by Erinn Fortson
Steve Ryan is as jovial as his music during our telephone conversation. I can almost hear him smiling on the other end of the line when he responds to my questions. I ask him how he remains positive in his music when often times it is so easy to dwell on the negative. “I think that’s a reflection of my personality,” says Ryan. “It’s really about just speaking from the heart.”
Not all of Ryan’s songs, however, are happy. As there is good and bad in life, there are good and bad themes the artist touches on in his music. No matter what his message is though, fans are tuning in and anxiously waiting to hear what Ryan comes up with next.
Ryan does it all. From composing material for a variety of other artists to producing his own musical works, he has been more than busy the past few years. With plans to release his new album this spring, the Georgia native didn’t always foresee a career in the industry. Ryan was drawn to music at an early age, but determining that it would play a much bigger role in his life wouldn’t happen until later. “My father was a drummer and my grandmother sang, so music was always there in a sense,” says Ryan. “My family didn’t pass it down to me in that way though. Music was just a natural form of expression. I played it because I enjoyed it. If you would have asked me when I was young if I was going to be an artist or songwriter, I would have said no.”
The first big break Ryan received in the business was through his efforts as a ghostwriter. He spent some time during his early adulthood doing this and was recruited for the line of work through his poetry. “I actually became involved with ghostwriting through a bad experience,” Ryan tells me. “I used to go to spoken word and open mic nights at Apache Café in Atlanta. After a publisher heard my poetry, he invited me to his studio. I wrote a song and then found out later that this song was on an album. I said to the publisher, hey that’s my song. And he said, no it’s mine because I copyrighted it. I didn’t know anything about this kind of stuff. I was only 18.”
Misleading circumstances turned into learning lessons with Ryan maintaining an optimistic outlook. He continued to work with the publishing company, this time as an official contracted ghostwriter. “Instead of being hotheaded, I made the best out of the situation with the hope that it would lead to better opportunities,” says Ryan. “If it wasn’t for that bad experience, I wouldn’t be on the path I am now.”
Ryan is placing more focus on his own work currently, preparing to release his third album. He is still in the process of recording some of the new record’s tracks, giving himself a deadline that falls somewhere between April and May. “The album is over halfway done,” says Ryan, “it’s just a matter of me not being so picky. I’m rewriting some of the tracks and have a few more songs to add vocals to. The target release date is April 11th. I’m really excited about the record because it’s going to be a good one.”
“Your Stare” and “Real Time” were two singles put out earlier this year. Ryan is also in the midst of another project that has him working with the famous remixing duo, KlubJumpers. Through this collaboration he is planning to release an EP of original dance songs.
On top of his many talents and musical ventures, Steve Ryan is also a member of the Grammy Voting Academy. I talked to Ryan right before this year’s award show and tried to find out what nominees he was excited about. “I haven’t really been following anybody because I’m so busy,” says Ryan. “I’m guilty of not participating in that way but I did vote. Typically, I go for the underdog, the unknown artists, because I’m in that category too.”
As his career progresses further with each new project, it doesn’t seem like Steve Ryan will be unknown for long. With versatile music and infectious lyrics, this musician could be the next underdog on the Grammy ballot.