FYIG Chats With Singer/Songwriter Tanya Ryan

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Tanya. I have a tiny dog named Bu. I’m married to the best and loudest human being I’ve ever met. I like popcorn and Harry Potter. Oh yeah, and I write music and have an album called “Open” coming out on February 20th

How did you get your start in music?

I am an inherently logical thinker, so a career in music wasn’t an idea I entertained. When I left high school, I started a marketing degree. It took about 3 years of university, but eventually, I felt really unfulfilled and sort of lost. I almost impulsively decided to move to Alberta. I got this idea that it was now or never – if a career in music was even remotely close to an option, I may as well get after it. I started playing open mic nights and hosting jams. Eventually, I got opportunities to play in various local venues -- everything came pretty organically. 

How would you describe your musical style?

I like to pull inspiration and ideas from all sorts of places, so ‘eclectic’ would be my favourite word to describe it. The album itself has a lot of different influences and musical styles. That said, if you wanted something more tangible to reference, I’ve worked out that I sound like some mathematical equation that involves Norah Jones, Colbie Caillat, and Sheryl Crow. 

How have you evolved as an artist since your 2014 debut EP, “Simple As That”?

When I created “Simple As That”, I was really focused on writing songs that people would like. I wanted my art to be consumable, and I really wanted people to like it and me. I was trying to be authentic -- and I was as authentic as I could be at that time; but in hindsight, I see that I was delivering a lot of content that was a surface representation of myself. I don’t write like that anymore. If it doesn’t strike my heart… it doesn’t go on the page. 

“Open” was an opportunity to reveal what is most honest and true about who I am and what I feel through honest and heartfelt expression. The songs on this album are an uncensored version of the most vulnerable and real parts of me. “My Heart Song” in particular. Putting those words on paper felt brave. Releasing it into the world for others to hear felt impossible… that song is a big deal for me. 

What can you tell us about your latest single, “My Heart Song”?

“My Heart Song” was the final song written for this album. I was experiencing a really challenging depression when I wrote it. I couldn’t seem to identify myself as worthy or purposeful.  I felt I had no value -- in my own life and in others’. It really stalled my creativity -- I avoided writing, singing, playing… all of it.  

Randomly one day I heard this lyric pass through my head  “My heart knows things that I don’t…”  -- it was the first creative spark I’d had in so long. I sat down with my guitar and my notebook and it sort of just funneled out of me. It felt like everything I needed to hear to lift me out of my depression – it told me that no matter how bleak things seem that there’s always something inside me that is capable of lifting me through that experience. 

How was it working with producer Mark Troyer on the track?

Mark is one of my most favourite humans on the planet. He’s been so great to work with. He has this ability to really understand what I’m looking for in my songs -- and also the perfect amount of candor and feedback. If he doesn’t think something I’ve written or sung is reaching its potential, he tells me. And that kind of honesty is really valuable to me. He’s really committed to making the best possible project. 

You have a new album which will be out on February 20th called, “Open”. What can audiences expect from that set of songs?

It’s got a wide variety of sounds and styles from a sonic perspective… and yet somehow they all managed to tie themselves together with this mutual, underlying theme of love. Every song is dealing with some form of love -- the desire for love, the love you have for someone you’ve chosen to spend your life with, the love a mother feels for her son, love you feel as you pursue your dreams, and even some good ol’ fashioned sexy-time love. It’s all on there. 

You’re also a soon-to-be mom. How do you expect your music career to be influenced by that development in your life?

If I only knew, then maybe I wouldn’t be waking up in a daily existential crisis! Haha. 

I think the only thing I can forecast -- based entirely on my observation of others with children – is that it will increase my capacity as a human being entirely and completely. My ability to experience love with grow 100-fold and my patience, understanding, compassion, frustration… it will all be bigger. If that sort of shift doesn’t write albums, I don’t know what will. 

What advice would you have for aspiring singers/songwriters?

Write what is true and real for you. Because it is absolutely, undoubtedly, real and true for someone else. 

What’s your life like outside of music?

I am incredibly boring and I love to be in my house. I have a really lovely home, and I like to be in my home watering my plants and reading books. When you can remove me from the comforts of my home… I love to hike. Aren’t we lucky to live in such a beautiful country? Nature is the place I feel most at home outside my home. There’s really nothing that compares to a mountain summit… it’s pretty amazing up there. A special kind of quiet. I’m also a pretty dedicated yoga practitioner… and I like to read tarot cards. 

Let the readers know where to find you online.

I’m on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @tanyaryanxo -- and my YouTube is TanyaRyanMusic. You can also visit my website and blog (I love to blog!) at TanyaRyan.ca