Studio Center Miami and she had an office there. Everybody that worked at the studio was like a second family to me. I ended up hanging out with her and singing as a joke. She said no, you can sing.
Q. At that point, did take singing more seriously after working with the vocal coach?
Ryan: I did. When she actually thought I could be something vocal wise.
Q. I read in your bio, you were a soccer player at one time and you were used to being in front of crowds. How do you think that prepared you for being an artist and performer being in front of an audience?
Ryan: I was playing professionally overseas in Amsterdam and I was only one of three Americans. In the sports world in Europe, especially in the soccer world, they don't really like Americans. It was tough. Even in practice, they would push me around and beat me up. The fans from the local town would be there. You're always being watched and under the microscope. When the game came around, there was 10-15,000 people in the crowd, so that got me really prepared. I feel now, the bigger the crowd, the better. I'm get more pumped with more people. I'm not nervous and I'm ready to go. So soccer did that for me.
Q. Where did soccer fit in the timeline for you between producing and going to school?
Ryan: I have played soccer since I was three. I played all my life through high school. I went to a semester at Boston University. I got a pro turn out offer while I was at Boston University. I took a leave of absence. I went the pro soccer route and played for three years and through different circumstances: really bad injuries and visa problems, I decided my leave of absence was coming up and I wanted to go back to school. Soccer was always what I wanted to do from the get go though music was a love and passion of mine. I graduated high school in 2003. I would have graduated college earlier but I ended up graduating in 2009 because I took that leave of absence.
Q. With your journalism degree in writing and ability to write poetry do you feel that makes you a natural for songwriting and why?
Ryan: I think to be a natural songwriter you have to be born with it. I think taking those courses, and getting minors in those areas, prepared me technically. It gave me certain techniques that if I have writer's block, I can push through it. It allowed to be influenced by some of the greatest writers ever. And I think, that's more so what I took from it. I don't the courses themselves turned me into a great songwriter. I think I already had it in me. Taking those courses enhanced it.
Q. What you feel you have to offer as a songwriter that's different than other artists out there and do you feel intimidated at all by the odds against it?
Ryan: If I start thinking about the hundreds of thousands of artists out there trying to do what I'm doing, I think they have already won. The only thing I can do is be better than I was the day before. And if I can say I have truly done that every day, then I'm on the right track. Going back and reflecting on those courses I minored in at college, they do separate me from the pack of singer/songwriters out there. I draw on Sylvia Path and I studied some of the greatest Irish poets that have ever lived. I can draw on that for inspiration. I think that gives you an edge. Our writing is so personal and very deep. Our songs start out as poems and prose. Then it's converted to song form. It has that one extra little layer. It's like an onion, if you peel that layer back, you see a little something extra you don't see in other songs.
Q. You mentioned other collaborators when writing songs. Who are they?
Ryan: I have assembled a team of songwriters. It's me and two other people. I write the majority of the songs but they help me tighten things up. Sometimes they write half the songs.
Q. What instruments do you play and what instrument do you compose songs on?
Ryan: I already had the basic knowledge of the keyboards. A friend of mine, Keshav Singh, taught me the basic keys and chords. From there, I was pretty much self taught. I can play the keyboards and piano though not well enough to perform live, but I am taking classes at the Berkeley School of Music, too, to make sure I can perform live and write songs. That's the next step.
Q. Why did you get a choreographer? How did that come about?
Ryan: The vocal coach and the choreographer, Athena Cameron, have a studio together. It's called A-Team Studios. I don't really dance onstage, so it's not really choreography per say, but she taught me visualization exercises to get myself in the right mindset. Athena taught me presence and confidence. How to move without moving too much. Teaching about me power and stillness. It was an invaluable experience.
Q. Who influenced you musically? I read in your bio, your parents played Bob Dylan at home when you were growing up. Did that affect you on a subconscious level later in your life
Ryan: I think he did but I grew up listening to Jackson Browne. Also Santana. The Beatles, obviously. They all influenced me and planted a seed in me but I didn't know it at the time.
Q. What about Blues Traveler? Were they an influence, too? I ask because when you performed tonight you sang in a sort of rapid-fire sing/rap style.
Ryan: I love Blues Traveler. The rapid-fire singing is a lot of Ed Sheeran. I really love him. Some of my more modern influences are Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco and John Legend. I think there are a lot of good artists and music is coming back to where it should be.
Q. Can you tell me about how you got signed? How has that defined and shaped you as an artist versus where you were before that?
Ryan: I got signed because I had an entertainment lawyer named Richard Clarvit and he has been in this industry for 30 years. Robert got me involved with an independent label, - INTIME Records. He got me involved with investors, a marketer and a promoter. Richard helped get a whole team together. All of a sudden, I had this team behind me. That's the difference. I met him through Studio Center Miami and he was part of that group. You can have a million great songs, but if no one is listening to them, it's not going to make any difference. I never had a marketer or promoter, but I always had quality material. It's really hard for an artist on their own. If you don't have any money, it's almost impossible. To chart on Billboard, and to get to Number 35, I believe the investors spent nearly 250 grand on radio air plays and the label spent four times that - that's the difference. I finally have people who really believed in me and supported me. That's the only reason things are starting to take off. Jennifer Lyneis is my tour manager and does promotions. I would be lost without her. You have to have a good team and money.
Q. How does it feel to be on the Billboard Charts?
Ryan: Even when it happened, it didn't feel real. It was surreal. We took a screen shot of the chart position and put it up on the computer and framed it on the wall. We're above people like Justin Timberlake and Jason Derülo. We're just thinking - is this real life? It doesn't seem like it's really happening. If you would have asked a year ago, I was in the verge of giving up. If you would have said you will be on Billboard charts, above all your favorite artists, I would have said you are crazy. I feel really good about it now, but I'm trying to stay humble. I know it's important not to get too high or too low. Once you get too high in this industry, it knocks you right down. It's great, we love it, and now, we're moving on to the next accomplishment.
Singer/songwriter Ryan Aderréy’s recent performance at Genghis Cohen offered up original memorable pop songs that are radio-friendly but without compromising their artistic integrity to reach wider audiences. The seven songs were comprised of relationship-oriented material on one level or another from Aderréy’s CD, “What If” - “I Set You Free" and “What Ifs and Broken Promises” among them. “Without Hope” is about a friend who grew in an abusive household. “A Miracle, My Love” is the single on radio, and as of this writing, is #35 on the Top 40 pop Billboard Indicator chart. “Sing Me The Blues,” Even Angels Cry” and “Jessie” were also featured and will be included on Aderréy's next CD. Some lyrics were more direct than others leaving the meanings and interpretations subject to the individual listener’s point of view. Being more abstract, the songwriting displayed Aderréy’s talent for poetic wordplay. This was a refreshing change from the stock sentiments that are passed off as craft and serve to placate the masses that often find a home on the radio. Ryan Aderréy has an impressive soaring vocal range with a clear and clean sound. He also switched it up with a rapid-fire sing/rap flavor reminiscent of Ed Sheeran and Blues Traveler's John Popper. Guitarist Alexander Knutsen and keyboardist Elliot Schwartzman provided understated accompaniment coloring the arrangements and highlighting the beautiful melodies. On occasion, Knutsen took an aggressive stance on guitar coaxing out forceful leads. More of a showcase than an actual set, the show sometimes felt static. Aderréy didn’t interact with the small audience beyond song introductions. Aderréy sat stationary on his stool and never got up. There was no visible interplay between him and band. The vibe wasn’t apparent, either. Based on this show, one could say Aderréy let his music do the talking with little fanfare, but showing more of personality onstage would have gone along way. If Aderréy gave a compelling live performance that matched his gifts as a singer/songwriter, the show would have been a success on all levels.