Keep an eye on… with Ryan Campos (including interview and free download of a new song)
Foster, United States
As soon as you create your first somewhat modest music blog, you are bombarded by follows and messages from young bands and musicians, filled with links where you can check out their music and like their pages. Some you will like, write about and post their songs, some you won’t, and some you won’t even have time to hear at all. In this day and age of music being distributed in new ways on the Internet and fed by the power of dozens of social networking sites, it has become very easy to find music you would never have been able to hear before. With the mainstream full of shallow and mediocre music, it is a real pleasure to discover new and undiscovered music through these platforms. One of these hidden gems is Ryan Campos. A very modest young American guy, who didn’t shove his music down my throat like some, and just sent a simple cute sentence thanking me for posting a few of his songs. The music intrigued me. I found it interesting at first, somewhat different and therefore refreshing. But his Tumblr page had no other links and only a vague pixelated profile picture of some sort of computer icon. It was like a mystery. So I started my journey to discover more of Ryan‘s art, and it was like a game, where passing levels gained me access to more and more links and info. This is one extremely talented man, whose quality of music and the amount of modesty would find it hard for his music to be spotted and recognized properly. I wanted to do something to get him heard as I thought it would be a real shame for the world not to hear these beautiful sounds. Considering Ryan’s laconic ways, I had to ask a lot of questions to find out what is behind this little genius.
Looking at Ryan‘s Soundcloud page, you only find 6 songs. If you go to Tumblr, you will find a lot more, posted over the last 2 years. Sound Shifter, Electric Words And Feelings and a song probably titled by the day it was recorded, 12.25.10 (click to hear), reminded me of Air, and I liked them instantly due to the use of Vocoder, but the more I heard, the more amazed I was by the variation in sound.
Ryan calls his music electronic/experimental, but you will also find simple but stunning piano pieces and very atmospheric instrumentals. I would still desscribe the overal sound as minimal, but that doesn’t lessen the impact. I found Stem to be very hypnotic and dreamy, with the pulsating sound throughout and Ryan‘s gorgeous soft vocal adding something more to it. It was and still probably is my favourite one.
Among his work there are also songs heavier on vocals, with a more traditional song structure. Most of them deal with the topic of love, the struggles and feelings we have all experienced. Among them are songs like Lover and Calling You, certainly more accesible and forward than others.
Lover is more passionate, whereas Calling You, reminiscent of Clinic, expresses the desire in a more sexual and self-confident way.
When asking Ryan about his studies, he mentioned sound design, while composing is something he does in his free time. Unfamiliar with the term and wanting to know what it is exactly, he replied sound design was “pretty complicated… pretty much the math behind sound and recording“. I didn’t ask for any equations, but the electronic music he is making made a lot more sense. Experimenting with sounds and recording of his voice shows that he is a good student. WSID (demo) is a song where we can observe some of this math through his very interesting vocals. On top of the repetitive (but in no way boring) “What should I do?” you get Ryan‘s panting voice (quite sexy), some great added vocals towards the end and whatnot. Even though I found this song the least interesting at the first listen, I am loving it now.
A lot of Ryan‘s work is actually music for soundtracks. It took me a few days of correspondence to find out he has worked on 6, mostly short films. That’s pretty amazing for a 21-year old who does music as a hobby, and something one should brag about, especially because the music he is making for films is a whole new territoryfor a musician to explore. Life is one of those songs, and it appeared in the short film Still Life. It is really gorgeous, and a favourite of Ryan‘s. The violin-like sounds were created using some vintage synth sounds. The soundtracks Ryan works on are for local projects, and you can see the full list here. I hope I get the chance to see all of them, as I really want to see how his music appears surrounded by images. Talking about violins, I should also mention some other classical work, like the two simple but emotional piano songs (yes, he plays piano, which I told him I want to have to badly), Fall and Sierra. Overall, I would describe his music as very atmospheric, melancholic, occasionally dark, and hypnotising. It may sound scary to someone, but there is still so much beauty and a feeling of home in them. And it makes for a perfect soundtrack for studying, drawing or just meddling with things at home. It’s not overbearing, but very relaxing. Take for example Morbid Sun. This song has an Oriental feel to it, whereas I would describe 5.2.12 (among my favourites) as a train going through a tunnel, while there is Hare Krishna follower surrounded by a bunch of his followers immersed in repetative, almost hypnotising mantra-like sounds. It’s a scene I would like to experience.
You’d think now, this man is good. He can do a lot of different things. But then you get to know that last year he also worked on a side project with a female musician, making such gorgeous soft music, a lot more poppy than his solo stuff. You can hear and download for free 3 of their songs here. The project is called Arcade Nylon, and I really wish they did more together.
Read the interview I did with Ryan Campos and find out even more.
Origin of Noise: How long have you been making music?
Ryan: Ever sense I was a kid, I would always have to be doing something creative with music. I jumped from instrument to instrument at a very young age, and always found myself creating emotionally driven sounds. I was born into this.
Origin of Noise: You seem to have quite a lot of “job titles”, from music to film. Is it all a hobby or did you actually have any schooling done in those fields?
Ryan: I am currently enrolled in a college located in Rhode Island, studying audio/video production. This will be my forth year in school, and I have no idea where I would be right now without it. New England Institute of Technology has provided me with endless work opportunities within videography, sound design, and much much more.
Origin of Noise: Also, it says on your Soundcloud page that „everything there is yours“. I suppose also the vocal in some of the songs (which is gorgeous, by the way)?
Ryan: I definitely prefer my instrumental work over my lyrical stuff, but yes… it’s me. I have always done this on my own, and will remain to do so. I absolutely love collaborations, and would love to have something like a “band” someday, but my sound is very personal to me, and I work alone.
Origin of Noise: What are your musical influences?
Ryan: Chelsea Wolfe, Autolux, and Calla, to name a few, have always left an interesting impact on me. I have also been finding a lot of Lana Del Rey‘s material very inspiring.
Origin of Noise: What else do you draw your inspiration from?
Ryan: I try my hardest to transfer emotions and feelings into sound, so I would have to say I draw art out of just everyday occurrences. Human emotion is my inspiration.
Origin of Noise: What are you working on at the moment? What’s music scene like where you live and how does your music fit in there?
Ryan: At the moment I am working on a lot of different types of film scoring, and game OST’s. It is working out well, and has become just another outlet for my sound. As far as the “music scene” in Rhode Island goes, I would have to say that it is full of incompetents. With today’s day and age we are able to find and create our own “scene” with modern technology. It all depends on the genre, but places like Tumblr and Soundcloud have truly showed me that I am not alone, and that a community with similar interests does in fact exist.
Origin of Noise: If you could choose, who would you collaborate with?
Ryan: I am completely open to any form of collaborations. A side project of mine (Arcade Nylon) was actually a great collaboration experience for me. I worked with “CoMa” via the internet, and would send sessions back and forth with her. We live on opposite ends of the world, have never met in person, and were able to create something beautiful together. Isn’t the future great?
Origin of Noise: You mentioned working on soundtracks. Tell me more about that. What kind of a film or what director would you like to do a score for?
Ryan: I work on a lot of local film stuff, and plan on getting more into that field when I am finished with college. My most recent project is a horror/thriller film, and I have done my best to fill it with my electronic absurdity.
Origin of Noise: What are your lyrics about?
Ryan: It all varies… I write from the knowledge and understanding that I gain throughout personal experiences. When there are words in my songs, that just means the sound needed a little more to get the feeling across.
Origin of Noise: What do you find easier, making music or writing lyrics?
Ryan: For me, creating sound comes out more natural than writing. I would say one out of every ten songs that I make ends up with lyrics. The rest are all left instrumental.
Origin of Noise: What are you live shows like?
Ryan: The shows that I have played live have been very intimate. No more than 100 people, and very atmospheric.
Origin of Noise: Are you alone on stage messing with your instruments, or more incospicuous, like a DJ?
Ryan: When on stage, I am usually on the floor surrounded by synthesizers. Shows I have played have not been much to dance too, but acted more as an experience of sound and feeling.
Origin of Noise: Are you signed to any label?
Ryan: Currently no… I produce myself.
Origin of Noise: Do you plan to?
Ryan: It would not be out of the question, but I never really thought about it before.
Origin of Noise: Do you show your music to your friends and family?
Ryan: Some yes.. but I keep my music life separate from my social life. 90% of my listeners are on the Internet.
Origin of Noise: What do you want to come across through your music – is there a message, a feeling you want to share or is it just a form of therapy/expression?
Ryan: I use my sounds as a form of escape, and it just so happens that I can share that with other people. I am not trying to get any kind of message across, and I am clearly no John Lennon, but I am in fact supporting a type of sound that I think deserves a little more attention.
And finally, the latest offering by Ryan Campos, On Fire. You can hear it for the first time here. The song keeps the unhappy love theme, but this is the first time Ryan‘s vocals are at the forefront, making it sound a lot more traditional. The pain and passion in the voice, the sounds – all of this makes it my favourite song now. I didn’t know Ryan could sing that well. With so much diversity in his music, I am so excited to hear more and see where Ryan will take us next. I feel privileged to be the first person to hear and share this song. You can download it for free here and enjoy!