RY X – Interview

Foto-© Sophia Kahlenberg

Wenn Ry X auf der Bühne steht, passiert Magisches mit dem gesamten Raum. Irgendwie erscheint er wie ein Fabelwesen, mit dieser außergewöhnlichen Falsettstimme und eindrucksvollem Orchester im Hintergrund. Auf der anderen Seite so real. So angekommen im Hier und Jetzt. Gerade erschien seine neue Platte Unfurl, die nicht minder besonders ist als ihr Vorgänger Dawn. Die Imagination einer sich filigran und sanft entfaltenden Blüte passt ganz wunderbar. Schon gemerkt, dass wir echte Fans sind? Die Freude darüber, dass Ry sich vor Veröffentlichung Zeit für ein Treffen in Berlin und unsere Fragen nahm, war entsprechend groß. Aber lest selbst:

When leaving your music contract in 2010, did you intuitively know, that this was gonna work out either way? That you didn’t have to sell your soul, trying to fit into the specific idea of an industry. But that having the courage to go and follow your heart would bring you to the right space eventually? Or was this time of transition guided by doubt, too?
I knew that if i‘d stay true to myself it would work out. I just didn’t know that it was gonna be music again. I didn’t think it would be music again. I thought maybe I was gonna go to India again to teach yoga, you know surf or something else. I didn’t know, but I didn’t want to deal with the industry any more. I didn’t want to deal with the commercial aspects of people trying to create product. I just didn’t understand it. It’s amazing that it’s music again, it‘s amazing that that’s how I get to communicate with people and share my heart and hopefully create some change. I think anybody that truly follows their heart, regardless of what ends up being their way of being in the world – it’s gonna work.

There’s this beautiful quote, I’m probably not gonna get it together..
Try it!

It’s by Julia Cameron, it goes along the lines of if you really commit to staying true to yourself, you’re always gonna trigger the support of the universe.
Exactly! I mean the way that i try to describe it is that if you start moving towards something you love, you move, you’re not waiting for anybody else. And when people see you walking, they want to know. Where’s this person walking towards? You say ‘I’m following my heart’. And they go, ‘ah I want to help you. Where is that? I want to know what that place looks like.’ So it’s a beautiful thing, where you also get to mirror and help other people. Its like chopping through a jungle, some days on your own and to a place that nobody has ever seen before. As an artist, you wake up and you’re exploring the unknown. And other days you wake up and it’s all easy. It is a commitment, but it’s a worthwhile one.

You then moved to Indonesia to study yoga and meditation..
Yeah and to surf. To be in nature and to not be in the industry any longer and just be a human being. That was very important, to leave LA, to leave Europe and just go somewhere, where it was irrelevant. What was relevant is who you are, when you’re there.

To reconnect with yourself.
Yeah, it’s super important.

You grew up in Angourie in Australia, have been based in LA for years and in Berlin in between too. The extremes between wild nature and concrete jungle couldn’t be any bigger I suppose.
No, no. Although now I have a balance, you know. Where I live now, it’s pretty mellow. I live in this little artist nook on the outskirts of LA. I don’t have to walk out of my house really, I don’t have to think that way. You know, it’s barefoot all day, grow vegetables, go surfing.

Oh dear, what a dream!
I’m trying!

I was gonna ask, if you need both to strive or if you’re ever missing one when you’re at the other?
You do need both, but you have to find a balance. You need both still to stay relevant as an artist. You can go into nature and make art all day, but you still need to share that somehow. You still need to be able to move back into a world and share it. There’s this whole conversation within artist and spiritual realms right now. You used to be able to go and be a monk in a cave and sit there and meditate for the rest of your life. Now your job is to go and meditate for a minute and bring the information back and share it with people. Because there need to be more teachers, there need to be more people creating change. The role is changing a little bit.

That’s the hard bit too. It’s one thing sitting in a cave meditating, but coming back into a word that’s overloaded with information and still keeping the peace you found is another.
Yes! And how do you do that, right? Once you’ve reached enlightenment, you keep that anywhere apparently. But it’s a lot easier for us to be in Bali and feel peaceful. How do you keep that in Berlin in the winter?

I shall let you know, once I know the answer to that question..
Let’s go back to your music. Dawn you recorded in the hills of LA, where you created a sacred space with the intention of recording an album, as I understood. How did Unfurl… unfurl?

How did Unfurl unfurl? It’s unfurling.

Thank god it is.
It was a little different. I used the same studio for some of it, but it was a little different in the creation. I really focused on being alone in Tapango Canyon up in the mountains. I took the time to become human again, after a lot of touring, a lot of things happening in my personal life too. It was challenging and I had to really come back to simplicity and come back to being near the ocean and being back with my friends and community and just slowing down. And when you slow down, your thoughts become a little more grounded, a little more honest, a little more raw. And I started creating and writing from that place. It was important for me, that I made this record from that kind of place in my heart. When I started to touch that, tab that, I knew I was on the right path and stayed in that as long as I could. But it’s a lot of work. You have to keep bringing yourself back into that state. Every time you get a little caught up with ‘oh I wanna go to that dance performance or art gallery’ you need to say actually, I need to stay here and finish this album.’ So it’s discipline as well.

Going back to finding a flow in the information overload?
Yes. Although you need both, but balanced. And you get inspired in different ways, when you go see art.

Speaking of that inspiration. You’re jumping between projects a lot. Obviously there’s your work as Ry X, but then also Howling and The Acid. Do you define a red line for yourself somehow or how do you keep your inspiration flowing for each of them? Is there ever a moment when you create for yourself, but then think nah this is too electronic, maybe this could be for The Acid?
A little bit in myself, yes. But not to the point, where I stop creating. I just create and let it flow through and then you can decide where it ends up. There are a couple of pieces, that I started thinking it could be for The Acid or Howling, but then realising there is a way I could make this Ry X. There’s this song on here, that Frank and I are doing. A kind of remix edition to a much longer version on the Howling record. I know that it’s breaking the rules doing all the projects at the same time, but it’s.. for me I have a lot of different forms of expression, a lot of different parts of myself. And so I need to feel free enough to create across genres. That means the work is gonna bleed into each other at certain points. But really, Ry X is about just the most raw version in a way, just the most inward version. When I sit alone and I create, generally I try to put that as Ry X. And stuff I make with Frank is Howling and stuff I make with Adam and Steve is The Acid. And I’m working on those two records at the moment too.

Well THAT is great news.
The next album that’ll be finished will probably be Howling with Frank. And then The Acid. And they’re both probably be finished this year. So it’s a lot of energy and outpouring. You just have to keep the channels open, you know. I really believe that this idea of writers block is stagnancy. So for me, once I open those channels, if I had to write something today in this room I could do it. Just open it, just flow and don’t second guess.

You’ve got to have a lot of trust doing that, I guess?
Yeah trust, a lot of trust. And you have to write 50 songs to make a great album. It’s not just the twelve that make it on there. You always have to make a lot, but for me that’s the time right now. To create and to outpour.

During your last shows you toured with beautiful live orchestras, which really was a mesmerizing experience to watch. A room full of people creating this quietly powerful space together. After such a unique experience, how did you figure out where to go next?
Thank you! I mean it was difficult, because it was a dream come true, to play with orchestras. Something I’ve been working towards for many years. It’s like the blending of worlds with this orchestral energy coming in.. it’s something I’m gonna keep using, but you can’t just repeat yourself all the time. When I think of the great artists before me, that I love and who are always finding new ways to express themselves. So it’s a continued evolution for me, really. I’m evolving the live show, obviously with new songs, but with different instruments and different kind of ways to look at it. I’m working with visuals as well, a lot of stuff that I directed. I’ve got these beautiful, black and white imagery, that I’m working to integrate as projection. You just gotta keep on growing and keep challenging yourself. But I mean, you stand there and the orchestra is playing, it’s just.. sometimes I want to lie down on stage, even in the middle of the show and just take it in.

You just mentioned the music videos. There’s the aspect of dance, of movement that is reacuring. When watching them I think of dance as prayer, like a play around stillness. What role does dance play for you?
Well, movement. I grew up with dancing and movement being a part of my life. Even surfing, it’s like a form of dance, a form of expression. It’s so unique how each one of us move our bodies. A lot of my community of artists in LA are incredible dancers, it’s so breathtaking. And performance artists. Their instrument is their body. I think there’s so much purity, when you can express art through the form, through the body. So I love using dance and movement for that reason. Just to break open the layers of the way, we experience things.

How do you picture a new album being received by your listeners? What do you want them to take Raway? With the lyrics for example, would you want others to understand your experience? Or maybe the experience shaped the emotion in your voice and comes across that way anyway – and the actual facts in the end aren’t as important any longer?
Yeah, I think that’s it. I’m not concerned with people knowing the fine detail. That’s for them, if they want to. What’s important for me is that their energy is transferred. And when people hear music, even if they don’t understand the lyrics, they understand the intention and the feeling behind it. So it’s almost more powerful, when someone can get calalyzed with their own individual experience as opposed to transposing, this was my experience and you need to know it. For me it’s much more about having my experience, putting it in the art and sharing the art. Somebody else, they take it in their own way. Some people feel beauty, some feel sadness, some feel freedom. It needs to be a unique experience for everybody. My job is just to help catalyze that feeling in people. That’s a lot of the reason, why I keep making music. It’s for others.

That’s interesting, maybe sometimes that is what makes it so special listening to music from, you mentioned India. Where you don’t understand the words at all?
I mean Ragas, you feel god in them. You feel spirit. They play music for their idea of god, that’s why it’s so powerful. They’re not playing for their ego or an audience, they’re playing for a higher energy. That’s something I’ve really tried to integrate, from listening to a lot of Ragas and African music. You play it for spirit and then everybody gets it anyway.

Before we run out of time, YaYaYa is just so beautiful. Please tell me more about this song.
It’s one of my favorite ones from the record too. This song is about the questioning between what is fate and what is the chosen path. Was this fated? Was this my choice, to put myself in this moment? And saying yes regardless. There’s this beauty of saying yes and opening your heart to it. And then realizing that it’s a combination of the idea, that certain things are in us from our DNA, from our conditioning, from the way we’ve been nurtured. Those things are there, and it’s our choice, what to do with those and how we use them, to create more beauty and change rather than to get stuck. And then, when I speak in the song, there’s a lot of conversation between myself and the feminine. Speaking to a partner or lover, it’s always part of it. The way I understand or communicate, is through relationship. It’s these two things I explored. But recording, it just takes me. I recorded it on guitar and then twelve hours later, the song sounds like that. Sometimes I don’t even remember everything I’ve put into it, it just goes.

Ry X Tour:
03.03. Fabrik, Hamburg – ausverkauft
07.03. Verti Music Hall, Berlin
08.03. Täubchental, Leipzig
09.03. TonHalle, München
11.03. Wagenhalle, Stuttgart
12.03. Batschkapp, Frankfurt
13.03. Carlswerk Victoria, Köln

Sophia Kahlenberg

Sophia, 29. Fotografin. Dann kam das Schreiben. Verspürt starkes Herzklopfen beim Wort ‚Australien‘. Aber Berlin ist auch ok.

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