Dreamy, ambiguous and hypnotizing. Not many words can sum up RYD, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter I was lucky enough to meet with. With a sound similar to Arcade Fire and Beach House, ‘melancholic pop’ is at the centre of his innovativeness. Ryan Downie, a North Londoner causing shockwaves on SoundCloud this year, explains his tunes as more than simply expressions of the everyday human issues, but as warnings and responses to terrifying alienation arising from social media. Even chatting to him in person, it’s easy to see that sometimes songs, ironically so, are about the commonly felt ‘unsaid’. Work It Out, Plans, Could’ve Been and Now There’s Nowhere explore our ‘online world’ and unhealthy obsessions in a mournful, meditative way. They say pure bliss derives from simplicity, and if you want music to study or simply space out for a bit, RYD is your artist.
Q: Hey Ryan, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview! It’s great to chat to up and coming artists on the scene! What inspired you to get into music?
I grew up listening to a variety of music via my parents and played a few different instruments, but I’d say the first time I knew I wanted to pursue it was when I discovered Bombay Bicycle Club. Their music took me to places and Jack Steadman’s vocal filled me with an empathy I’d never felt before. It was so understated and that’s something I’ve always tried to instil in my music.
Q: Your song ‘Work it out’ is about “the avoidance of confrontation in order to spare yourself from grief…addressed to the feeling that most choose to hide from.” I couldn’t relate to that more; how does this kind of song-writing make you feel?
I guess it’s a sense of relief I’m able to express myself in music as, ironically, I’m not great at confronting things either.
Q:I love the fact that contemporary social issues are at the forefront of your music; it’s re-freshing to have young artists deal with this. ‘Could’ve Been’ is about the internet- why have you chosen to engage with this kind of material? Why’s it personally important to you?
Thanks! The issues that I deal with in day to day life are what stem my songwriting, so I use my music as a way to address those thoughts.
Q: It’s funny chatting to a North Londoner; I’m a South Londoner, but am a big fan of the Camden scene. How did growing up in this area influence you? I know Dua Lipa went to your school, for example.
Camden is a good area for music, but I’d say it’s more London in general that had an impact on me, having constant access to gigs and new music really made being a musician feel attainable.
Q: What do you think of Liverpool? Would you ever think of doing gigs up here?
It’s a really lovely city and definitely hope to play there sometime in the near future.
Q: It’s amazing to listen to music so therapeutic, but how do you know when a song is truly finished?
That’s really hard to answer and, to be honest, a song never feels finished to me. But, I’ve had to learn to have a cut off point otherwise I’d never finish anything, so probably when the song feels like it has a final meaning.
RYD’s latest single, Could’ve Been, was released on 23rd February.
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