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Interview: Ry X

Australia’s Ry X has garnered quite the buzz in recent months, following the quiet release of his Berlin EP in August last year. The EP’s title track, ‘Berlin’, soon set tongues wagging over at Sony Bravia and the track was later chosen to soundtrack their recent TV advert, which ran in the UK, France and Germany. Such is the power and immediacy of ‘Berlin’, it immediately jumped up the UK iTunes and Shazam charts, as well as becoming a regular on UK radio.

Now residing in LA, Ry X’s captivating falsettos undulate delightfully amid acoustic guitar and are the mark of something uniquely special. Not to mention, a little bird tells us he’s a fan of drinking tea backstage and making everyone join him. Where do we sign up to be his best friend? We caught him for a chat recently to get the lowdown on his story so far…

PlanetNotion: Firstly, you originated from Australia, but I hear you’re now based in LA – when you get some free time, what does a day in the life of Ry X look like?
Ry X: The sea. The sea. I belong with her. Running from city streets, yoga, making art with my community, seeing my friends’ art and their dance and visual pieces come together, dinners with dear beings and the sea.

PN: That sounds pretty delightful. So, you re-released the hauntingly beautiful lead track from your recent EP, Berlin, back in November. How did it feel to have that track synced on an advert here in the UK?
Ry X: The advert doesn’t concern me too much… I don’t really like supporting commercial concepts too much with art, but this one was a visually beautiful and it didn’t compromise the music, so I went with it. The exposure they [adverts] bring is beautiful, as long as it maintains its integrity on the way to the wider spread of people. That’s really important to me.

PN: You also played a handful of European shows towards the end of last year, including a show at London’s The Nave. How was that experience?
Ry X: It’s a treasure to play to those willing of heart to be there: a gift. I don’t like the tour life of travel and no connected time in places too much, but I do love sharing art with people and feeling the heartbeat of the land change as you move. It was my 2nd time in London and I played in a beautiful old chapel filled with bodies there to watch me make music. What more could an artist ask for?

PN: What’s the symbolic meaning, if any, behind the ‘X’ following Ry?
Ry X: The ‘X’ is there because I wanted a collaborative environment to be created for my music and makings. Ry X Frank Wiedemann, Ry X MOCA LA etc… It’s something that can grow, so I can work across mediums with different artists and collectives that I love.

PN: So, you were the co-director and creative mastermind behind the ‘Berlin’ video. It’s a visual statement of intent and raw simplicity, was it an important factor for you to create it yourself?
Ry X: I need to have my hands on the makings of things that link to my music and I believe in portraying visual pieces for music; art to accompany sound instead of the overly gentrified ‘music video’ used so much these days. The video was an idea I had, and a friend and I shot it. It was one take. Two cameras. No actors or roles. No scripting. The girl in it was my lover, my muse. For me, it’s always better to derive things from an honest place, and how better than from your own hands to other people. That’s why I am involved in so many of the processes; the writing, production, mixing, artwork, videos. I don’t know how else to do it.

PN: Talking of which, I absolutely love the Berlin EP artwork & overlay – who created that?
Ry X: Me. Lots of hours over collage papers and 16mm film stills. Too many tiny dots and gold third eyes…

PN: It’s certainly a unique and visually stunning idea. When you’re not rummaging through collage papers, do you have any personal rituals?
Ry X: Mornings have become a cherished thing for me of late. Quiet moments before the busy world knocks heavily. I listen to ragas every morning and practice some yoga, or if I’m close enough I’ll run to the sea and surf. Connecting before the world takes over is important to me.

PN: And, where do you find your best energy? 
Ry X: Inside now. It becomes the home when you move a lot. The sea gives me a pulse, as does the sun and my community of artists in LA and Berlin, but it always changes; everything does. It’s the beauty of impermanence. I’m working to try to hold it within myself. That’s the goal: to be able to access the energy there.

PN: Now we’re into the New Year, did you get chance to take a much-needed break over Christmas?
Ry X: I am right now. We’ve just got to the beauty of summer in Australia, my home. Byron bay: by the sea under salt and open skies, mangoes staining hands, a grounding of heart and bones for me.

PN: And lastly, how do you take your tea?
Ry X: Milk ‘n’ honey, please.

- Hannah Daisy

Ry X is on tour in February. You can catch him on the following European dates:

16 February – Salford (Manchester), St Philip’s Church
17 February – London, Union Chapel
20 February – Cologne, Ehrenfeld
21 February – Berlin, Passionkirche
22 February – Rotterdam, Paradijskerk
24 February – Paris, Café de Danse
26 February – Brussels, Rotonde

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