Rising star Phoebe Ryan opens up to The Daily Californian

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Phoebe Ryan/Courtesy

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After beginning her career as a songwriter, Phoebe Ryan is now ready to emerge as a solo artist. The Los Angeles-based performer has breathy pop vocals similar to those of Tove Lo and Ellie Goulding, and her tracks feature layered synths and textures atop her voice. She describes her music as “indie pop, if that means anything.” For her debut release, Ryan shared a mash-up of R. Kelly’s “Ignition” and Miguel’s “Do You.” She will likely blow up in the next year as she leaks more tracks from her first EP.

Ryan first gained interest in the music industry when her friends asked her to join their Grateful Dead cover band in high school. Although she admits that they “sucked,” she was excited about the experience. After her cover band disintegrated, she took a few years out of the spotlight to become a songwriter. She has always felt confident in her choice to be a musician, but after years of writing, Phoebe feels ready to write her own tracks.

And she has the support of people who know her personally. “Phoebe’s an incredible songwriter who has such a keen ear for melodies,” said the rising star’s press representative, Nancy Lu. “I’m so impressed with how diverse her skills are, especially when you consider she’s written with people across the spectrum — from EDM group Tritonal and rapper Skizzy Mars.” When The Daily Californian asked Lu what set Ryan apart from other current artists, her answer was quick and clear: “Her voice. Listeners of this generation need strong, empowered female voices.”

Launching her solo career, however, does not mean abandoning songwriting altogether. She mentions that she has “some songs on hold for an artist right now that … are some of the best [she’s] written.” She coyly withheld further detail, aside from the elaboration, “The songs are fresh as fuck.”

Although she composes songs for other artists, Ryan chose to release a cover as her debut, rather than a piece she wrote for herself. “I thought it would be cool to do a cover to kind of break the ice and experiment,” Ryan said in an interview with the Daily Cal. “It was the beginning of everything … and that’s why I … wanted to put it out first.” In the upcoming weeks, Ryan will release tracks she wrote herself, including the single “Mine.” Even when she moves from adopting R. Kelly’s classic to something else, Ryan creates something equally as catchy for the pop genre.

During her years as a songwriter, Ryan’s style diverged in the opposite direction from her high school career, switching from Grateful Dead covers to pop compilations. The variety in style is mirrored in the range of artists who Ryan considers to have inspired her career. She writes that some of her idols “seem a little removed from [her] project, genre, and sound,” while others align with her style. Amongst others, the singer includes Bob Dylan, St. Vincent, Bjork, The Black Eyed Peas and Landlady on her list of inspirations. She and her band are running with these inspirations to create their unique style.

After a bit more rehearsal time with her band, Ryan will start doing live shows. She plans to focus solely on singing in the performances, though she jokes that “maybe someday I’ll bust out a sick guitar solo.” In terms of future collaboration, Ryan wants to work “with as many people in as many genres as possible.” In particular, she would like to work with Erik Hassle, the Swedish vocalist whose deep, soul sounds would complement Ryan’s alto voice.

Regarding the future of her career, Ryan did not reveal a distinct plan: “I think it’s going to be wild, exhausting and probably the most fulfilling thing I’ll experience. Who knows. I’m going to work my ass off and see what happens.” With her drive to achieve and her distinct voice, perhaps anything is possible.

Sasha Chebil covers music. Contact her at [email protected].