Primary Instrument: Guitar
Five notes into I'd Follow You, the opening song on Andrew Ryan’s sophomore Divulge Records release Waiting for Paris--EP, Andrew’s voice melts into his soulful, beautiful guitar playing and his lyrics are just as heartfelt and inviting as ever.
It’s not at all what a new listener might expect if you know just a little bit about Andrew’s background. On the surface, his story may seem like it was lifted out of some glam metal or punk rock biography: Young guy obsessed with music leaves conservative upbringing in small town America for the gritty streets of California to pay his dues and make a living as a musician.
That is exactly what Andrew Ryan has done, but his music--an intoxicating blend of pop, jazz and old school crooner sensibilities--couldn’t be further from any of the modern musical genres California is known for. Andrew’s guitar playing is pure and clean without a distortion pedal or fuzz box anywhere on the record, and his voice…when Andrew sings, his voice is full of beauty and simplicity.
“My music tells a story and leaves listeners with an overall good feeling,” Andrew says. “I want people to remember my music after hearing it like they would remember a happy memory.”
A happy memory is exactly what inspired Andrew to follow his musical dreams. The son of a Baptist pastor, Andrew’s childhood was devoid of MTV and rock, rap or pop music on the radio. Instead, Andrew grew up listening to artists on the softer, “safer side” of music like James Taylor, Big Band Jazz, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Andrew’s mother started him playing piano and singing in church very early on, and at seven years old, Andrew admits that he “kind of stole” his father’s guitar and began teaching himself how to play.
His first musical composition was a love song for a neighbor girl. Although he can’t remember a thing about the song, Andrew does remember that the girl was definitely into it. He learned quickly that music impressed the girls. Nearly twenty years later, he’s still writing and singing songs, and many of his compositions still encompass the ideology of love.
“They’re deeper and more mature now, the songs I write,” he says. “My music has always been about putting my emotions into melody and lyrics. Even when I was young, I would put exactly what I was feeling into the music I was creating. Today there’s no difference, other than I am experiencing different things in life and I have a different perspective now than I did then.”
In junior high, Andrew decided to take his playing to a new level and enrolled in a guitar class for some formal training. This is where he discovered a true passion for jazz guitar which is evident with each song he creates. Each of Andrew’s tunes have a faint yet distinct jazz sound with softer vocals and lyrics focused on emotions and love. Once he hit high school, Andrew started to break away from his strict roots which is when he discovered a universe of rock, blues and other secular musical genres--a discovery he says was truly illuminating and amazing. Of all the new genres he was soaking in, blues became his favorite but he was also always drawn back to Big Band music, jazz and crooner tunes. Andrew’s newfound affinity of blues along with the familiar sounds of jazz shaped his personal writing, singing, and performing styles which is still apparent today.
Andrew formed a band in high school, which later broke up when all the members left for college. On his own at college in Las Vegas, Andrew played the coffee house and lounge circuit. It was then that Divulge Records approached Andrew to do a record. Andrew’s first album--Summer & Fall --was recorded in Nashville in 2007, which led to live promo performances on radio stations. The disc drew the attention of producers from the legendary NPR program “A Prairie Home Companion,” and Andrew was invited to perform live on the show. A high profile gig at Sun Valley Lodge followed, along with more performances for NPR on various shows.
Andrew moved to California after the release of Summer & Fall where he wrote and recorded a set of songs to be included on his forthcoming EP--Waiting for Paris. In preparation for his upcoming EP release, he has begun playing key venues in Laguna and Hollywood. His goal with each live performance, is to win over the audience and entice listeners to forget their cares and worries and simply get lost in the music.
Music is unquestionably a part of my soul and I really want people to connect with my writing and understand the feeling and meaning behind the songs. I want to ignite an array of emotions and memories for listeners with each and every song I create.