Music was a big part of Ryan’s life from as early as he could remember. His parents, who met backpacking in Morocco, both had some involvement with music. Living in the UK before their only child was born, Ryan’s father was a songwriter with some respectable achievement and his mother often did backing vocals at live gigs. By the time Ryan was born, they moved stateside, and while Ryan can remember waking up on weekends to the melodies of The Beatles and Bob Dylan, his heart lay elsewhere. “I have to say that as a kid, I didn’t have a lot of interest in music; I loved to play soccer. That’s where most of my focus was – though I do remember buying the cassingle of “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors!”
While he clearly preferred – and excelled – at sports, Ryan spent many weekends with his friend Keshav Singh – who is now having success in the UK as part of the duo JusNow – making beats on Singh’s electronic keyboard. As much fun as they had, it wasn’t enough to turn Ryan’s head away from soccer, and after a year at Boston University, Ryan had the opportunity to play for OmniWorld, a professional football (soccer) team outside of Amsterdam. “I didn’t know it at the time, but playing soccer, traveling, being in front of fans who could be really tough, was all perfect training for what I wanted to do next, which I quickly realized was music.”
An early adopter on MySpace, Ryan quietly started composing music on his own, posting it online, even while living abroad, and getting positive responses. “I had complete confidence in writing by myself since playing soccer in front of so many people gave me the ability to feel secure. I bought a keyboard, making my own instrumentals, and then started to put vocals on top of them.” This caught the attention of a friend who had started an independent label in Pittsburgh, who then invited Ryan down to showcase some of his songs. After some well-received live performances, Ryan came back to Florida, where his family had re-located, at the request of Studio Center Miami. The people at the Studio felt Ryan’s compositions had some real potential and wanted to see what he could do once he put all his incredible focus on music. Ryan, who had learned through his athletic career, that the more you do something, the better you get at it, spent a full year working with vocal coach Anita Wilson and choreographer Athena Cameron before feeling like he was ready to take the next step toward composing an album’s worth of songs for The Stranger in Me.
Though Ryan is the driving force as both songwriter and composer, he decided to co-write with a few different songwriters, most significantly Steven D. After writing twenty or more songs, which Ryan has recently paired down to ten or twelve for the upcoming album, he was fortunate enough to catch the attention of Grammy winning Producer Zach Ziskin. He’s also begun to work with 4-time Grammy Award winning Engineer/Producer Jimmy Douglass (Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones, Sean Paul, Kanye West and more) on future projects. “This is really a dream come true. I can’t wait to get to the Studio every day, and it’s such an incredible experience. The first time I worked with Jimmy he had me do vocal warm-ups for three hours! It has been a great opportunity for me to absorb more about making music than I could have ever anticipated.”
While words have always come easily to Ryan (he was a journalism Major in college and one several poetry awards in High School), he knows he is exercising a different muscle with songwriting. “Songwriting is a whole different beast. It takes life experience, in my opinion, to write a good song. I don’t think you can fake that. I will write a song 10 times over and often it still isn’t good enough yet. Songwriting is about pouring your soul out on the paper, and it’s hard to go to that place. It is something you have to work at. I have been working at it long enough that I feel like I am in a good place with being able to convey my feelings musically.”
He has much to be proud of on 'What If', due out in early 2014. While he can’t choose a favorite, there are several songs that have strong meaning to him such as “What Ifs & Broken Promises.” Says Ryan, “That song really came together fast. I wrote the bridge and chorus, and Steven D. wrote the verse. I really love this track and think people will gravitate toward it.” Another memorable songwriting journey for him came from “Without Hope,” based on a friend of Ryan’s who grew up in an abusive household. The emotional chorus – “when you step to the edge of the light/to the darkness of the unknown/when you have no choice but to fight/you learn to fly where nobody’s ever flown” gives way to a song that’s ultimately about hope and being able to leave the past behind. Another strong track is the beautiful “A Miracle My Love,” a very personal song for Ryan: “This is a love song about some one who comes along and turns your life around. You may have thought you had nothing going for you, you meet this person, and it becomes a miracle to your life. My mind set has been totally turned around by the right person.”
Throughout his entire songwriting process, Ryan’s goal was always one thing – to create songs that people could relate to. “I really want people who listen to my album to relate to it, as if they’ve been through it themselves. I want them to know I’ve been there too – and get lost in my stories. To me, music is life set to instrumentation. There is no greater gift than to be able to take the culmination of your life’s stories and set them to music.”
Download: Ryan Aderrey