Q: I love how your emotions just pour through on “Trying”. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind creating this track?
Calvin Ryan: I had to dig a little deeper for the inspiration for this one. I know it’s a song that most people can understand and a feeling most guys can relate to. As a male, it can be really daunting trying to express your emotions and feelings, so for a song with a subject like the one behind ‘Trying’ I really wanted to get vulnerable with not only the audience and listeners but with myself. Music is a way of expressing my emotions and feelings after all — and creating a song like ‘Trying’ also allowed me to get that much needed closure to be able to move on as well.
Q: The Production on “Trying” is near flawless! Walk me through the production process on making this song.
Calvin Ryan: Thank you so much! I really appreciate the love. Although I’m an artist first – I’m a recording and mixing engineer here in NYC as well. I used to work with JD at a studio in Times Square and we always clicked and vibed – There was always good energy. The song literally came out of nowhere though. JD and I were at the studio one day and we always talked about collabing on a song together and that day we had some free time and decided it was time to get to work – that’s the beauty of music. It was literally just the right time and right place. I walked in that day not expecting anything, but leaving with a song that made me dig into my emotions to bring out and express some repressed feelings.
Q: The beat on “Trying” is infectious; it’s a perfect song for being in your feelings to, but also a perfect kickback track. What are you hoping listeners will take from this track?
Calvin Ryan: Again thank you so much. I really want listeners to truly be immersed in every single one of my tracks and understand and feel every emotion. Although it’s definitely changing for the better, there’s still a lot of negative stigma around male mental health and I’m a big advocate of breaking those stigmas as I myself suffer from mental health disorders. In the music industry – especially for males, it’s always about sex, drugs, and the big baller lifestyle – and although there will always be people that want to listen to that and care for that – I know for a fact that every male also has moments of weakness and heartbreak. And tapping into those emotions and understanding what leads to those feelings, emotions, and actions, allows one to better themselves and better handle their emotions and feelings in the future.
Q: In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?
Calvin Ryan: I honestly think it’s a mixture of everything – I know most artists probably say that trying to emphasize how they’re different from the rest, but when it comes to music, I want to be able to create music that allows me to connect with everyone and really emphasize our similarities as humans. I’m Asian and Hispanic (mostly Burmese and Ecuadorian), and to people who don’t know me, they immediately assume Asian (which isn’t wrong) but looking past my appearance, you’ll understand that my mother is Ecuadorian. I was raised by my Ecuadorian grandparents in my house b/c they would take care of me and my siblings while my parents worked every day. I speak Spanish at home and grew up listening to my Grandpa blasting all types of music in the house. (Sidenote – no matter where we went if there was live music, he would ALWAYS ask the bands/singers/musicians if they had a CD that he could buy. He has CDs from local bands from everywhere – Ecuador, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Canada, etc. My grandpa loves to sing and liked to listen to everyone from Iggy Azalea and Shakira to a small local mariachi band from a restaurant in Dominican Republic) So I grew up listening to all kinds of music. I also grew up listening to the radio a lot as a kid and always loved the rhythmic, smooth, melodic flows and hooks – and I always try to bring that into my songs b/c who doesn’t love a catchy hook/chorus. From ‘Want You’ which is a dancehall/pop/raggaeton type of song to ‘Trying’ and ‘Steez’ – I’m all about creating a vibe that everyone can sway their heads to, dance to, or belt out crying.
Q: From the lyric, “I know I F**ed up at the party,” I’m sensing “Trying” is about a mistake you made, and how you hurt someone you loved in the process. What was your creative process in making “Trying”? Was it emotional for you to write?
Calvin Ryan: It was definitely emotional to write – I had to dig into memories and thoughts that I thought I had buried and repressed years ago. It was great being able to finally feel those emotions and really find my closure with them and the past relationship.
Q: What has been one of the highlights of your music career so far?
Calvin Ryan: It’s all been a highlight. The ups and the downs. I got a random DM from Rich The Kid a couple months back to come to his apartment in NYC and record him. That was probably the highlight so far – It was completely unexpected and I’m very hard on myself and my work. I’m my biggest critique, but the feeling I had when I checked my phone and saw that DM was insane and I know it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Q: How is the music scene in New York?
Calvin Ryan: The music scene in New York (although it’s great and there is a TON of talent) is getting repetitive (from what I’ve been able to see of course). For the most part, everyone I engineer or record the past year has just been rappers wanting to be the next Pop Smoke – doing a drill song, sampling an old 2000s song, all talking about the opps, fighting, and killing, and it’s really repetitive tbh) BUT I do know there’s A LOT more than just that in New York and I understand I can’t talk for all of NY myself because at the same time I know a ton of talented artists in every genre from alternative rock to Reggaeton that I think can really put NYC back on the map musically.
Q: Any projects in the works you can tell me about?
Calvin Ryan: Ooof – where do I start hahahah. I’ve been working all of last year and this year so far on music and am finally ready to go on a music dropping SPREE and just show the world what I have to offer. Now that Summer’s coming though – be prepared for a couple Summer tracks meant to get you on your feet and feeling yourself. I’m actually dropping a new track ‘Sucia’ May 25th. It’s a big song with 2 other artists and 2 producers homies made the beat too. Pre-save is out too so definitely go check that out too!
Photo credits: Axel Kabundji (@akabundji)
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano
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