Matthew Ryan Talks "In the Dusk of Everything"
Fri, 26 Oct 2012 10:33:21
"It's been a long road for me," smiles Matthew Ryan. "In the Dusk of Everything is particularly special because I follow my own engine."
That "engine", as Ryan puts it, roars on his latest album. In the Dusk of Everything is an eloquent and enthralling collection of soulful songs that tread a singular path between rock, blues, and folk. Ryan's voice possess immense prowess, and you'll instantly feel it. However, his lyrics truly drive it home. Open and honest, he ruminates upon love and life with a poignant and poetic perspective. Ryan stands out as one of the truest and most talented songwriters of the 21st century.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Matthew Ryan talks In the Dusk of Everything, artists that shaped him, and so much more.
Did you approach In the Dusk of Everything with one vision or vibe in mind?
It's a funny thing. You have an intention for every record, but you can't always make it happen or reach what you have in mind. A lot of records become something else, and you have to welcome that. This was a rare event where exactly what I had in mind came to be. The hope was to create a series of vignettes with a particular mood. I've always loved mood records—albums that are quintessential for a specific time of year or time of day. Leonard Cohen's The Future is a mood record. The Blue Nile's Hats is a great late night record. I wanted to make a record that revolved around a particular emotional space.
What mood did you want to capture?
That's where it can probably get a little more complex than I intend. Even the title, conceptually the idea of dusk is that you're operating in a space of equal light and dark. I wanted the album to have an honesty and purity when it comes to the things that we as men and women go through. Life is complex and simple at the same time. As you go further into living, that can have a price, but we should always be leaning towards beauty. That's kind of what the record's about. Ultimately, you want to find a sense of peace even in the face of frustrations.
What's the story behind "The Events at Dusk"?
I grew up loving so much different kinds of music. Oddly enough, I had Willie Nelson on my mind when I wrote that. It's hard to explain. In some ways, it's a song about an embattled romance. There are metaphors to describe what that feels like. It's one of my favorites. It's a very odd song, but it's also very simple. It confronts my own impulses as a man to be self-destructive. Anyone who's honest with themselves can see where their path can diverge. There are consequences. We should be more vigilant when it comes to the things we hold dear. We can be careless with them sometimes, and that's what it's saying. You've got to hear it.
Where did "Let's Wave Goodbye" come from?
If this were a film, you'd say it was the moment of revelation where the characters come to terms with exactly why it is they commit to themselves and each other the way they do. It can be taken many ways. However, the intent is, if we've been monsters and been heroes simultaneously, why don't we chose one and be that? The notion of drawing a line between the past and present leaning towards the future is a beautiful thing. It's something we're capable either in spite of or in addition to our nature.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
In some ways, it'd probably be an epic tale between Crash, Cinema Paradiso, and Mystic River. I mean it! There's a lot of sorrow in the record, but there's also a lot of beauty and opportunity for romance. When I say "romance", I don't mean it as a hallmark word. I mean that in the ways we commit to each other for what's possible. That's romantic. Romance is a war zone on some levels [Laughs]. At least that's been my experience. I hope people can see themselves in the music. It's not like a diary. I wanted to try to make it filmic. We tend to look at films and have the ability to put ourselves in the position of lead characters. A lot of times with music, we don't want to see ourselves in it. This is intended as a cinematic journey through the beauty we're capable of and the choices we make.
What artists shaped you?
I love so much music. It's a very diverse list of things I still hold dear. The Clash, The Replacements, and U2 were probably my first loves because they felt like they were my music. I came of age in the mid-80s, and that music meant the world to me. It was all rooted so it led me to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, and Joy Division. Those are things I love, and I love music that's an extension of them. I love The Gaslight Anthem and Glasvegas. Growing up in Philadelphia, Bruce Springsteen was endless fuel.
Have you heard Matthew Ryan yet?
Visit Matthew's store to order In the Dusk of Everything.