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RYAN GRAVES

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW SEATTLES RYAN GRAVES

Hiya Ryan thanks for joining us again,  grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I’ve always been a musician, always written songs.  I LOVE the creative songwriting process, to see a song germinate from a seed to a blossom, and to witness its evolution, has always been amazing to me: to be able to look back and see that hindsight-is-20/20 maturation of where a song started and where it ended up, it’s just always been so very cool to me.  I love singing and performing: it’s incredibly fulfilling and rewarding to share what God has given me to share, and to see and hear people receive it and tell me that they’ve been inspired by it in some way.

Introduce us to you and your musical history.

I started singing at age 7 or 8.  I remember sitting on the kitchen counter in the home of my youth, singing “Ben” by Michael Jackson to my family members who were around the corner…I didn’t want them to watch me while I sang, haha.  But I finished the song to rousing applause, and it gave me the confidence I needed at an early age.  From there it was just a process of perfecting it through continual performance and practice. 

I finally started producing my first album in 1995 and released it in 1997. It was called “Servant” and it was incredibly well received.  From there I went on to produce 12 other albums, with the latest being “Human”, released on 9/11/23.  My band members include my longtime faithful cohort, friend, and producer Paul Racey, drummer Jonathan Larson, guitarist and vocalist Josiah Toole, bassist Jeffrey Gutterud, and keyboardist Joe Monzon.  They all, quite simply, rock.

What was life like for you before music?

Regular.  Normal.  Certainly not boring, but I was just unsure what to do with my life.  Music provided a grounding and fundamentally fulfilling path forward, and it’s something that I just haven’t been able to escape in my life, nor wanted to.

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

Probably something like “Sunshine” by John Denver.  I remember that song being so drippingly sweet and melodic, floating, and romantic, even as a young kid.  It was so memorable and sing-songy, and you just can’t get the tune out of your head.  I loved it so much – never tired of it even though my parents probably overplayed it on their record player.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

I’m Indie for sure.  Unrecognized except on a local or regional level, and that’s OK.  These things take time.  It isn’t my aim to sit on the fringe, but if I can do that and still retain who I am, and learn and grow as an artist, then that’s totally fine. 

I cherish personal relationships with people: relationships grounded in reality, good conversations, and knowing each other.  You kind of lose that when you start distancing yourself from your fans and there’s 6’ of separation between the stage and you, and the ground floor and them.  I don’t like tiers.  I’m equal with my supporters.  I actually hate the word fan…I count my “fans” as my supporters and friends, and I am inherently and deeply grateful for every CD purchased, every supportive post made, every attendee at any one of my shows…So grateful.

What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry? 

That it’s OK to be myself, even if it isn’t 100% accepted by everyone else.  It is so immeasurably easy to get swallowed up by the machine and lose who you are, and become a product of what management wants you to be.  I want to be me.  Oscar Wilde said “be you; everyone else is already taken.”  I freaking love that quote.

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

Ha!  How much time do you have for the lie portion?  Let’s see.  Two truths:  One, I’m deathly afraid of spiders.  Don’t judge me.  Two, I’m hopelessly addicted to Taco Bell.  I can feel you judging me.  And a lie?  Hmm.  I’m a spitting image of someone rabidly handsome like Tom Cruise or Matt Damon.  Except I’m maybe one of the images you see in a carnival funhouse mirror: warped and unusual.  I’m ok with it!

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

For people to continue buying CD’s.  Streams pay pennies.  They don’t support your career.  CD’s put bread on the table.  A LOT goes into the production of a CD jacket and artwork: the photos…the liner notes… the thanks… the credits… the lyrics…the layout.  It’s something that you can actually OWN.  In this day and age, you stop paying your subscription, and your music goes bub-bye.  You actually own your CD’s.

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

Well, in this day and age, you’re pretty much toast if you don’t say the same thing everyone else says.  If you dare to stick your neck out and put it on the chopping block by voicing your opinion, and if that opinion doesn’t jive with what’s politically correct, you can be a goner.  It’s really, really sad.  This is the land of cancel culture and oppressive silencing. 

Especially for Christians.  Hey, I didn’t write the Bible, but I believe in it. Every word is inspired by God, and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that.  But it’s unpopular, it’s controversial, and its opinionated. God is opinionated.  And thus, He (and by extension, me) are opinion-HATED.  Such is life I guess, but you do have to walk a fine line.  You can’t please everyone.

What was the worst experience on stage?

Ugh!  Forgetting lyrics! That is the worst: forgetting lyrics to your own songs, yeeshk!  I just wrote a song for “Human” called “Enemy” and BOY is it rife with words…it’s delightful fodder for making mistakes, quite honestly, so I’m not certain that I’ll ever sing it on stage unless my eyes can be glued to a lyric monitor.  I pride myself on quality lyrics that are memorable and that really communicate what I’m feeling.  To then forget those on stage is a huge personal failure for me.

Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about. 

That I’m deathly afraid of spiders.  I said stop judging me!!  Seriously though, I’m very self-conscious.  But then again, most artists are.

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

I think the fact that I am sort of a male…Christian…Alanis Morissette.  I think that’s a fitting description.  I’m a big guy, and my vocals bely that.  I think when people meet me in person they’re not sure that I’m actually the vocalist.  I’m also a very savvy businessman and pride myself on that.  I market heavily, I put myself out there, and I treat my music business professionally and with the utmost of focus in order to be successful.  I am deeply goal- and success-driven.

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

Oh my gosh!  Thank you!  human turned out way better than I could have expected. Human is my 13th CD, and it is my 7th major commercial release (following Servant, Angst, The Collection, SonicLogos, Captive & Legacy).  I’ve also produced 6 other private releases. Human was something that I just couldn’t wait on.  As with Legacy, I had a great opportunity to work with Max Gaver once more on resurrecting some of my older (but still powerful) music, and I think you’re going to love them.  Especially Everything, Grace, Enemy, Dissonance, and the titular track, Human

Also One Man and Meadows are pretty stinking cool, and those come from Max’s wheelhouse as well: he sequenced them, and I wrote the lyrics, melody and harmonies. In an age of AI this and AI that, the message is unmistakably clear: even though it’s tough being human, our humanity matters. In addition, I was blown away to discover that my longtime friend and web designer (who designed my website) Chris Cummings, is also a musician! 

What a goof!  (Me, not him.)  I’m sure he told me way back when, and I’m sure I forgot.  Chris has produced some stellar stuff over the years, and a few of those songs really hit me right in the feels. I knew when I heard Game Theory and Shadows in Shadows that they were destined to become hits, and Chris graciously allowed me to use these songs to set lyrics and melodies to them, and produce some powerful tunes. Thus, Fear of Man, Enemy, Grace, 139, Dissonance, and Human were born. This album is sick!  It’s filled with peace and strife…quiet and rage…just like, uh, pretty much all of life.  Like Captive, many of these songs are about the human condition.  Thus, Human.

What was the recording process like?

I recently souped up my voiceover studio to accommodate vocals, and it was SO nice recording everything at home.  I didn’t need to feel self-conscious under the watchful eyes of some engineer I’d just met, not knowing how he felt about me, my vocals, or my music…and I could just record in my underwear, which is always nice.  I really enjoyed being able to use my new Neumann U87, and mix everything myself, although being your own artist AND engineer makes for a lot of trips back and forth into the booth.  It’s all good: I need the exercise (see prior comment about Taco Bell).

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

Not necessarily in writing, it was just the mixing side.  A HUGE eye-opener for me, and took a while to really perfect.  I had to watch a lot of YouTube videos and read books on proper mixing and engineering, and really enjoyed doing so!  I loved the learning curve and am so ready to take on the next project now that I know so much more.

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Well, I’m a Freshman mixer…so this could have been mixed better, I’m sure.  We’ll see what the world says.  But I’m no George Lucas, and I know when to leave well enough alone.  The good thing is that it’s far beyond “well enough.”  I think it’s terrific, and I’ve received reviews from friends and family that like it too, and people and vendors such as on Groover.co have begun sharing it, so, that’s validation as well.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and He loves this fragile human.  I’m so grateful.

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