“I scrapped everything that I’ve ever loved and told a brand new story” - hmv.com talks to Ryn Weaver
As her long-awaited debut album The Fool hits CD shelves (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page), we chatted to singer-songwriter Ryn Weaver about the writing and recording of her mesmeric first LP. During our chat she opened up about about why she feels her big name collaborators shouldn’t overshadow her own achievements and why this album is a concept album about a strange kind of love…
Your debut album is finally out, have you had it finished for a long time?
“We were done about by January, so it’d been done for a while, but I’m very happy it’s finally out.”
When did the songs for the record come together? Is it a combination of everything you’ve ever written?
“I’ve been writing my whole life, but I wanted to keep the record to a concept, I wanted it to feel like this moving body of work, I wrote for the record, I scrapped everything that I’ve ever loved and told a brand new story.”
You’ve got some big-names writing with on the record, Michael from Passion Pit, Charli XCX...
“They were people I knew, it’s weird, I get asked about this a lot and the answer isn’t what people think, when you start writing you’re just writing with your friends, it’s not some weird celebrity hook-up. With Michael, he just wanted to be on board, he heard my stuff and he wanted to be involved. With Charli, it’s been great, we did one track for my record together and then we’ve worked on some other things, some stuff for her, it’s great to work with these guys, but I could just as easily work with unknown, but brilliant people. It puts a shadow a bit on the songs, but it shouldn't, because it’s just writing.”
There’s also a track with Ryan Tedder on there, he’s co-written some huge tracks, like ‘Halo’ and ‘Bleeding Love’, was it intimidating working with him?
“We started a melody together, I hummed and hummed and we came up with the song and then I went home and finished it by myself, I was too scared to finish it in from of him. I’m very protective of my words and I didn’t want anyone else’s input on them. So I took it home.”
You’ve said it’s a concept record, can you tell us a bit about that?
“I wanted it to be a complete piece and a true expression of me. I feel like with a lot of female singers with male masterminds behind them, it’s very submissive, a lot of pop music, it’s not pushing the boundaries or trying anything different, these are independent, free people and their pop music isn’t an expression of that. The way I talk to my friends is very different from that, a lot of their message is ‘Wife me up’ and there are a lot of women who have a fear of commitment too. I never want to settle and never want to make my choices too soon.”
How did you make sure that came across on the album?
“So the record starts with my leaving this bad relationship, it’s kind of split in two, the first half is me leaving this bad relationship and as the record progresses it’s about finding my strength and independence. I’ve always been in relationships that are a bit overbearing, so it’s about taking time for myself and travelling and finding love with lots of different people. I learned a lot about me and how I might have been as big of a problem in the relationship and how even if you find the one you love, you might not be ready. It’s a question for modern women, and modern men, are you a fool for leaving what you’ve got? Or are you more foolish to stay?”
Do you end up playing characters in your songs? Just so you can approach things in different ways?
“It’s always my voice that comes through, my lyrical voice. In the beginning I’m very sharp-tongued and scared, but as it progresses I wander a bit more and you see the songs change a bit, it’s folkier and there’s more harmonies and it builds to the last song which is this very beautiful collision.”
Were there any artists you looked to for inspiration in how to pull this off?
“I’m a big fan of Bowie, Kate Bush and a lot of the artists from the late 70s and 80s, I feel like there was a lot more focus on the record as a whole. I love records that are stories, I think people are too afraid to do that now, too afraid of not selling enough singles, I want to be an artist who is focused on records, where every song is meaningful, whether it’s a single or not.”
Do you feel like artists have to hide that their albums are concept records? The last one we can think of is Janelle Monae, most people probably don’t know that’s a concept album...
“No one talks in those terms. Janelle Monae probably dealt with what I do, if you’re a woman in music people aren’t jumping to give you artistic credit, they probably think you’ve got someone else pulling the strings.”
Have you found a way to make the album come to life in the live arena?
“I’ve found a way to translate it. We play the record in sequence and we’re really enjoying taking it out.”
When will we see you back in the UK?
“I can’t say just yet, but there are plans, I’m really excited to come back and play, especially now the record’s out.”
Ryn Weaver’s debut album The Fool is out now