Ryan Hicks is gearing up to release his new album, "Experience", on March 24th and to celebrate we asked him to tell us about the new single from the effort, "Kaleidoscope." Here is the story:
During the first year of the Pandemic I really struggled with many things. That said, I was incredibly lucky as my health was good and I had a job (I am a teacher as well as an artist, pandemic teaching was incredibly difficult-but at least I had job security and my health where others did not). My life up until that point was very busy and then all of a sudden it wasn't. Busy with playing music, home life, work, etc. Those first few months of the pandemic were especially tough as there was so much uncertainty in the world, but also with my inner-thoughts. I LOVE songwriting, and even though I had the time to write, I did not write or play much of anything for well over a year. Any music made me sad as I love playing music and the prospects for live performance were not good. I struggled with my mental health, not because of the pandemic, but as having time to reflect brought up many issues I was struggling with.
I spent so much time outside. While the world seemed to be chaotic, I found peace in being outside with my dog and listening to the sounds around me. I live close to downtown Regina and it seems like it is always loud with traffic and other noisy things. Suddenly, it was quiet and still. I could hear every bird, the wind blowing through the trees and other beautiful sounds that were always there, but seemed to be drowned out by city sounds constantly around me. I would spend my time outside going for long walks with my dog around a beautiful lake by my house. I found inner peace with myself through spending time outside, reflecting and seeking counselling for my mental health. I was very lucky as I was able to find a great therapist and working with her helped me with those inner-issues I struggled with (e.g. I was angry all the time and carried that with me). In addition to helping with my mental health, it helped my creativity as while I was spending time thinking back to my childhood, it allowed me to reconnect with my feelings as a kid and brought a sense of love, mystery and wonder that I had as a child into my art as an adult. I realized those feelings I had never went away, and were still with me.
The time away from music was a good thing as it allowed me time to reconnect with myself. I had so much reflective time and slowing down forced me to ask myself, "What do I want to do with my life?" and, "What do I want to do with my time?". For me, it was important to send love out into the world. I felt so much love inside as I was optimistic about the future for all people if we worked together. By putting music aside for a long time, it reminded me how much I need it and how much I long to make music. Music is my way of expressing myself, connecting to others and sending love back into the world.
Once I was intentional about songwriting again, it flowed through me like a great river. I felt that same excitement and love as when I started writing songs as a teen, but also with the wisdom and knowledge of my experiences as an adult. I started writing this song with the music first with improvisation on the piano. I love the optimism of the folk movement of the 60's and 70's and wanted to channel that feeling of peace and love in a contemporary way. That improvisation helped me craft the music (which I am very proud of). The song's verses are in the key of D with a descending bass line that contrasts the rise in the melody (contrary motion), while the chorus jumps to the key of Bb (not a related key, but I bridge the two using the note "D" as a common tone). This jump really lifts the melody and was exciting as musically it was fresh and not derivative of the music that inspired me from the 60's and 70's (not intentionally, but I think you can hear influences of Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson coming through loud and clear with the beautiful melody and optimism). The lyrics flowed quickly almost as a mediation of gratitude using my senses to guide me. "Green trees. Blue skies. Little birds flying high. Everyday a gift to share with you" was what I was seeing/hearing/feeling in the moment with love for nature, my dog, my family as the "you" (this could be romantic love or love of universe- I like leaving it up to the listener to answer for themselves who their "you" is).
I had the song, the ideas for the arrangement, but it was fun recording this song with Jonathan Anderson (my producer) at his home studio. His studio is in beautiful Maple Ridge BC and every morning before our sessions I would wake up early and go for a hike through the beautiful paths surrounded by the mountains. Before we recorded anything, Jonathan and I would have a long talk not only about music, but about ourselves. This was key as musically and in other areas we were really in-sync with each other. Jonathan created some beautiful, lush texture to the song (he performs many things on the song, including the beautiful slide guitar and background vocals). I absolutely LOVE this song and the way it turned out. I hope when you listen to this song you can hear and feel that love too. When I was writing this song and others for my new album (the ten song album is called, Experience and comes out March 24th) I knew that while I was writing these songs from my own experiences, these themes in the songs are universal and something I hope many will connect with.
Thank-you for spending time with me hearing my story and my music.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the album here
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