By Brendan Callan, Photo credit: Erika Mugglin
Rynn is an L.A. based alternative, dream-pop artist who has used her songwriting and networking skills to gain eight million streams of her single “Islands” on Spotify. She’s also collaborated with rising Dutch DJ R3HAB’s, born as Fadil El Ghoul, on his song, “Talking To You.” We discussed these feats, as well as her songwriting process for “Tokyo,” “Islands,” and her latest single, “In My Head” in anticipation for her next EP, which will be released sometime in 2019.
When did you start singing and writing your own songs?
I guess I’ve always been singing and dabbling in writing little songs. My mom would always say I started singing before I started talking. I didn’t really formally sing then, it was just about, you know, the love of singing. I feel like even as a kid, when I would take piano lessons I would always want to play the songs my own way. Like, I’d be playing Beethoven or something and I had a super strict Russian piano teacher who would get so mad when I played it different. I would just add my own little embellishments to things just to make her mad. And I’d say, “This is more fun if I play it my way!” And she would reply, “Someday you can play your own songs, but right now you have to play this.” So I finally thought, “OK, I’ll just go write my own songs.”
Maybe around junior high, high school there was a big MySpace scene in my hometown, so there were tons of local high school bands. I thought, “OK, I guess I can do this, too.” Then I started an acoustic singer-songwriter project where I’d play at coffee shops in my home town and stuff like that. From there it just evolved.
I know you touched on MySpace, but do you have any other thoughts on this new digital age of music-networking and how that can help out indie artists such as yourself?
Yeah, I mean the world is at your fingertips I guess; if you just end up reaching out to the right person at the right time. I released that EP [Nightfires] with “Islands” on it the week after I graduated from college and I was like, “OK, I’ll give it the summer and really try the music, songwriting thing before I look at other options for a real job.”
I remember the day after it was released I went to a coffee shop and thought, “OK this is out but I don’t know what to do with it. I guess if I had a team they would email people.” So I asked myself, “Who would they email?” Then I made a list of anyone I could think of who was involved in music in anyway. I found an article that listed who the Spotify playlist curators were and then from there I used the email generator websites and figured out a lot of their emails. Then I emailed anyone I could find who worked at Spotify. One of the girls working there responded and said, “This is actually really cool.” She forwarded me to the guy who curates all of the indie stuff. That happened early enough with Spotify where they weren’t getting bombarded yet. With that I just really lucked out somehow.
Did being found on Spotify after all your networking with their curators have a connection with you being featured on R3HAB’s song “Talking To you?"
Yeah, I think before I was even on any of the bigger Spotify playlists my version of, “Talking to You” was on one of the the Fresh Finds Hiptronixs playlist, just on its own. That was like right when it was released, so I guess some of the producers who work with R3HAB go through those playlists a lot to look for, like, super small undiscovered artists to find songs they can pitch to artists like R3HAB. So they just found it and sent me a DM on SoundCloud, and were like, “Hey, would you mind sending us the stems?” [They] linked me to their wikipedia page with these huge credits of other stuff they were working on. I was like, “Um, I dunno if this is real but the worst that can happen is that there’s a bad remix somewhere around.” I think he did wonderful. R3HAB is awesome.
In the second verse of “Islands” you state, “Thoughts pile up until they’re mountaintops.” What are your thoughts on anxiety in relationships?
I’m very much in my thoughts and not really always articulating what I’m feeling and not necessarily feeling like my feelings are relevant in relationships, and they definitely should be. For that specific lyric, thinking back on a relationship situation that I was in then — there were so many things that were going wrong with it that I was like, “It’s fine, it’s fine, I don’t wanna make an issue of it.” Then pretty soon there were all these burdens and issues in my mind that became, like, a huge thing. I dunno, like a mountain in my mind.
Regarding “Tokyo,” what is your thought process like in making the sounds tell as much of a story as the lyrics do in your songs?
For the initial writing of each song the lyrics and the music are almost two separate processes in a way. I’ll kind of have one thing in my notepad of just different little phrases or poems that I’ve started. Then I’ll sit down in Logic and start playing sounds to create some atmosphere. I feel like once I’ve created an atmosphere that makes me feel a certain way then I’ll come back and attach the lyrics to that. That’s hard to articulate — what makes the sounds have the emotions — but that’s something that’s definitely a priority. I always just want it to feel like the listener is almost like stepping into this other dreamworld, like the atmosphere is setting the tone for itself even without the lyrics.
Do you have any thoughts on the idea of distance from a relationship after it didn’t work out?
Yeah, the way I naturally deal with relationships in real life is once something is over, it's over for me. I'm not like a, let's-stay-friends-or-close-or-whatever type of person. Once that season is done I kind of naturally just move on and step into the next season of things, not that there aren’t exceptions. But, I guess “Tokyo” is the most honest song in regards to that. That whole song is basically about me literally going to Tokyo and having a breakdown about everything that was happening. So that’s the most literal song I’ve ever written, probably.
You can listen Rynn’s latest single “In My Head” on Spotify and her new EP will be released in 2019.
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