10 Questions with ... Ryan Star
April 28, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I was a sax player because my sister said they were the best kissers. I heard Pearl Jam for the first time and formed a band called STAGE the next day. Our first gig was at CBGB's when I was just 14. I've done TV shows, theme songs, music for film, fancy dinners, radio, giant tours, small tours, Leno, hole in the wall clubs, driving through the night, I've had gear stolen, etc. Now I have recorded my greatest work to date called "Angels + Animals."
1) Please tell us about your new release called "Angels + Animals" and the new single "Impossible?"
Angels and Animals is a true album. It is a story from beginning to end. It is a hero's journey. I put everything I had into this and I came out of this one a new person. I even shaved my head!
2) What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes, and how do you taylor your music to fit in with contemporary artists that are now getting played at radio?
My approach is simple. I tell an honest story.
3) Please tell us about your experience funding your new record through a crowd funding site? (Pledge Music).
I believe in the technology Pledge Music has to offer. They really figured out how to reach the fans that want more out of music than just streaming the latest single online. For an album like Angels + Animals, Pledge Music is perfect because this album tells a full story and the fans can feel that and be a part of the journey.
4) What are your thoughts on satellite radio and streaming radio services like Pandora, iRadio, Slacker, or on demand services like Spotify, Deezer, Beats, and others?
I love getting exposure to new music through these outlets. They're like the guy behind the counter at Tower Records who would tell you what was new.
But to be most honest, I wish everything wasn't so accessible now. I love the idea of buying a vinyl album and bringing it to your friend's house because he can't find it anywhere. Some of my greatest memories are listening to music with my friends. Not multitasking, just listening.
5) Please tell us what it was like going from a major record company, to actually starting your own label? What are some of the pros and cons to running your own record company?
It was very freeing. You don't realize how much the biz can get into your artist head while you're in it. I like not having a filter between me and my message again. You can see and hear it.
I was at a point in my career where I needed to gain complete creative control. There are so many filters between the music and the artist at bigger labels. The straight up truth is pop artists need that machine to help find them songs and dress them and brush their teeth and tell them when to jump. But that model doesn't work for all artists. The great creative minds in our industry are few and far between these days, so to think they know what is right is delusional.
On the other end, when I am dealing with business and getting my vision out I am not writing or doing what I am meant to be at that moment. So I am still figuring it out.
If any of you high up billionaires and chairmen are reading this please call me. You have no idea how much you are missing out on! That's what I have learned from being an artist on both sides. I absolutely believe and have proof that I have the formula to bring back the music biz to a very healthy place. It took sleeping on floors and dealing with a lot of the wrongs in this business to see it, but I absolutely see it. The problem is they keep hiring, firing and re-hiring the same people.
6) How are you using social media to connect with your fans? Are there any new social media sites or strategies that you've found to be effective?
It's all too much. Picture Jim Morrison in the desert tripping on peyote with an iPhone. He would never have written "The End." Although he may have had a jackass viral video.
7) How do you capture your idea for a new song when the inspiration hits you?
I wake up every morning and I sit at my piano (morning meditation). I open up and just let it flow through me. The more honest and real I am the easier it is. Although some lines have taken me years to complete, I am not a fan of working so hard at it.
8) What's been the most significant change in the business since you've been in it?
I could say technology, the Internet and apps, but the biggest difference is simple. There are not as many risk takers to make the big moves. They seem to have gone into other fields.
9) Do you have any advice for upcoming musicians?
I usually take advice from up and comers but if they ask, then I think the key is to just be you. Really, just be yourself cause nobody else can do that better! It's your fingerprint, your DNA, and if it's great and the miracle happens then you will be happier than some of my biggest rock star friends who know they are full of shit and chasing their whole life. If money is what you are after, go into finance.
10) What is the one truth that has always remained constant throughout your career?
Don't give up.
How are you using new music technologies to record music and in your personal life?
I have always been on the cutting edge with technology, but needing to know it sonically is better and not just easier. I hate that everyone is using the same sample libraries for everything. I don't like that my EQ on my stereo looks the same when I put a Kesha or Skrillex album in. My new album sounds different because we put the time in to do it right.
Who are some of the new artists who inspire you?
I love The 1975. They're a great modern band with real shit to say. I believe them. Chvrches nailed the synth thing sonically and even in their writing. They take the crown there. I love Lorde and her message. Beyond that, my Brooklyn neighbors The National and my fav Bon Iver.
I don't know? Anybody?