You may remember PEV alum Ryan Aderréy from a past interview we did with the artist back in May 2014 – back then the Boston native was enjoying the success of his single, “A Miracle, My Love” on the top 40 pop charts. Things have been accelerating quite nicely since then for Mr. Aderréy, and today he’s Sony BMG’s newest artist, giving him a platform like never before to refine his craft on his way to his ambitious end goal: to be considered one of the best songwriters of his generation.
“A Miracle, My Love” came off of Ryan’s debut release What If, a collection that he says includes “something for everyone with a variety of topics such as love, never giving up hope, letting go of a loved one who has passed away, unity, heartbreak and seduction.” For this most recent set of XXQs, we spoke with Aderréy about his latest work, an EP titled I Struggle and I Emerge (Luctor et Emergo). Its a different direction for Ryan this time around; he pointed out “It’s a little darker than our first EP and shows a different side to us. It also demonstrates a tremendous amount of growth in regards to the vocal range, the lyrics and the productions.”
And we’re obviously not the only ones to notice, as Aderréy steps up to bigger and better things and his sound evolves – click to http://www.ryanaderrey.com
XXQs: Ryan Aderréy
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Ryan Aderréy (RA): We have a very distinctive sound. A lot of our lyrics begin as poetry or sometimes read similar to prose and are then formatted into a song. We combine that with radio-ready productions and commercial melodies to form something that, to be honest, hasn’t been done before. Our goal is first and foremost to be considered the best songwriters of our generation and I think that’s what sets us apart. Our ability to cross over between genres is another unique quality of ours. Originally, we set out to conquer the Hot A/C and Singer-Songwriter markets but our radio reports kept telling us that the top-40 pop stations liked our debut single, “A Miracle, My Love” even more than our intended audience. In only a few weeks, the single is spinning in the rotations of 15 top-40 stations around the United States and we’ve taken a lot of pride in being able to breakthrough into the pop market which is a not an easy thing to do.
PEV: What kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
RA: At a young age, I was exposed to many of the greats such as Bob Dylan, Jackson Brown and the Beatles among others. As I grew older, my interests became more eclectic and I developed an appreciation for all genres. I especially loved Hip-Hop, R&B, Rock and EDM. My favorite songs were “Escape” by DJ Kaycee and “Try Again” by Aaliyah. I had never heard such beautiful synths and melodies in a production before. Those songs made me want to get into music. As for my first concert, that would be an Alanis Morissette show in Tampa Bay, Florida.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
RA: When I first started I was strictly involved in the production aspect of the process. I would produce an instrumental, post it online (at that time I used MySpace) and hope someone liked it enough to want to add their vocals to it. It was a slow process but to be honest, it didn’t’ bother me all that much because I was still attending school (Boston University) at the time and my focus wasn’t solely on music. It wasn’t until after I graduated in 2009 when I gave music all my energy. It was around that time when I also began trying add my own vocals to the songs I produced. This is when the real frustration started to set in. The attention was minimal and I had no idea how to promote and market for myself. I went through countless sleazy booking agents and so-called managers who were just looking to make a quick dollar any way they could. I was getting nowhere, bouncing around from one awful show to the next. There was one venue where I literally performed for an empty room. It got to the point where I looked in the mirror one day and asked myself if my love for music outweighed all the negativity. Fortunately, the answer was yes. My first show was at Webster Hall in New York City. I was the opener for Wiz Khalifa before he became the household name that everyone knows today. It was an interesting show. There were three acts; myself, a great hip-hop trio by the name of Green Street who I’ve been good friends with for years, and Wiz. All the acts were very different. I was singing, Green Street has a very jazzy, NY-type of sound and Wiz was slowly becoming the modern-day Snoop Dogg (or is it Snoop Lion now?) so there was something for everyone. I’d say that about 500 people came to the show. It was a nice venue. All in all, it was a positive experience. Ironically, my first show was much better than many of the others that came after.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Ryan Aderréy show?
RA: They can expect a raw, gritty and emotional interpretation of the songs. There’s no choreography or background dancers, just me and my musicians pouring our hearts and souls out to the crowd. They can expect energy. They can expect to experience the full range of the emotional spectrum and they can expect to leave wanting more.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
RA: How lucky I am to be able to do this for a living and how grateful I am that someone would take time out of their schedule and go out of their way to come see me perform. I’ll never take that for granted.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
RA: The best part is simply the fact that with every show you get the opportunity to gain a new fan and prove that there’s more to you than what goes on in the studio. When you’re recording a song, you have the opportunity to go back and perfect something you don’t like but in my opinion, the real artistry is taking that recording and interpreting it live on stage. I think the fans appreciate that there’s a difference between a recording and a live performance. In my opinion, a recording should be perfect with attention to every detail. When you’re listening to a track at home or in the car or wherever you may be, you shouldn’t have to deal with the audible imperfections that sometimes arise from a live show. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be perfect when you’re on stage; it’s more important for it to be honest and to awaken the raw emotion you had when writing the track. Having the opportunity to do that is the best part of performing live.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
RA: The inspiration for our music is simple. We write about our experiences or the experiences of others that we have witnessed firsthand. We don’t write about hypothetical situations. I’m a firm believer that songwriting can’t be faked. You have to go through it for the writing to be genuine. If you try to fake it, eventually the audience will catch on. We write about our lives and the lives of those around us in the hopes that the listener can relate to the words and in turn find comfort in our songs.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
RA: Absolutely. All the time. I live by the saying, “it’s about the journey, not the destination” and I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a mistake, only lessons learned. There was a time when I tried to block out the past because when I started my career I was truly struggling. But one day I realized that everything I’ve been through, down to this very second, has made me who I am today…and I wouldn’t change a thing because I’m happy with who I am. So, yes, I think back to when I first began my career quite often.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
RA: I played soccer starting from the age of 3 and when I graduated high school I was good enough to play overseas in Holland for over three years.
PEV: What do you do when you hit a brick wall in your writing? What are some methods to get over that?
RA: Song writing comes and goes in cycles. There are times when the words flow effortlessly and I’ll write seven songs in a week without a problem. But then I can go for months without being able to write a single word. When that happens to me I feel it’s best to take a step back and not force it. I’m not the type of person who can sit down and force myself to write if I’m not in the proper zone. That’s like forcing yourself to go to bed because you have to wake up early. It never works. However, if there’s a deadline and I absolutely must have the song finished by a certain date, a good technique is to simply write what you’re feeling, almost in the form of a diary. Put your pencil to the paper (or finger to the keyboard) and don’t stop even if the sentence is complete gibberish. It doesn’t have to rhyme or be a coherent thought. Doing this is like jump-starting your creative juices and I can honestly say it works. Sometimes when you’re trying to find a way over the mountain, the best thing to do is go through it. This technique allows me to do so.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed over the years since you started out?
RA: Since I personally started my musical journey, I don’t think the industry has gone through any significant changes. What the industry is today is basically what it was when I first began. There have been some subtle changes such as the improvement of certain technologies but the overall attitude of the industry has remained the same in my case. However, I’m around a lot of great producers and artists who have been a major part of the scene for over 30 years and for them, the culture and modus operandi of the industry has done a complete 180. They tell me stories about how major labels used to have talent scouts that went out to small shows to discover the diamonds in the rough. These talent scouts are almost non-existent nowadays. Instead labels have employees who sit in front of the computer and monitor numbers on all the major social media websites. They also tell me that artists used to record songs specifically for albums with the hope that one or two would catch fire instead of today where it’s a singles-driven market. There are many other examples of how different the industry has become. I just feel fortunate I haven’t had to adapt to radical changes as these guys have had to do.
PEV: What can fans expect from your first release, What If, not to mention your latest effort, I Struggle and I Emerge (Luctor et Emergo)? What was the writing process like for these albums? What is the story behind the name of each album?
RA: There’s a lot to like about our debut EP, entitled What If. Fans can expect deep, meaningful and relatable lyrics. They can also expect top-notch production from Grammy-winning producer Zach Ziskin. The melodies are beautiful and immediately get stuck in your head even if you’ve only heard the song once. There’s something for everyone on this album with a variety of topics such as love, never giving up hope, letting go of a loved one who has passed away, unity, heartbreak and seduction. We called the EP What If because we all live with regrets. We all have those moments we’d like to be able to replay or the “one” who got away. We are only human. What…if. Two words that, if used separately, are completely harmless but when joined together, form something very powerful. It’s that power that we wanted representing our EP.
We just released our second EP called I Struggle and I Emerge (Luctor et Emergo). It’s a little darker than our first EP and shows a different side to us. It also demonstrates a tremendous amount of growth in regards to the vocal range, the lyrics and the productions. We released the EP on the same night as our major label showcase at The Cutting Room in NYC. Six major labels sent representatives to the show and we rocked the stage that night! In fact, we performed so well, they requested meetings the next day. It’s a really exciting time right now.
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
RA: When it’s all said and done I’d like to say I traveled the world. I love to visit new places but if I had to narrow it down to one destination, I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, particularly Tokyo. I think it would be a thrill to go out there to perform and take in the culture. And from what I’ve seen in movies and pictures, the scenery is spectacular.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
RA: My friends and family have been extremely supportive. Even during the tough times when I questioned if I should keep going, they never wavered. I’d never be where I am today without them and I’ve never lost sight of that. This is the reason why when I’m asked about the music I always say “we” instead of “I” or “us” instead of “me”. They’ve always believed in me and my abilities but after things started taking off I think there was a period of shock and awe mixed with a dash of relief simply because they all knew how hard it is to break through in this industry. Now that it’s set in, I can really feel their energy. They’re pumped and I feed off that.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
RA: I’m a gamer…I LOVE VIDEO GAMES, especially vintage ones. I had a few days off recently so I decided to go on YouTube and learn how to hack my Nintendo Wii so that I could use it to play the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and Atari consoles. For those two days, I was the happiest guy on earth.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
RA: If I were to have my choice of which present artist/group I would most want to collaborate with, it would be a tie between Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco with Ed Sheeran being a close second. Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco both have such infectious energy in their songs and on stage. I also admire their songwriting. Their words have such underlying pain and sarcasm/cynicism and their melodies are brilliant. If I were to pick an artist from the past (I don’t know if this counts because technically he’s still around), I’d choose Carlos Santana. I grew up on his music and in my opinion he’s the greatest guitar player of all time.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
RA: There are two that come to mind. The first is a trio out of Brooklyn called Green Street (http://thewilltowin.net/). To be honest, I don’t like a lot of Hip-Hop these days but their material brings me back to the 90s when the genre was at its peak. They’ve just completed their new album The Will to Win and they’ve got an amazing story to tell with two of the three members facing life-threatening illnesses, overcoming them and returning stronger than ever. Another artist is Adam Jensen (http://adamjensenmusic.com/), a singer-songwriter based out of Boston. I was just turned on to his music a few days ago and I was really impressed, especially with his new single “Numb”. He’s opened for Bon Jovi and is playing a show with 3 Doors Down in the near future.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
RA: If playing music wasn’t my life’s goal, I would either concentrate solely on writing songs for others or I would aspire to be another kind of writer, whether that be a journalist or a poet or a novelist etc. I studied creative writing, poetry and print journalism at Boston University and for as long as I could remember, I’ve always loved to write.
PEV: So, what’s next for Ryan Aderréy?
RA: Going forward, we’re going to try to perform as much as humanly possible to keep this momentum rolling. We’re sorting through touring opportunities, offers to play festivals and looking at some local shows here in Boston and the rest of the Northeast so we can continue to build our brand.
For more information, click to http://www.ryanaderrey.com/.