Lily Ryder: 100 Mini Lives

What was your first music exposure like?

LR:  My dad was a DJ at our local radio station in Santa Barbara.  I have been in the music scene of Santa Barbara since I was little.  I started writing poems and short stories first and the song writing came after I got a guitar for my 13th birthday.  I taught myself some chords and that’s when I first started writing songs, but music has always been a big part of my life.  

How would you describe the Santa Barbara music scene?

LR:  Not existent almost, very small and local.  Everyone is a parent or works at the local grocery store, very small town vibe.  There is the Santa Barbara Bowl which is an iconic venue which is amazing.  There is still stuff, but on a very small scale.  

Were you able to collaborate with people or was it more solo?

LR:  I started on my own, but the cool thing about Santa Barbara is that it is a hotbed of young creative people.  There were a ton of opportunities for collaboration in high school.  Those collaborations allowed for my EP to happen.  I met my co-collaborator in junior High School and have been doing music together pretty much our whole lives.

As someone who also writes poetry, do you write the lyrics first or the instruments?

LR:  It is interesting because I never start with lyrics.  It is hard for me to start with a concept.  I start with the guitar and I’ll hear a melody and sing words that sound cool and it will take shape from there.

What was your experience like going from the Santa Barbara music scene to the New York music scene?

LR:  Aside from scale, there is a lot more variety.  There are a lot of underground scenes in New York city.  Here there are offshoots and smaller more niches vibes.  It is much easier to find your place for people who don’t fit into the stadium rock vibe.

Were you still able to explore different music genres growing up?

LR:  Absolutely.  My dad was very into classic rock and alt-rock, my mom is into country.  I definitely had a good sampling of genres.

So what was in the inspiration for your EP, Movement Four that came out?

LR:  This EP is a collection of songs that I’ve written over the past year and a half, both in Santa Barbara and in New York City.  The collection of songs are about a period in my life that I like to refer to as the fourth movement of my life, the title of the EP.  It is easier for me to organize my life into big movements where there are fundamental shifts and growth.   This project is me paying homage to this period of my life and moving forward with a really shitty part of my life.

Are you referring to quarantine as the shitty part to grow from?

LR:  This was pre-quarantine, physically making it was in quarantine.  I had a really difficult transition moving from Santa Barbara to college, so dealing with trying to figure out how to exist here.

Was it culture shock?

LR:  Yeah it was culture shock, home sickness, it was the energy difference.  I had a hard time adjusting to everything being constantly going.  I lived on Union Square last year so I was in the thick of it, it was crazy not good for my brain.  Feeling constantly overheating and overworked and not being with my family whom I really close with was hard.  

Was being able to collaborate with a childhood friend able to ground your music in a way that it wouldn't have been if you were solo?

LR:  Definitely.  He understands me sometimes more than I understand myself.  If I wasn’t able to articulate something, he was still able to understand it and was like, “I got you”.  It was nice to have someone that knows you inside and out.  

I feel like it might be a little scary to have someone know you almost better than you know yourself.  

LR:  Yeah you have to be willing to open yourself up to it.  I haven’t had that in a musical collaboration, I wasn’t able to bullshit.  

He was keeping you honest.

LR:  Totally.

Did the music collaboration take your friendship to another place because music is such an emotional place.

LR:  We spent hundreds of hours locked in a tiny room together and that made our friendship stronger.  We are both so proud of this and it gave our quarantine some meaning which we are grateful for.  It was really nice to have someone be part of the process who is super invested in you as well the end result.  

What would you describe as the first three movements of your life?

LR:  I don’t have a rigid schedule, but the first movement was moving through elementary school into the first half of junior high.  There was another shift there and then there was a shift going into high school.  Then going to college, I am now more than halfway done with college and I feel there is another shift there.  Just in general blocks of time where I see myself as different people retrospectively,

Do you think that people live all these mini lives and in the end we are just a culmination of all the different lives we led?

LR:  100%.  I think that is what makes art so interesting and what makes artist’s evolutions so interesting.  We get to see how as these people grow up and change how that influences and changes their art.  For art to be fresh you have to lean into those scary and life changing events.  

How do you see your music evolving?

LR:  I feel like constantly.  It is always changing style ways and thematically.  I am constantly writing, but I think things take shape in the production stage.  I don’t know how exactly it will evolve, but I’m counting on it.  

How do you feel about artists’ wanting to have a very specific style that they always go back to.

LR:  There are pros and cons.  I definitely have a style, but I also want to give myself license to do other things too.  I also see the benefit of having blinders on and following one direction .

Do you see yourself still working with your friend in the future or was just for the specific project.  Do you think you need to work with someone else in order to evolve and change your music?

LR:  I want to collaborate with more people, but I do think that Chris’ brain and his contributions are super valuable.  I want to bring in more people and I didn’t even plan on working with him on this.

Do you find it easy to collaborate with people in New York?

LR:  Yes and even within NYU the collaborations are so cool and endless.  I think that collaboration is one of the great benefits of going to art school.  I’m even working on things now that I want to put out next year.  I actually applied to school as a music journalism major.  I did journalism in high school, I’ve always been a writer.  I love writing about music.  I feel like having an appreciation for music and being able to articulate that goes hand in hand with being able to make the music you want.  Being able to understand how the music you love is made is really cool for you own.

Are there certain bands you get more inspiration from?

LR:  Joni Mitchell,  Phoebe Bridges are some of my favorites and  I love Paul Simon as a lyricist.  I like to think I pull from everywhere, but I have a very obvious top bracket of influences.

The people you mentioned have more of a following from people now who are music enthusiasts and not really mainstream.  Do you see that style circling back into the mainstream?

LR:  Yeah it is definitely circular, I hope so.  I think the tone downed the acoustic vibe coming back.  As a product of the time we are in, I think the singer/songwriter movement is circling around again.  Everything is circular.    

What do you think the next trends in music are going to be?

LR:  I think that there is going to be a big boom in local venues.  Musicians that are putting music out now are going to go more for local scenes because I think that is what is going to open up first.  I think that will be really cool and people really want to see live shows again.  I do think also that the livestreams are still gonna continue to happen.  

As a fan it would be cool to be able to see the full trajectory of someone’ career and be able to say you were there at the beginning.  Do you feel like you always need to be constantly creating since there is so much out there?

LR:  I think that is something that is really easy to fall into.  For me I haven’t felt that pressure because I waited so long to put things out to begin with.  I’m not trying to break into the pop world and I think that it's more of the mindset of trying to get onto the charts.  Right now I’m trying to take advantage of the time and try to make the best of it.  

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