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Interview: Ryan Shane Owen
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What got you into your career now, and if you had not gotten into it what would you be doing today?
I`ve been playing the piano since I was 8 years old, and attended a performing arts high school where I studied music, singing, dance and acting. I went to post-secondary school for music production and then to art school. So I`ve always been involved in some aspect of the arts. If I wasn't doing what I`m doing now, I would be working in another aspect of the arts like I have over my adult life- from working in sets and costume for film, tv, and theatre, or as a visual artist, which I still do, having my artwork currently in a gallery in Los Angeles. I`ve also been in 5 different musical duos/groups over the years, previously acting more as producer than front person before I "went solo". I would still like to collaborate with other artists in the future.
What do you like to do when you are not working and how does that influence your creativity?
When I'm not working, I like to exercise and work out, cook healthy meals, and watch a lot of TV! I love to be outdoors also. Staying healthy helps me focus the discipline I need to accomplish and finish projects. It's easy to start something, but not easy to see it through to completion. It takes a lot of hard work, and one of the mottos I live by is "inspiration will come, but it has to find you working". I have to push myself very hard to do what I do, and although I love the creative aspect of making music and videos, the technical side of things can be very tedious and takes a lot of patience.
How long has this been your career?
I released my first solo music video in 2012, but didn't get back to my solo music full time until autumn 2018, when I started doing regular videos on YouTube and Instagram of cover songs while working on my original music. I released my first album in January 2021, which was music I'd been working on over the years, and then released my second album in May 2021 of all new music.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your creativity?
I'm based out of British Columbia, Canada. I live in a rural area high up in the mountains close to a ski resort. But I grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada, and I've lived in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Toronto, and Montreal, as well as Tucson, Arizona and Los Angeles. Everywhere I've lived has greatly influenced my music, and many songs have references to the different places I've lived. However, living where I currently am, surrounded by nature, has given me the space, time, and peace to bring my work into fruition. I don't know how or if I would have been able to do it if I were not living where I now live.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have performed?
I was in a stage production of the Broadway musical "Catch Me If You Can". The music is great, there's lots of dancing and singing, which is challenging to do at the same time, but it was very fun, especially the part with a whole row of airline pilots and stewardesses in a long kick line! I was later in a stage production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in which one night a set malfunction caused the cross to break with the actor on it as it was being raised. That was probably the worst night, but thankfully no one was injured.
Tell me about your favorite venue to perform at, and do you have any places you want to perform that you have not already?
There are many places I would love to perform at, but there are some beautiful outdoor spots around where I live that I think would be very cool to stage an outdoor show at.
If you could perform any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
If I could choose any living artists to perform in a lineup with, I would choose Roisin Murphy, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa, Gorgon City, Chromeo, Royksopp, Lindstrom, Trentmoller, Massive Attack, Bjork, Blondie, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Ferry, Giorgio Moroder, Annie Lennox, Kylie Minogue, Empire of the Sun, Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Lana Del Rey, Robyn, Scissor Sisters, Goldfrapp, Gorillaz, Haim, Keisza, The Knife, Ladytron, Walk The Moon and Stevie Nicks! Wow! What a festival that would be!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into the industry?
I would say you have to learn patience. I once heard Madonna say something like "unless you can't live without doing it, don't do it". I agree with that, as it's been incredibly difficult. I'd say not to wait for someone to make everything happen for you, and to try and learn as much as you possibly can about every aspect of the industry. I would say to take your time and not rush your work. True artists view their work as a lifetime work in progress, so although it's what everyone feels, you can't expect everything to happen fast. Maybe it does for some people, but sometimes there is more value in letting an artist and their work mature and develop. It takes time to figure out exactly who you are and what makes you and your work unique. I always disliked the concept of artists having a stable job "to fall back on", as it implies failure. I would tell someone that your life will be much easier and smoother if you are able to get a stable job "to help get you there" instead. Many mistakes are made by artists trying to make money from their work too quickly.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I once saw a quote that said something like "the most pain we cause ourselves in life is by trying to reach the top of the mountain in one leap". This is the main piece of advice I'd give myself, although I probably still wouldn't listen! It's no fun learning patience and perseverance, but worth it.
Of your work which one means the most to you and why?
My 2 original albums I released this year are definitely my biggest accomplishments so far. They mean a lot to me, as I've been dreaming about doing it my whole life. I never knew quite how I would do it, so the fact that I've been able to fully write, compose, perform and produce them completely on my own gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write?
It's a very long and winding process involving dreams, ideas, inspirations, colors, melodies, dancing, playing, singing and working, going between piano, guitar and digital programming, laboring over piles of scraps of ideas on paper and notes, hours of technical programming and arranging, gradually condensed and distilled into a finished product.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your work?
I like there to be creative ideas and intelligent poetics and wordplay in my work. I also like an element of atmosphere and fun. Often in dance music, the lyrics can be very simple and repetitive, leaving much to be desired. I always liked when a well written song was remixed into a dance song, so I am aiming to write and produce original dance music with the lyrical quality of great pop and rock music.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
People always have different ideas and likes. As well as different skills, talents, and level of abilities. Depending on the person and the chemistry, it can be very difficult to come up with a happy medium. I guess it's just something you have to work through, and do the best you can to make it work.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I'm currently making the last 3 videos for my recent album, Symphony for the Stereo. I make my videos entirely on my own also. Then I'm going to do a few more cover songs, and start working on a new album over the summer, to release in the fall. https://open.spotify.com/artist/4h8GxtkSTJiWRZOZRdxAlN