Ryan Rei is, first and foremost, a storyteller. His musical endeavors first began at a young age in his hometown of Spring, Texas and have throughout the years evolved into several sprawling narratives of his personal life.
Rei’s work yields a glimpse into the very intimate emotional turmoil of love found, lost, and found again, friendships come and gone, and callings that don't call back, to name a few. His intricate yet familiar melodies and warm vocals, whether serene or biting, call to his listeners with a sense of understanding and a desire to connect through his honest, uncensored musical delivery.
Websites or Social Media Pages:
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
My music has a little bit of everything in it, so I've always had difficulty subscribing to a specific genre. The closest thing I could say would be alternative folk, but my songs don't sound folky enough to be true folk. The most important thing about my music is it has to tell a story, and the over story being told in an album is clear from start to finish. So, I guess singer/songwriter comes into play here as well.
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
So my first name is Ryan. The name Rei is Spanish for king. The name Ryan Rei was my wife's idea and it rolled off the tongue really well. It clicked and I've rolled with it ever since.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
My main influence right now is Car Seat Headrest. I discovered the band in 2016, and when I get really into a band, I have to listen to their entire discography. Although Car seat is a band now, it was initially a project by the front man of the band, Will Toledo. Listening to his story telling in Twin Fantasy and Monomania was a big influence on how I structure my work and stories. It also inspired me that I could go out of my way and produce work on my own, which is what he did. So that is probably the biggest influence on my sound as of now.
Some other big influences are Brian Wilson, The Strokes, and The Beatles. Brian Wilson was huge for me when I began to write songs of my own. I got really into Pet Sounds, and listening to his bootleg Smile sessions. Hearing the stuff he did on those albums was huge for my songwriting process. I'll always love The Strokes. They're just fun. Same for the Beatles, and how they changed their sound from the beginning to the end of their recording days.
Honorable mentions are girl in red, and St. Vincent.
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
I just completed my first full length album titled, Venom. It dropped in September and is on Spotify. The album is about a relationship I was in during 2013. It describes the buildup and fallout of said relationship. When I initially began to take my music seriously, I knew this was the first story I wanted to tell. It's an album I am really proud of, so you should go and check it out on Spotify for sure!
As for what's coming up, I am in the very early stages of planning the follow up album to Venom. The title of that is going to be Antidote. It's a long way off because I'm mainly focusing on the release of Venom at the moment.
I'll also probably drop an EP in between. I have to constantly be working on a project.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
My ultimate goal is to relate music people can relate to. Music that people can listen to and identify with. It's what gets me as a listener to other songs where I can take the subject of that song and apply it directly to a situation I've had in my life. So just to get that music out there and listened to is my main goal. Anything else is extra after that.
I also want to tour and play shows. I love playing live for crowds, and just being able to travel around and play live has always been a dream of mine.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
My favorite track to play live is Cat and Mouse, which is a song that appears on the album Venom. Cat and Mouse was my first attempt to summarize the relationship, and what came out was such a fun experience. It starts out slow and let's me get my feel before it picks up right at the chorus. The chorus is always more intense when playing it live, and allows me to really get into it. It's easily a song that will have a home at every set list I play.
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
Probably just the getting recognition. The music industry is full of so much talent, it's very hard for someone to break into it without knowing people. You have to be prepared to invest heavily in your career if you want to take it seriously.
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
I normally write my lyrics first. I'll focus on an idea and write something around the idea. I'll go back and tinker with it from time to time. Then I'll attach some chord progressions to the song. Sometimes it happens in the opposite way, where I have a progression I really like but then the lyrics come later. I've actually found that doing the music first comes up with the better song. Not to say that writing lyrics first isn't bad either. But it's fun to build up an idea with some unknown first.
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
Social media is huge. I am most active on my instagram account (@ryanreiiguess) where I can interact with my followers. It's really cool seeing people reach out and giving you praise for your art. Most of my announcements and promotion comes through instagram, and it also helps being able to scroll through and look at what other people are working on.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
I've been hella into girl in red's chapter two EP she just dropped. Bad Idea is such a fun song, I listen to it a lot. I've been listening to a lot of Sleater Kinney recently as well. Call the doctor is my favorite album by them, but they have great stuff all around their discography. I haven't had a chance to listen to their latest release.
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I was a teacher, went to college to get my degree and everything. I did my first year and realized it wasn't for me. I stayed in a couple more years, but my focus shifted more to music as time went on. Teaching is a great profession, but a lot has to change and how the job is handled starting first and foremost with the pay.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
Don't let your dreams be dreams. Don't stop, even if it doesn't work the first time.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?:
I'd probably make it easier for artist to get into the industry. But I say that as someone who is in this position right now. Oof
How Do You Feel About Originality?
It's important to have things about yourself that make you stand out compared to other artist. If you go in saying you're going to be the next X or Y, you're cheating yourself of making a real impact. Instead of me saying I'm gonna be the next CSH, instead I tell myself I'm going to be Ryan Rei. That's just who I am.
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
I'm currently writing this while my city is underwater! If you guessed that I'm from Houston, you'd be right! Houston is a great city, and I'm proud to call it home, but please stop raining.