Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to become a soloist?
I’ve always wanted a career in music and after performing for other bands and songwriters and working in recording for a few years, the songs I had just kind of poured out of me. Writing music and performing it seems as natural as anything to me and I just can’t really imagine doing anything else.
Introduce us you and your musical history?
While performing under my own name I’ve had several different bands back me up. Always made up of friends, in Nashville I perform with a killer backing crew called “Ryan Yingst and the Lucky Strikes” and the Lucky Strikes are Jason Bobo on bass, Sean Weidner on drums/backing vocals and Dan Davis on guitar. I actually went to high school with Sean and Dan, way back in Hershey PA, though I didn’t really meet either of them until coming to Nashville, and Jason played guitar for a short-lived band I was a part of when I first moved to town by the name of ‘A Minute Late’. All of these guys play in multiple projects around town and are rockstars in their own veins.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m sick of it, but I’ve been asked what my “story” is on a couple occasions and that always struck me as an odd way of saying “talk about whatever you want because we don’t know what to ask”. Don’t get me wrong, I love to share stories or experiences, but I guess it’s tough for me to see my life as one story rather than a collection of them.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
I’ve always been really fascinated by conspiracy theories. The idea that a lack of evidence can itself be evidence is a cool thought experiment. The ones I like most are usually about space. I don’t really give any too much control over what I do day to day, but I’m a strong believer in aliens and the effects of cosmic events on our little ball of rock we call Earth.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Probably a lot more liquor than I needed, and a few more video games than I should have. I also bought an electric bike, but I don’t regret that one bit! It’s been one of my best purchases for getting around the city and was a great way to get some fresh air and escape some of the cabin fever during the pandemic.
What useless party trick do you have?
Well, I’ve learned that I can still roll a pretty perfect joint while blindfolded.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
This is hard to answer because playing with my current band is so much fun and every show we play seems more fun than the last lately, but Im gonna think back a little. My favorite venue was playing Chicago’s House of Blues with a country act by the name of Justin Fabus. I’m a huge Jeff Buckley fan and he has a famous concert recorded there, I actually got to stand and play in the same spot he did, so that was surreal. But the most fun I’ve ever had on stage playing solo was probably Rockwood in NYC. I made regular trips there from Pittsburgh before the pandemic. The place would start with just a couple people inside and folks walking by would hear something and put their ear to the glass, if they liked what they heard they seemed to drop what they were doing and come in. I had so much fun seeing what would pull people and what kind of people I could pull. It was such an authentic experience to organically fill up a room that I hadn’t really advertised for or promoted.
What was the worst experience on stage?
When I was in high school I once had a performance with the choir that I was gonna play guitar for, I got the program wrong and accidentally went out on stage a song early. But didn’t realize until I was set up with my amp and plugged in. By that time it was too late to retreat and I had to sit there on stage while the choir sang through another song just awkwardly smiling. Seemed massively embarrassing at the time, now I just think it’s funny. I had a few other moments in high school that made me think I may not have the stage presence to be a performer, but I think it’s important for everyone to have some dumb mistakes, I always read my show schedules twice now!
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I don’t exactly make this a secret, but I’m really into skateboarding and skate culture. Any time I have free time I try to get out on a board. Nashville and Pittsburgh both have really great skate scenes and very warm cultures around it. Great parks and awesome shops run by cool people. I love the way landing a trick after working on it for hours, days or even weeks can give you the greatest sense of accomplishment. It brings me together with people that I probably would never have gotten the chance to meet and helps me connect with people from all walks of life over our obsession with our pieces of wood.
If you had to describe your music to an alien how would you describe it?
I’d probably just say that I try to create experiences and impart feeling. I often choose words for lyrics based off the feel the shape of the word evokes rather than the meaning that word might have in typical literature. The music in my songs is all part of the storytelling. For instance, in my song ‘3 Sheets’ the chorus descends and then rises with a sort of triumphant feeling. I wanted to use the music to impart that the main character believes he is winning, even as everything falls apart around him. That was all part of the larger meaning of the piece, that addiction can cause people to lose their sense of the world outside themselves and their recoiling to their own space sometimes feels like triumph and seems impossible to break.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I hope it’s my authenticity. My stories come from real places and are sometimes painful to share. I also hope my influences will help my songs to stand out. I try to listen to as many styles as possible and take influence from every genre. I have projects released in soul, rock, electronic, hip hop, americana and pop and I hope to continue creating whatever feels most authentic to me at a given time.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
Career-wise, I would have to say social media. I find myself constantly comparing myself to others and I don’t think thats particularly healthy. It can be a great tool for reaching a new audience, but I think it’s also shortening attention spans and causing so many artists (myself included) to create something for the numbers, rather than trying to make authentic art.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
Original, would either be Rose-Colored Glasses or a new song I’ve been writing called Chaos. Rose-Colored Glasses because its a jam session with my band and I love to see what those guys can do. Chaos solo because of the flow it carries. Both are love songs written for my girlfriend so I’m sure thats a stronger factor than I’d admit.
Cover, probably ‘Once I Was’ its a song by Tim Buckley that has always held a special place for me and I typically end my sets with it in the right environments. Its an emotional song that feels good on the voice.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
The single is called ‘Incessant’ and I’m super excited about it! It started as a poem by Madison Wrubleski and I just heard music behind it as soon as I read it. I got players from all around the country to play on the track and help me bring it to life and I did the post production work myself.
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
The poem is a metaphysical piece about love that uses contradiction to explain feelings that aren’t always logical but are so strong they can’t be ignored. Through the music I tried to expand on this theme. The piece needed to feel large and expansive, unending and complex. So I tried to create a web of guitar layers, organ, synthesizers and piano that would really open up the space in the song. The solo section was a bit of a climaxing point where all the musical elements joined to create a build that captures the feeling I had when reading the poem.
What was the recording process like?
Complex. I had drums sent to me from Travis Butler in pittsburgh, Piano sent from Chris Potter in LA and Organ sent from Austin Ostiguy here in Nashville. I played guitar, bass and synthesizer on the track in addition to lead and backing vocals. Being your own engineer and producer is a tricky task. You can somehow manage to be too hard on yourself and took lax in the same breath if not careful, and the combination of technical and creative workflows can be jarring.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
My biggest challenge was in dividing up the workflow. Knowing when to switch hats from guitarist to producer to engineer was tough and I definitely learned how helpful having other sets of ears in the process can be, not just for quality, but also for speed of moving through a project.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
For my upcoming EP that is just beginning, I plan to work with some local studios to get some of the engineering off my plate. I always feel the need to have my hands in every aspect of a project and I don’t imagine that changing much, but having an engineer I trust do the tracking and portions of mixing makes me feel less overwhelmed while looking down the barrel at a new project.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Lots of shows! Playing all over Nashville and have some shows in Pittsburgh coming up. I am excited to get working on a new EP that I hope to have out by fall, and just to keep pushing myself towards new projects and opportunities. My favorite thing about this industry is that I don’t usually know what’s coming next until I’m in it! And to share with them world, I’d just wanna say thanks for reading and please keep supporting small artists. Your support means more to the artists in your life than you think.
Thanks for doing us today folks, send this back on a word document and ill get it all ready for you.
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