Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter and guitarist Kelley Ryan, who discusses her new album, “Telescope,” as well as breaking down her influences and goals for the future.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Kelley Ryan: My Dad was a DJ and I fell in love with a guitar he bought me when I was 12 years old. I guess I’m still trying to impress my father all these years later! hahaha.
Review Fix: What has inspired your sound the most?
Ryan: The people I work with both recording and writing music. Don Dixon, Marshall Crenshaw, Bill Demain, Kimm Rogers, Jesse Valenzuela, Cliff Hillis..ALL of them are amazing musicians and writers. I certainly strive to keep up with their level of musicianship as best I can. Without a doubt, singing with Marti Jones has inspired me to be a better singer.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Ryan: Well, I pretty much use my entire recording studio as an instrument for songwriting as much as any single guitar or keyboard. I don’t really know for sure what I will end up with before I start. I guess I just sort of “dive-in” and start swimming and see where the flow takes me. Hopefully, I end up in a good place. haha.
A lot of writers and producers I know specifically plan out what they want the song to sound like BEFORE they even make a sound. The traditional way to “build” a song I think is to start with the drums…add the bass and guitars…any other instruments go on next and then the vocals are last. I pretty much to it in reverse. I start with the vocals, and maybe a little melodic guitar line, and then add all the other stuff after the fact. To me nothing should interfere with the mood of the vocal and the lyrics. It’s all about the song.
Review Fix: What makes “Telescope” a special album?
Ryan: All of my other records were kind of assembled song by song. That is I would finish an entire song, put it on the stack and then start another one until I had enough for a record. For *Telescope* I did it differently. I would work on one song until I got stuck, and then I’d put it aside and pick up another and work on that song until I ran into a jam, and so on. I sort of had 10 things going on at once. You know like reading a bunch of different books at the same time. This was unconscious, but in hindsight I DO think the method of putting this record together makes it different that my previous efforts. I also think it’s why the mood all the way through is so cohesive. Oh, and, besides my usual cohorts Don Dixon, Marti Jones and Jim Brock I was lucky to have Jon Thornton play his horns on most of the record. That REALLY helped to make *Telescope* special I think.
Review Fix: Who will dig it the most?
Ryan: Honestly, probably me. I am SO proud and grateful to get to work with such excellent musicians that I respect so much. It’s just ‘as good as it gets’ for a me as a songwriter to hear my writing decorated with such talent.
Review Fix: Why should someone pick up this album?
Ryan: It is calming record and the mood is a nice distraction from the insanity that is our world lately. For me, recording it was definitely a break from the cacophony and bombardment of information that seems to be running rampant on our planet. I hope that it’s is the same for anyone who listens to it.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Ryan: To go back into my studio and do another. The reason I do this is for the love. Truly. As long as I am inspired to go back into my studio and try to dig a little deeper musically, that is my goal. What’s next?…to keep going!
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Ryan: Well, besides thanking you for taking the time to send these questions and listen to my answers…(thank you)…I will leave you a link to my youTube channel here in case you need a video. I have 8 of the 10 songs up there from *Telescope* with the last 2 in the works, here.
Photo by Amos Perrine