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Get a Glimpse into the Process of RY X

Heart follows the head when it comes to Aussie native, turned LA resident, RY X aka Ry Cuming. We sat down with the singer-songwriter to unearth the beliefs behind his working process and his advice to those looking to follow a similar path. (Stay tuned for RY X’s new single out tomorrow in collaboration with Ólafur Arnalds.) 

Ry’s passion for his art was fuelled by growing up in New South Wales, Australia, surrounded by music and a familiar carefree attitude to life. Living near Australia’s Gold Coast, surfing has been a hobby since he was a child, one which heavily influences his music. “Born on the coasts and growing up in the ocean started my deep connection with surfing and the salt, and it has only grown more foundational since. In many ways, I would say I’m a man of the sea even before calling myself an artist.”

To give you some perspective on his circumstances, his entire school was attended by just eleven children. This outlook has rested on his shoulders through to his adult life, “I think the passion for music lies in all of us. It’s a deeply important medium of communication and has been part of our lives and cultures for millennia, in celebration, storytelling, and emotional connection.” It’s not shocking then that his tracks are overflowing with lyrics that tell a tale and tear your mind away from the mundane (look to “To Know” or “Deliverance”.)

Cuming now lives in LA, a place that’s known for its beauty and bane, as summed up by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”

LA has allowed Ry to envelop himself amongst a community of like-minded friends and artists in the area, people who reflect his outlook on life and how to live it. It’s very collaborative and has a beautiful range, from the underground scenes to bigger studios and venues and the artists/producers that inhabit them. It, therefore, creates a melting pot to flourish within.” 

You might see Los Angeles and think; botox, bodybuilders and vacuous actors – a place that constricts creativity rather than allows it to blossom. But you’ll be left corrected by Cuming, “From an exterior perspective the entrance into LA can feel that it’s based on a different set of values or reasoning in terms of art-making and the industries that surround it but, with time you find that there is a wonderful non-competitive culture here in music and art across the mediums.”

He has some experience of the mainstream music world himself though, having toured with Maroon 5 and with Rihanna asking him to remix a song of hers. “In many ways, I have consciously sidestepped that world.” In the three years since his track “Berlin” arrived online, and with more than 4.5M video views, the song has appeared in colorful Sony Bravia adverts and covered by Sam Smith. But the journey means far more to Ry than the destination. “I only think about creation, expression, and the song when I write and produce. Trying to create with the intention of it ending up somewhere seems deeply counter-intuitive to me. The art and process have to lead always, then, it has authenticity and honest expression in it.” 

Mentioning his hit track “Berlin’”, there’s obviously something about the city that appeals to him quite strongly – he believes that it’s a sense of freedom and acceptance, “I feel accepted in whatever expression I feel like conveying and I feel inspired to create and push boundaries”. With one of his frequent collaborators, Frank Wiedemann, he organizes a small festival called Sacred Ground on a farm west of Berlin. “Starting a festival is challenging a lot of work and dedication. It came from the idea of missing intimacy and really connected experiences while I was playing many festivals around the world. It was about combining worlds – visually, musically, creatively – to bring the music of underground clubs in Berlin into forests and fields of the country. To bridge the spaces and genres of how we experience the world musically and creatively into one place.”

As for what’s coming next from RY X there are albums incoming from his two collaborative projects HOWLING and THE ACID – “they are more electronic and non-linear” – as well as a live album under his own name that will feature orchestral sounds from the likes of Olafur Arnalds, Black Coffee and more who have toured with him. Plus, the possibility of another feature LP. One that comes straight from the heart, “I would always ask [a musician] to trust their heart and intuitions. That’s when your music and art will align with your spirit and that’s what you truly want to give, and live.”

Images Courtesy of Jessica Gwyneth

Stay tuned to Milk for more music moments. 

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