RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW BIRMINGHAM ARTIST PAUL RYAN
Hi Paul thanks for joining us today. What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
In many ways, music was always destined to feature heavily in my life. In my life, the ups and downs, music has always been the solid foundation for me, not just writing and creating music or words, but always listening to, and explore new artists and absorb sounds. Music really is the most powerful medium of communication, I feel. And I wanted to be a creator of a new type of history.
Introduce us to you and your musical history. Who is Paul Ryan?
Well, I think of myself as a painter really. I use words to tell stories or describe a problem or position, then explore those areas, like any artist. I feel like creating something from nothing is always a fascinating process.
Using colour or a gesture and drawing in on those feelings is extremely important to one’s own art. I grew up listening to Dylan, Bowie and The Beatles, and I wanted to really play live music when I was in my teens. When writing in bands I played in growing up, I knew I could put words to music very well, but this has become much more straightforward since going solo and enjoying my own space.
What was life like for you before music?
Before recording and performing, I lived a regular life being married with 2 children, and since following the divorce, all of my life was turned upside down. I’m really on this strange journey now where I’ve met thousands of new people in my life, and this path has paved the way for new incredible things to happen in my life.
From where I was 2 years ago to today, it is difficult to explain, or find words, but it has been an amazing journey that I’m still riding high on.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
It is difficult to answer because I listen to so much music, but the first song that made me believe I could go it alone, was ‘My Sweet Lord’ by George Harrison. A beautiful song.
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
I currently sit on the cusp of being well known, yet not known enough to have the following that the music merits. So, in this way, I’ve continued to perform live in London to get my name out there along with my first singles.
What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
That is all about hard work and dedication, talent and songs aren’t enough to just be willingly accepted. I am old school in the sense that art takes precedence over everything and anything else, however, it is becoming apparent that this is naive and that selling yourself and promoting other artists is equally important.
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career, what would it be?
I think to have a stronger understanding of my fan base. This essentially is important because I want fans of my music to understand that all my songs are so different and tell different stories, and what I enjoy is hearing feedback on what people think, the change in styles, the change of words, I think that is very important to me.
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture?
I don’t really allow myself to worry about external influences or negativity. The way I think of art or performance is that it is always subjective and based on personal interpretation, so these things are out of one’s control.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not, why not?
I do believe in some things, such as John Lennon being murdered in New York for political reasons. I do believe the U.S. administration had a hand in that, as his identity as an artist was somewhat threatening to the government of that period. Especially under the Nixon administration.
What was the worst experience on stage?
My microphone had really awful feedback one time, and I powered on through the performance, which was awful, I should have got it sorted before the gig but in the end, it was actually a good experience because I haven’t allowed it to happen since.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
Well, although it isn’t shown on stage, I do get anxious when performing for big audiences. You’d think after a period this passes, but it is still a strange but very interesting and absorbing experience.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I definitely feel I have a variety and interesting series of styles, which often makes people stop conversation and listen to the music. Usually, you can hear a pin drop when I play ‘The Divine Sky’ or ‘Violet Rays’. Another example of this is ‘Finger on Destruction’, fans appreciate the words so well, and this is always a standout point when compared with other artists or singers.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it? What was the recording process like?
So ‘Lost at War’ can be interpreted in many ways, however, I wrote this while what was happening in Ukraine, and I can see how these news stories had an influence on the lyrical nature of what followed.
During the recording, I felt it was dark and had a real atmosphere to it. I was already listening to Radiohead and the Manic Street Preachers around this time, which was probably central to how this single came about. It’s slow and moody and captures the idea of what is being said in the song. I’m absolutely delighted with how the final version came out.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
I think to take risks and make your music sound unique, whilst also not doing anything too drastic that compromises the sound. Especially that can turn listeners off, it still needs an organic sound and feeling. Fundamentally, because I’m a songwriter type, lyrics will always take centre stage, and I feel the words with passion as well, and maintaining this while writing is important for any process.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Not at all. Absolutely turned out exactly how I imagined.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
You’ll be hearing more from me in the near future again, so look forward to the next songs on my debut album!