On The Loop: Amber Ryann - Local Wolves

Amber Ryann by Alex Justice

We chatted with LA-based artist and producer, Amber Ryann on the impact of the internet and social media in the music industry and showcasing musicians on her platform, Underrated Artist Season.

Amber Ryann by Alex Justice

Musicians intrigue me because, like painters, they make artwork, yet their methods for achieving the right product vary from one artist to the next. Please indulge me in your creative process and how you go about producing a song. 

AMBER RYANN: Usually the start of any track begins with me and guitar or me thinking of a melody idea randomly and recording it on a voice memo with my phone. I then take those ideas to my studio and start to build from there. I always have to write to very stripped down instrumentals without percussion so I don’t allow percussive elements to influence my cadence. From there I build out a rough demo with instrumentation and then take it to my co-producer Zach Golden to help finish the track. From there I take the executive chair and really get to guide the finished project over remote zoom sessions with him. Zach has had a huge part in helping me develop my sound over the years, we are both musicians and work similarly in terms of leading with the emotions and feeling of a track rather than intentionally trying to achieve a particular sound.

What has been an interesting aspect of showcasing other musicians on your platform, Underrated Artist Season

AR: The most interesting aspect is definitely the demand and need for a platform like this. I feel like most artists are reluctant to bring other artists up with them in a sense because they are afraid that might overshadow their own trajectory or taint their brand. I’ve come to find it’s only made my brand as an artist more impactful. I act as the change I want to see in this industry, that starts with me and grows with building community. I realized that very early on in my career.

What impact do you think the internet and social media have had on the music industry? 

AR: I think it has truly shown that music listeners are the true tastemakers and regardless of the industry believing they know what’s next up, no one can determine what listeners find to be valuable. I think listenership has been put on the back burner most days as we are just trying to push numbers. It is what it is but I am seeing now as we are amongst a generation that is more aware, they are seeking more from the art they consume.

What role did music play in your childhood? When did you begin to practice? 

AR: Music played the role of solace and gave me a sense of purpose and understanding of the world. I was a loner kid, I didn’t really understand how I didn’t fit in much but once I discovered my love for music that was the only way I was able to make peace with that. I remember I used to come home and play guitar and write songs for hours upon hours a day completely disregarding my homework because I knew even if I flunked out of school I was going to find a way to be successful in music. I began writing, practicing and recording at the age of 10, I even still have a couple of demos I burned to some CD’s and cassette tapes.

Would you say your musical taste has evolved over time?

AR: I would say it’s evolved in the sense of broadening my taste and what I like to listen to. I am open to listening and consuming all different genres and styles and that’s made me a more versatile artist over the years.  

What do you take from listening to music as opposed to creating/producing it?

AR: It’s hard for me to listen to music without dissecting every little creative decision in a technical way but I like to just observe and get inspired by the music I listen to. Listening to music helps inspire the emotions and impactful moments I wish to recreate within my own music. There’s some music I am able to thoroughly enjoy but most times I am overanalyzing.

Amber Ryann by Alex Justice

What would you alter about the music industry if you could? 

AR: I would do what I am doing right now, pulling inspiration and shedding light on the music of the future which I consider to be the underground. Almost all the music we “discover” is music that is curated for us by biased curators and tastemakers with little regard to what’s happening beyond the surface. There are still a lot of great industry leaders, tastemakers, labels, A&R’s, etc., out there but I think what peaks industry interest most are vanity metrics and analytics that inevitably drive creative decisions. The industry needs to listen to music listeners, the actual consumers of music and art, then create a business model that feels more community driven and inclusive. That’s my opinion and most may not agree with it, guess we will see if my plan works out!

What impact has being a member of the LGBTQ+ community has on your music? 

AR: It’s given me more of a responsibility in terms of providing representation not only in my music but my platform. People often ask why it’s always “so important” to mention that I am black and I am queer, well because quite frankly we aren’t just a blip on a screen. There is not enough representation in the industry and when there is it’s in tiny doses or a form of misrepresentation all together so innately I feel a responsibility to remain visible.

What do you want listeners to remember after listening to your music? 

AR: Sounds cheesy but I want them to remember we are all but a mere blip of existence in the universe and no one is larger than life itself. They aren’t alone in tribulation, we are more of the same than we are different. I’ve gone through some moments I’m sure they can relate to and I just always hope when they are listening they find something to connect with.

So you came up with the concept of Underrated Artist Season, which has now grown into a movement that promotes new and under-appreciated musicians on social media. It’s refreshing to see music in a new light, and I’m sure you hear plenty of great songs performed by great musicians. Have you ever considered teaming up with some musicians you’ve stumbled across on UAS? Does it inspire your own music in a way? 

AR: Underrated Artist Season although it’s very new has changed my life and perspective in many ways. Of course discovering so many new artists week after week has inspired and impacted my creativity deeply. It’s also opened me up to just how important community driven spaces are and that’s exactly what this movement has become. At first I really thought it was just going to be a whole heap of artist’s thirsty for some clout, no offense. I thought maybe we’d grow a cute little playlist where we all could support each other every now and then and call it a day but very early on I felt nothing but gratitude from these artists for providing such opportunity followed by this deep hunger for new innovative music from the music listeners. I’ve teamed up with some of the artists/supporters I’ve discovered on the platform such as Lord Kev, Kevespeakstruth, Rudy C. Williams, and Rambo just to name a few. I also intend to expand the team and collaborate with these artists and contributors in much more impactful ways as we continue to grow and move forward. 

Watch Amber’s newest single, “Liquid Courage” out now.

Connect with Amber: Twitter / Instagram / Tiktok

Interview by Michelle Ledesma / Intro by Sophia Khom

Photography by Alex Justice

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