Interview with Rkham
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
A: “My music journey actually began from a place of hurt and depression.
I was looking to put my life back together after losing not only someone I loved at the time, but also my religious faith, which was a huge cornerstone in my life, and played a huge part in the drama that ensued during this time period.
Music gave me a sense of comfort, and an outlet to express how I felt.
If I wasn’t pursuing music, I would most likely want to become a Business Owner of some kind based on how much I love building and managing something of my own.
If not that, I would possibly become a Fitness Trainer, and at one time in my life, that was what I was pursuing, or at least desiring to do.
I spend a lot of time maintaining my health, and I still desire to use that knowledge to help others feel healthy and confident!”
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
A: “I spend a lot of time in the gym to help improve my mindset and my overall body function. That helps relieve a lot of the stress that comes with being an independent artist who wants to keep growing.
It helps grow my mental and physical strength which in turn increases my ability and endurance to perform live.
Gives me more self-confidence, which reflects in the content I create.
And helps me build the mental fortitude to deal with negative people.
I also love playing outdoor sports such as Football, Basketball, and Hiking!
For the same reasons as the gym, it helps me grow and improve mentally and physically.
I also love playing home console video games such as the Nintendo Switch and the PS4, and that allows me to immerse myself in different art styles and different worlds, which in turn gives me cool and unique ideas that I can either apply to my music directly and/or indirectly. Some of my favorite gaming franchises of all-time are Sony’s Uncharted, Playstation’s Sly Cooper, Animal Crossing, Madden NFL, The Legend of Zelda, The Batman Arkham Series, Insomniac’s Spider-Man, Spyro, & Mario.
How long have you been creating music?
A: “I started conceptualizing my career in February of 2018, but didn’t release my first single until June of 2018.
I had never pursued music as a child, so when I started in 2018, that was truly my starting point. I was 21 at the time.”
Where are you based out of and how does that influence your music?
A: “I was born, raised, and am currently based out of the small town of Roscoe in the state of Illinois in the US.
A very small town that is a few hours away from one of the largest cities in the US ironically, Chicago.
The town atmosphere itself hasn’t had much of an impact on my music, but the roots I’ve laid here definitely have!”
How did you come up with your artist name and what does it mean to you?
A: “I actually came up with my stage name from a love of Batman, in particular, the Batman Arkham games.
I had just begun playing the games around that time, and I instantly fell in love with the Batman story arc.
Losing someone. A man with no powers who worked harder and smarter than everyone. And he wanted to do everything he could to help protect.
I related to that!
I had no background in this endeavor of making music, and I knew I had to work harder and smarter than everyone else to make a name for myself.
I had lost a lot at that time, and I wanted to use my experience to help others.
Plus, I had originally started in Hip-Hop, so the name “Rkham'' gave my music, I thought, a darker and more mystic feel to it.
That people would want to listen to me just for the name.
So I dropped the A from Arkham so that my stage name could start with the first letter of my real name, Ryan, and I adopted the “Rkham” persona!
From then up to now, the name has less of a Batman meaning to me, and more of a personal personification of who I have become.
Now people hear the name, “Rkham” and relate it more towards my Music than to Batman.
Rkham personifies the hard work I've put into making my dreams a reality, and to the incredible journey I've had in not only changing my life, but also in touching other people’s lives.
As my genres have adapted over the few years, I have truthfully considered a name change. But in the end, in my head, I hear people chanting “Rkham”, and I can’t wait to turn that visualization into a bigger reality.”
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
A: “One show that sticks with me was actually my first ever performance.
It was for a small event that involved camping and live music, mostly rock and metal music, and it took place, no joke, in what was probably someone's house/farm.
It was in the middle of a cornfield, and we didn’t even know if we were in the right place when we got there.
They had a huge stage setup, good sound, and they were ready for rock music, not conscious rap.
At the time of the show, I only had one song out, and a few unreleased tracks that were for my upcoming debut album, “Pen and Paper”.
I was dressed in a Batman gym cutoff, Batman flat-billed hat, and jeans.
(Did I mention it was summer)
Even though this was my first performance, oddly, I wasn’t scared.
I gave that performance, and everyone turned their heads in surprise to see who was performing on that stage.
I got the emo-goth kids jamming out!
That show gave me the confidence to keep going, and affirmed to me that I had something here with music!”
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
A: “I love performing in places where I can go into the audience while performing, and be able to interact with them and make them feel a part of the show!
I have so many places I would love to perform!
Honestly, I haven’t had as many live shows as some might think!
Thankfully though when I do have shows now, they’re paid for, as opposed to just starting out. I would definitely love to one day be able to play large festivals, such as Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, and big stadiums, such as the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, US.”
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
A: “Great question!
If I had to choose artists right now, Number 1 would be my favorite group, Imagine Dragons! Then acts such as The Weekend, Post Malone, Jon Bellion, Thomas Rhett, Khalid, and Halsey.
I’d also love to play with Jimmy Buffet, Zac Brown Band, Chris Stapleton, and Alan Jackson.
And if I could have any artists of all time, I’d choose Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Queen, Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and The News, and Elton John.”
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into creating music?
A: “For someone that is just getting into music, Here’s 5 vital pieces of advice:
Set your expectations and plans according to how far you truly want to go in Music!
- If you want to make it a career, it’s going to take a lot of sacrifice, especially of your time, energy, emotions, and money!
Don’t do things now that will hurt your career later, even in situations that might not happen!
- Don’t post anything that’s outlandish or hurtful that could come out to hurt your career later.
- Don’t buy or sample songs that are clear rip-offs of other songs; That will become an issue if your song becomes popular.
- Don't just sign to any bit of exposure that comes your way; You can end up damaging yourself by losing your music catalog and/or your music freedom.
Learn as much as you can on how everything works!
- How the Music Industry works.
- How Radio works.
- How Marketing works.
- How Music Production works.
- How Streaming works.
- How to find different people such as graphic designers, photographers, videographers, Professional Music Makers etc.
- The more you know how to do, the more valuable you are to yourself and others.
Carve your own path!
- You’re the first you, so don’t base your progress or story on someone else’s.
- Enjoy your journey.
- Enjoy your fans.
- Enjoy your music.
Treat your fans and audience how you would want to be treated!
- Your audience is everything!
- Treat them well, and you’ll cultivate a die-hard fanbase that will share and support you!
- Listen to their feedback.
- Respond to them and make them feel welcomed.
- Tailor your content to make your audience happy.
- Walk that fine line of making what you want to make, while making your fans happy.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
A: “The only thing I can think of saying is to “Enjoy the ride!”
It’s not always easy building a career in music.
It’s not always fun.
But it’s important to enjoy the small victories.”
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
A: “I have a song entitled “Doubt Me”, and it was released June 23, 2021.
It’s an indie-pop song, similar in style to “Circles” by Post Malone, but a bit more melancholy. For many reasons it means the most to me, for one being that it was the song that really fueled the changing of genres from Hip-Hop to Pop for me.
It showed me that that was the music I wanted to make!
Plus the song’s meaning hits home because I lived it.
The feeling of thinking you’re the issue in a toxic relationship after so much time has passed. You begin to forget things the farther time removes you from the situation, and you start to blame yourself for how bad things had gotten.
Convincing yourself that things were great when they weren’t, and that you were the issue, not the other person.
Doubt Me will forever have a very special place in my heart!
In many ways, “Hanging On”, is in spirit, related to “Doubt Me”, just presented in a different style.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
A: “Favorite to play, I would say different forms of Pop, Pop Rock, Classic Hits such as 60s, 70s, and 80s Music, or Acoustic Music.
All fit my vocal range very well, which then allows me to really dial in the performance aspect.
Most requested would probably be the same genres, honestly, with a bit more Country thrown in!
Doing covers on TikTok & Instagram allows me to connect with people and to find different music, which helps expand my vocal abilities. It makes me really happy when I’m able to take a favorite song of someone’s and turn it into my own, which makes them extremely happy!”
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
A: “My own life events, and the melting pot I call my music tastes inspire my music!
My creative process involves very little writing anymore.
Instead, I will listen to an instrumental, and allow that moment in time to forge an organic piece of art.
And if it takes too long to come up with an idea, I shelf the song and move on.
In the case of “Hanging On”, the melodies and the lyrics came to me right away.
I would listen to the beat over and over again to nail those ideas into my brain.
Then I came up with an art concept for the song, which was the 80s/Modern Pop Music, The Weekend inspired styling that you can see in the art and marketing for it.
Then I began the recording process, and through the few hours it took to record it, I allowed myself to feel the music and experiment with different sounds, and rhyming patterns.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
A: “Authenticity, Relatability, & Understanding.
The moods of my music vary, so whether happy or sad, I want people to be able to take away that I’m genuine, and that they can relate with the music they hear, and it hopefully helps them with whatever might be going on in their lives.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming Up?
A: “As of right now, I will be pushing “Hanging On” as much as possible over the coming months to expand my audience and expand the reach of the song.
I’ll be releasing remixes of the song, whether Publicly or on my Patreon, as well as a Music Video TBD.
Listen to Rkham’s latest single ‘Haning On’