Interview with Ryan Hays
Ryan Hays pursuit of music began in a different way than most. At the age of 8, he began to develop a stutter which affected every sense of his being. This major change would begin to mold him, and his mind leading him to discover his musical talents. Ryan has performed in Woodstock, London, in Paris at the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral, and places such as Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ryan also managed to serve a total of 8 years in the United States Army. Now fully pursuing his music, Ryan has written and produced multiple songs including his two first solo singles, "I'm coming Home", and his debut album titled "Beautiful Stranger" which was released May 14th on all streaming platforms. His music truly can not be put into one genre, but instead is simply a combination of stories that will take you on a musical journey of reflection and emotion.
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
This whole journey starts with my mother and father who both were the hardest workers I know. My mom had me and my sister young so she had to drop the idea of college and hustle to provide. She started her own house cleaning business and through many trials including surviving cancer twice, she showed me that you can do anything you put your mind to without excuses. My father was a truck driver and wasn't home much but taught me the value of providing for the ones you love no matter what it takes. They both taught me that imperfections are the exact things that make you human and honest, which I'd soon find out would become more a part of my world then I even knew. I always felt through watching them that I wanted more for myself and my family as a whole, I just didn't know what would get me there till my whole world changed. At the age of 8 due to things that were happening in my life at the time I began to stutter. As time went it grew worse and worse, and fast forward through a lot of mental battles I found music. One voice had to become imperfect so I could find my other voice and what I had always viewed as a curse became the exact thing that saved me and gave me that "something more" I never knew I had. Music became my way of expressing myself, growing my self confidence, and later in life to inspire others who share my story. If I hadn't found music I truly believe I would have fallen into a depression and truly don't have an answer for that. I did join the Army after college and did my run in the reserves but even in the army I was writing songs for some of the guys I was with so it's simply what I truly believe I was put on this earth to do.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love spending time with family and also reflective time with myself. My biggest influence on my creativity I'd have to say would just be my own thoughts, emotions, or even things I witness from other people when I'm out. Music and lyrics have sorta always just come to me in the way a recipe would come to a chef.
How long has music been your career?
I have been singing since I was about 9 or 10 but my true career in music only began to take off not that long ago in the past few years.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Currently I live in NYC but my music influence is from growing up in the countryside of Connecticut where I grew up, in a place where everyone knew everyone. I grew up around just as much love and care as I did drama. Small towns have that sorta dynamic but I loved it and it gave me the space to feel all my emotions without distraction. That allowed my words and music to reflect in absolute truth how I was feeling in those moments.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
As a solo artist I have only just begun to perform live but truly being on stage is where I feel most at home. I have been blessed to perform with an amazing group of musicians and I can only imagine that even at a "rough show" I'd feel blessed knowing that this is what I do for a living. Plus like any home sometimes there is joy and sometimes there is a little drama but home is always where the heart is and mine is in the music.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Well there are arenas and venues all over the country I would love to play at including of course Madison Square Garden. I can't say I have one though particularly that stands out amongst the rest. Anywhere I get to share my music with a crowd and you can count me in.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
This list could be rather long lol BUT if we are talking country then I'd love to have the likes of Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Kane Brown or Florida Georgia Line. If we are talking mainstream pop artists, then One Republic would take the number one spot in my head. However I'd have artists such as Bruno Mars, Black Eyed Peas, Charlie Puth, or even Adele as I love all they're styles and can relate to each one's styles musically.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
It's simple, "If you want to truly get into music on a certain level then you will need to give everything you have and possibly sacrifice even more so that others can live through your work". It is almost cliche to say but music is a universal language and can truly even save someone's life. I would also tell someone to be honest about what they are writing because the best songs in the world are the ones that come from an honest place within you and will remain timeless. At the end of the day music is a gift and if it is your gift and you want to share it with the world then prepare to leap blindly into the most exciting and rewarding journey.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Be true to who you are and don't be afraid of your imperfections for they are what will propel you into the lights and out of the shadows.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
My new song "The Prayer" which is releasing on July 15th, I wrote about my feelings in dealing with the passing of my father before he could see any of my success. This song it's truly the story of not only what I believe and wish he could have seen, but also the hope I believe we all battle with seeing sometimes in our lives. This song has helped me heal and to me it's a song that I expect will reach into the hearts of people who hear it and I can only hope to give them a sense of peace and hope as well.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Off my album Beautiful Stranger I have to say "Maybe" and "Keep You Forever" are my favorite to play live as of now. The most requested though are usually "Maybe" and "Im Coming Home"
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
My creative process is not having a process at all. I don't write just to write like a machine, but instead the lyrics to a song sorta just come to me in the most unplanned times. I will just be somewhere and I'll hear a melody or some lyrics and sing them into my recorder on my phone. There are so many ideas I haven't even brought to life yet in those recordings simply because the feeling hasn't hit me to give it what it deserves yet. Life inspires me to write and all the emotions we deal with within our lives. Music allows me to sometimes express emotions of which I have or had a hard time expressing.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I truly just want to inspire people through my lyrics. I won't speak on others' music but for me I'd like to think I write in a way where no matter your age, you can relate to what you are hearing. I don't write for a moment or a generation, but instead I try to write music that will inspire and help people grow or maybe even look at some moments in their own lives differently. I don't think I am alone when I say timeless music is hard to come by these days so I try to write music that will last and people will be able to listen to years from now with the same effect regardless of how the culture may shift.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
I believe everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. When I am working with even the guys that play for me I understand that even I can't always see every creative possibility. You have to learn to trust the creative minds of others because more times than not if you allow yourself to make space for the creativity of others, the outcome is usually far beyond what you could have ever seen yourself. The only way to elevate IS to collaborate and I believe there is no other way to succeed in this business.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My plans are to have a national tour booked in one capacity or another in the next year, I am currently working on my second album which will be released next year, and just continuing to do what I love and work with other brilliant musical minds in the process. I'm a contestant in the Open Mic competition being put on by Audacy and so voting starts on the 11th and looking for fan's support to get me on that stage as the opening act for the Hollywood Bowl in LA. Also I am releasing my new single "The Prayer" on all platforms July 15th as well. I have shows coming up in NYC through September that can be found through my website at www.ryanhaysmusic.com as well.