Artist Interview: Ryan David Orr
Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging life are pleased to bring you an interview with indie-rock/folk artist, Ryan David Orr.
1. How did you get started as an artist?
I started around 7 years old playing violin. Later, I got interested in “rock band” instruments and focused on guitar. My mother was a folk and country singer/songwriter, so there were always guitars around. By the time I was in high school I was writing and performing original stuff, mostly inspired by the 90s grunge and hard rock scene, mixed with some classic rock and alt-country.
2. How would you describe your sound?
I usually say my sound is something like indie-rock or indie-folk. I use a lot of organic textures and instruments, and usually have some elements of ambience, like synths or strings, sometimes electronic beats or programming. I feel like my sound is very cinematic, but also has an emphasis on lyrical content.
3. What bands/artists would you say have influenced your style of music?
There are quite a few. For rock and heavy rock, it was Pearl Jam, Tool, Deftones, System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine; for folk and alt-country it was Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams, Uncle Tupelo, Iron and Wine, Wilco, Nick Drake, Richard Buckner, CSNY; for hip-hop it was Mos Def, El-P, The Roots, Nas, Dr. Dre; for indie/alt-rock it was Radiohead, Bjork, Tori Amos, Elliott Smith. Then also a lot of Tom Waits, Beethoven, PJ Harvey, Chopin, Sade, Pink Floyd, Jackson Browne. There are a lot more, too, but these are some major influences for me.
4. Has the rise of YouTube & music streaming helped or hindered you as an artist?
I think a little of both. It’s obviously easier to seek out an audience with modern tools, but at the same time, now there is a thick bog of music to trudge through as a listener, so it’s often harder to reach people through the noise. One of the tricky things is that modern technology has influenced a fast-paced “consume” mentality for many people, so the general attention span is super short. So, I think that making music that may require people to sit still for a moment and think about what’s being communicated or what they are listening to is almost asking too much of them. It often feels like the way to appeal to the masses is to give up artistry for the sake of gimmickry because they respond more readily to gimmicks than art.
5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not making music?
All kinds of stuff. I teach college English, I love to garden. I hike all the time and travel a lot. I write short stories and fiction, as well as poetry. I am a major film fan and studied film in college, so I watch a lot of films and write/direct film projects (mostly for music videos). I love cooking, so I usually experiment at home with that. I read a lot and listen to vinyls. I like going for bike rides in the mountains and playing disc golf when I can.
6. What are your future plans musically? Tours?
I will be releasing a series of singles with The Animal Farm over the next year or so for streaming platforms. I am also soon to be releasing my 10th album, which I have been working on for the last 2 years. It will come out on CD and Vinyl, then later for streaming. I am finishing a music video/short film for one of the songs from this new album, and that will be done in the next month or two. I will play a lot of shows in my home state of Arizona for the rest of this year, but I hope to get back to out-of-state touring and touring abroad as soon as possible!