Recently I sat down with local musician Dillon Ryan and had a conversation about his upcoming projects and his passion for music.
When I first pulled up to his residence, I noticed Dillon was standing on his porch, wearing a blue and black plaid shirt with a jacket slung over his shoulders. I pulled my car next to him and as he hopped in, he handed me a copy of his album.
“Can you listen to it when I’m not in the car, I still can’t listen to myself on my own album”
We both shared a laugh and I agreed to listen to the album after the interview was done.
We then proceeded to the nearest coffee shop to get our fix of caffeine and baked goods. we decided to drive downtown to the waterfront, parked the car and began the recorded conversation.
“My first album was a 5 piece EP that came out in 2014 titled Charlotte Street Haze, I recorded it on Charlotte Street in Fredericton”
Dillon Ryan left Miramichi, NB for Fredericton, NB for a few years to gain some experience in a bigger city and to experience a different atmosphere.
“I find that travelling and getting a sense of a city and getting into the mindset, can really inspire a creative mind because when I listen to my first record, I think that sounds like something that would come out of Fredericton”
While Dillon Ryan and I spoke, he mentioned his upcoming project that he is currently working on in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“I’m currently working on a new album up in Halifax and it really resonates with the Halifax music scene, It’s sorta like the culture and the environment and your surroundings sort of defines the production of your music.”
After Dillon mentioned that he is currently working on a new album in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I was curious as to whom he was working with.
“I’m currently working with a producer in Halifax named John Mullane. He plays in a very popular east coast band named In-Flight Safety and I’m a real big fan of his work and we have been working together, sort of bonding.
The old expression “creative minds think alike” comes into play when creative people get to work with each other and achieve a common goal creatively in a positive environment.
“It’s really exciting playing with a creative mind that’s on the same page as you but you both have slightly different influences”
Over the last 10 or 12 years, Dillon Ryan has been no stranger to a variety of instruments. He performs comfortably and professionally between guitar, drums and keyboard. All of which fueled his passion and creativity through the starting years of his music career.
“I’m sure certain people see me as a drummer from other bands but primarily I prefer guitar. I never see myself as a guitarist or a drummer, I like to see myself as a musician. I like to write whatever compliments the song I am working on”.
Dillon Ryan stated that his favorite guitar has to be his Rickenbacker 330 and he referenced that his influences for that specific guitar would be Johnny Marr, Roger Mcguinn and John Squire who all used the same guitar during some of their recordings.
“I find I use a lot more guitars that are associated with complimentary and modest guitar playing. I like making melodic guitar parts that compliments the context of the song.”
Dillon Ryan had mention Johnny Marr several times during our interview and he was lucky enough to do the one thing that all of us have only dreamed about. Dillon Ryan met his idol Johnny Marr.
“I met him after a concert in Toronto and he’s really been an inspiration on me, not just musically but how to conduct yourself on stage and just overall personality wise. A lot of musicians develop this massive ego but when I met him, he couldn’t be a nicer guy”.
Many times you will notice in the media that some artist believe they came to stardom naturally, that they did it all on their own without the help of fans or anyone else. Most people know that a musician without its fans support, may never fly higher with their career as an artist.
“The reason people grow in this industry is the fraternity of people who make it grow and the people that are buying records. The people that are going to the show and if you can’t be grateful for the people that made you what you are, then that’s kind of fucked up”.
Whether you are just starting out as a musician or you are a seasoned pro, every musician dreams of landing their first gig.
The first time performing on stage as the hot lights shine down on you and the silence covers the room as they anticipate your show, the first moment when you strike that E chord and nod off to your drummer is the most thrilling moment a musician can experience.
“When your first starting out, trying to get your name out there, your messaging anywhere you could possibly play and there’s some places that are not interested in what you play and there is places that’s like”, “yeah we will book you in for this date” But now, certainly in New Brunswick, there’s a good handful of places that know what I do, respect what I do and they just keep me in the rotation of things. I don’t take that for granted what so ever.
To have such an established feeling in the province of New Brunswick, I asked if he is interested in performing outside our province.
“When my new record comes out, I’m actually doing some dates in Nova Scotia, Pei, and Quebec.
The city of Miramichi has always been very proud of its heritage and its local artist and with the dominating music genre being Country, Folk and Blues. I asked Dillon if he found it difficult to resonate his style of music with the community.
“You know, I would never be the kind of artist who tailors my music or my set list to what city I’m playing in. I’ve played everywhere in Miramichi and I know which places are responsive for what I do and play at”.
“I try and write music that’s different but also accessible to people. I love pop melodies like the Beatles but I also like this music that’s a bit more other worldly, so it’s my natural instinct to unify those two things and make it a bit more like abstract pop”.
Dillon Ryan mentioned that David Bowie was a very big influence in his early career and is still a constant to this day.
David Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016 after a 18 month battle with cancer. The world was shocked and sad to see not only a brilliant musician pass away but an icon too musicians everywhere.
“I woke up early that morning and I had opened up my phone and it said four new messages and I had different friends telling me about it, It was a very profound moment”.
“I was very emotional about it”.
After the passing of one of Dillon Ryan’s biggest influences, he recorded a tribute song with local artist James McClafferty. The song of choice was David Bowie popular hit of 1983 “Let’s Dance”
Musicians will often take the opportunity to strike at a subject they don’t agree with and use their music as a platform to publicly announce it and for Dillon Ryan’s new album, he has included a special track that does just that.
Our conversation moved onto a small local media station and how he perceives it and he felt inspired to write the track entitled “In The lies Between” I asked him what the significance of that track was and he stated.
“In the lies between is a play on words for in the lines between. it’s about small town journalism and how coming from a small town, we should be very communal and out to help each other but iinstead this local media is more about adding comedic value to people’s imperfections.
Dillon Ryan went on to express his disinterest in that particular news outlet even though he was not personally targeted in any article that was published, He did state that he personally knew people and heard of people who were publicly humiliated.
“It’s a small town outlet for bullying because someone can do such a small crime and the administration of that site will go on someone’s Facebook, find the most unflattering photo of them and add a comedic headline. They take pride in publicly humiliating the people of this city. That’s faux journalism.”
After a couple of sips of coffee, we steered our conversation back on track to the topic of music. Dillon Ryan mentioned that he was nominated for an award and even though he did not win, he found it was a nice feeling.
“You take award type things for what they are, it’s nice but some of my favorite bands never got any type of award. It’s just a committee of thirty people who give their opinion, it’s not the end all of be all.”
Often times most creative people are scared of public opinion and are afraid of negative criticism.
When you finally muster the courage to show the world your work whether you’re writing poetry, an article, a song or creating the next Mona Lisa painting. You are opening up a part of you and showing the world your passion, which can leave you vulnerable and open to criticism. Fortunately as every artist knows, the creation of your passion is for yourself and yourself only and if other people like what you created, well that’s a bonus.
“In the start, you’re a bit more precious and bit more insecure and when someone says you got a really good voice but you got to work on your confidence, your first instinct is to tell them to fuck off but that’s still your audience and if they didn’t think you had any promise, they would have said anything to you in the first place.”
“There’s certain people I trust their opinion but i have to understand that there’s certain people that have different taste but no I never get offended at someone criticism because at the end of the day, you can’t force someone to like something.”
I asked Dillon Ryan if he had any words of encouragement for fresh artist who are just starting out, who are too scared to jump into the deep end of the proverbial pool.
He sat in silence as he contemplated the idea, his eye’s shifted to the floor, he took a sip of his coffee and let out a quick sigh.
“I don’t know, you have to accept that; it’s for yourself first, then I don’t think there’s anything to be ultimately scared of, whether your successful or unsuccessful in this business is inconsequential”.
“As long as your successful and true to yourself, that’s more important”.
“I think that if you’re expecting anything as far as validation from others, your expecting to much”.
We finished the interview with a drive home and just talking as two old friends who haven’t seen each other in a very long time.
I met Dillon Ryan over 10 years ago when we were just starting out as frustrated teenagers who were pissed at the world, not knowing where the road of life will take us.
We talked about our passions and reminisced of old times. As I drove over the countless potholes on the road, We talked about the one great thing about living in a small town, it’s the community and how it supports its own people.
“I think that coming from a smaller city, makes you a little naive and makes you dream a bit bigger”.
“I think if I grew up in a much bigger city like Moncton or Halifax, I wouldn’t have as much hope for my dreams because coming from a small town city, it’s easy to dig out what you want to the people of your city”.
“I feel if I tried to do what I’m doing now in a bigger city, I would have been lost in the shuffle”.
As I pulled into Dillon Ryan residence, I thanked him for his time and he told me to give his album a listen and I did just that.
I cracked the seal. Opened the cover and played the album.
As I drove away, The sound of the first track “out of touch” echoed throughout the car. I was pleased.
The Modern Typewriter.