Seated across the road from Brighton’s Copperdollar Studios on a chilly Friday afternoon, Ry X is digging into some food ahead of a session slotted into his schedule at The Great Escape.
“Would you like some?” he asks, offering me some of his meal as I join him on the bench. I gratefully decline, knowing how tightly our scheduled interview slot is running, though you’d never know, to be in the presence of someone as laid-back as Ry.
“Of course, I’m here for you,” he says, as I thank him for his time.
The rise of Ry X’s profile in that last year has been considerable and for Australian fans, possibly slightly sudden. Since relocating to the vastly different surrounds of both Berlin and Los Angeles, the NSW native has been working solidly on generating a name for himself as producer, songwriter, vocalist and ethereal live performer. It’s an approach to crafting music that finally led him to the release of his debut solo album in Dawn (out now). The album has only officially been out a few weeks but already, its swirling atmospheric nature has struck a chord with live crowds both in Europe and through the US.
Posters of the album’s artwork can currently be seen plastered throughout the London Underground, while street press beckons you to listen to the record on Spotify. For audiences at The Great Escape, Ry’s set at St. George’s Church later on that night was a highly anticipated one and man, did he pull one hell of a live experience.
“I can feel it at the moment,” he says, as we talk about this momentum surrounding Dawn. “I can feel a bit of a shift. I’ve put a tonne of energy into the live show; I just really want the live show to grow into this really amazing point, where it’s more than the record, even. It’s really starting to get there now and it feels really consolidated and exciting every night. It’s different every night and it’s growing and expanding; the response has been amazing. I definitely feel the energy from people, which is the best.”
While it may be some time yet before Australia will see Ry return home with his new music, the idea of the sun kissed beaches of home is never far from his mind.
“I thought about moving out to Byron many, many times. I really have.” he says. “Especially because I’ve been touring so much, this idea of going out to just surf, do yoga and hang out afterwards just sounds incredibly romantic to me. Though, I also recognise how important for me it is at the moment to be in a community of people who are pushing boundaries, that are really focused on making good art and creating social change in the world as well.”
“Obviously that happens in places like Byron and Melbourne and Sydney, but I’ve just sown the seeds in these places for a long time, especially living in and out of Berlin and in and out of LA. Those two places have been like home for a very long time. I definitely still feel, in my heart, that the Byron area is my home. It’s just a shame that they’re all about a 10-12 hour flight from each other! I need some frequent flyer miles happening!”
In describing the music of Dawn within the live space that Ry has come to really flourish within over recent months of touring, he explains the importance put upon ensuring each sound on record is given as much room to breathe and grow as possible during the show. A reliance on a backing mix or set up of tracks is one Ry’s not content to become dependent upon and as a result, he’s found himself to be pushing his live shows into territories he’s not previously ventured.
“To not have a computer on stage,” he enthuses, when asked what his favourite part of touring currently is. “Not playing backing tracks and having really humble, amazing players with me – from a technical standpoint, we have a lot going on. We’ve got a lot of old analogue synths, we’ve got broken down mass drum kits, piano, organ…there’s three of us in the core thing and we loop a lot of stuff and create a lot of soundscapes.”
“It’s almost done in a Sigur Rós way,” Ry adds. “We can grow it and expand into eight or nine minute versions of songs. It’s really hard work, to be able to do some of those things without a computer, because it’s what everybody relies on on stage these days, but I really wanted it to breathe and flow. To not have it be orientated around that nonsense, frankly. In the last handful of shows, I’ve brought in a cello and viola player, which is really amazing as well. We’re just going for this really beautiful and real palette of sound where you’ve got synths and you’ve got this stuff expanding, but it’s around this core of musical instruments.”
It’s not easy to bring this full set up on the road, he admits. Still, establishing this evocative live music experience for his fans keeps things fresh and it means that for Ry, the process of seeing where his music can continue to develop outside the studio becomes an even more textured and colourful one.
“It takes a lot of work,” he admits. “It takes tonnes more rehearsals, it takes way more money and it takes more energy. It takes writing new parts, it takes pulling songs apart that you put on a record and learning how to play them in a different way. That also makes it better. People have been doing it a long time, whether it’s Radiohead or Björk, these people have found a way to integrate electronics with live stuff. This massive sound with only a few people, keeping it really real and really tactile. I work really hard on curating a whole experience within the venue so that people come along and it’s this immersive world where they just dive into it.”
Dawn by Ry X is out now. Find out more about his world tour dates HERE.