Think of: Bon Iver combined with a folk version of Frank Ocean, except with more 808s.
What caught our eye: Ryan’s music is nearly impossible to nail down. Is it folk? Indie? Alternative? All of the above? Can’t say, but one thing is for sure — his voice absolutely drips with emotion. Plus, his obvious and deep appreciation for the region (a single he released this month, along with an accompanying music video, is called “To Live and Die in New England”) is a nice bonus.
Light bulb moments: Growing up in a hard-working household south of Boston, Ryan didn’t have any family members to introduce him to music. But he stumbled upon an old keyboard one day and started messing around with it. “After that, I played it every day and self-taught myself,” he says. “Now, I can play piano, guitar, drums, and bass.” The former warehouse worker only realized he wanted to make a life out of music when he went public with his passion. “Right when I released my first song, I posted it on Facebook, and every single person who commented was like, ‘Oh wow, this is actually really dope,’ ” he says. “It got around, and when I ran into people they would tell me how awesome the music sounded. That’s when I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do something with this.’ ”
Biggest thrill: Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist has more than 2 million followers. So when Ryan saw that his single “Mean It” had been included, he was over the moon. “All I’ve wanted was the exposure, for people to hear my music and let them decide for themselves. When I saw that it was up on that playlist, I was like, ‘Oh wow, that’s so sick.’ ”
Biggest surprise: “This whole album [“Don’t Panic”] that’s coming out is kind of based on a surprise, actually. I had signed a deal, and I thought I was finally on the track to where I wanted to be as a musician. Then I ended up moving out to California, and one bad thing turned into another and I actually ended up living in my car for a year. I would say my album comes half from that and half from coming back home and realizing how much I missed it and how much of a part of me it was.”
Inspired by: “Past experiences and struggles I’ve had growing up, and then turning those into bigger things.”
Aspires to: In terms of production, Ryan’s role model is Kanye West. “I love how he turned producing into full artistry,” he says. But in terms of songwriting and sound, he looks up to (and draws from) Blink-182 and Coldplay.
For good luck: “All my good luck mementos are tattooed on me, kind of like the movie ‘Memento,’ ” he says, laughing. “I really believe in signs from the universe, and when something recurring keeps popping up in my life, I end up tattooing it onto my body. I have the number 307 tattooed on me, because any time I’m facing something where I’m troubled or excited, I look at the clock and it feels like it’s always 3:07. Like . . . on the way here to do this interview . . . 307 was on the car in front of me.”
What people should know: “Just that I stay true to myself, stay open-minded, and stay true to my roots. My entire career is a testament to the people and places where I grew up.”
Coming soon: His debut album, “Don’t Panic,” comes out on June 23, and he plans to play locally as much as he can this summer before a tour in the fall.
Alex FrandsenAlex Frandsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.