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Ryan Riback – he’s a really chill guy that does his own thing in big success volumes. A significant, quiet achiever in the game, Riback has one of the top 5 most streamed songs (of an Australian artist) in history, has a total of more than 1 billion streams and he is about to hit 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify!

Riback’ s latest track, Wrong’ was produced by Riback himself and co-written in collaboration with Olivia Noelle and Jon Hume. ‘Wrong’ is about reflecting on whether a past relationship was really worth ending. Perfectly fusing pop elements with an infectious mid-tempo club beat – this track is immediately recognisable.

🎼 Ash Lee chats with Ryan 🎼

Ash: Sometimes songwriter’s have to take liberties with the language or lyrics that they write in order to make a rhythm or rhyme work, the power of lyrics can alter the listener’s response to the tune being played… How does the song writing process work for you?

Ryan: I’m a melody guy, so I usually go melody first and then try fit words or phrases to them, and then build concepts from there.

Ash: How does the creative process differ for you when collaborating with other artists?

Ryan: It depends on the room. I think I’m quite flexible so if there is a more seasoned producer, or better top liner, I let them take the lead and just chime in when I need to. On my own I guess I just do what I feel.

Ash: Can you remember the first time music ever had an emotional affect on you? Can you name the song and artist and describe theemotional effects it had upon you at the time? Does it still influence you now in the same manner?

Ryan: The main one that sticks out is 2unlimited “No Limits”. I think it was the first time I had heard any electronic dance music and it was like something inside me said “that is the energy I want to feel”

Ash: oh my gosh Yes! <Ash Lee Sings> “let me hear you say YEAH…NO, NO, NO NO NO NO THERES NO LIMITS WE’LL REACH FOR THE SKY” <laughing> wow that brings back memories!

Ash: Musical tastes develop and progress as time goes by, if you could go back in time and live as a musician during a different era, which era would you choose?

Ryan: Tough one! As I get older I actually find myself gravitating towards 70’s and 80’s hits to listen to. So maybe the 80’s!

Ash: I would describe you as an enigmatic producer, an elusive and multi-faceted creative that has always been an artist with a forward-thinking vision – I use the terms enigmatic and elusive, not because I believe that you are difficult to interpret or define but rather that your creative interests, abilities, and pursuits are so varied – you have developed for yourself a multi-dimensional brand that, I feel, interweaves a wide spectrum of musical genres and conceptual ideas. Would you agree and can you describe for me the evolution of your journey through music?

Ryan: Haha, you hit the nail on the head I think 😉

My journey has been an interesting one for sure! I think growing up in apartheid South Africa, we weren’t really allowed to be exposed to a lot of culturally different music, so I missed the hip hop vibe when it was really popping globally. Dance music really broke through for me when I was younger so there has always been that influence. This is my journey after my parents exposed me to pop music. Going through the different genres of electronic music… starting with house, then onto hard house, funky house, electro house, trap, twerk, tropical house, pop and now back to house, but with pop sensibilities. All the time along the way, listening to everything from world music, to pop/rock ballads.

Ash: You describe yourself as a Music Producer, Remixer and DJ – I don’t want to offend any of our readers but I suspect there may be a few people out there who aren’t actually able to distinguish the difference/s between these titles….Could you please define them?

Ryan: A music producer (in my opinion) oversees the musical elements and direction of a song. They can either create the beats and instrumentation themselves, or direct others accordingly. A remixer is someone who takes another persons initial song / idea, and turns it into something with a different vibe. A DJ is the guy who yells “put your hands up” at the club, while playing other peoples music 😉

Ash: Let’s talk Samples versus Remixes…..A sample can consist of an existing song’s instrument/s pattern, vocals, or rhythms. Obviously, a sample can also involve of a combination of each. Whereas a remix is a track that’s taken portions of the actual audio recording from the original track. These are then used to create a new, creative song recording. So essentially, A remix is a song that has been edited to sound different from the original version….Samples are usually more associated with R&B and Remixing, for me, is definitely house beats, club, and dance….I would like to know what your opinion is regarding the use of samples versus remixing and can you please describe when/how/if you’ve used them in some of your recent releases?

Ryan: From my understanding, they are basically the same thing… it’s just the legal definitions around publishing when you use a “sample” (an entire piece of an original master record) as opposed to being willingly and legally given the parts of a song  to rework and create your own version around them.

Ash: In regards to sampling – some artists choose to sample recordings and others choose to sample from live instruments being played. It’s harder to do the latter but, do you think it is worthwhile in terms of increasing the originality of the recording that you plan to use the sample in? Have you ever done this?

Ryan: Can’t say I’ve done the latter, but in terms of creativity… there are no right or wrong ways to do anything.

Ash: How do your skills as a Music Producer, Remixer, and DJ overlap or compliment each other when you’re working on creative content for yourself/others?

Ryan: Playing in clubs over the years has exposed me to a lot of underground music and artists that have some amazing talent creatively. I try to bring some of that into pop land, and vice versa. Bring the pop sensibilities to the dancefloor.

Ash: What kind of set-up do you have in terms of the production, remixing, and DJ equipment that you use?

Ryan: I’m running everything through my Macbook Pro and using a UAD apollo sound card to connect to the speakers and mic. Everything now is software based (apart from my midi keyboard). For DJing at home I have a Pioneer XDJ-RX2, but use the clubs setup when on the road.

Ash: Is there a specific reason you use this equipment – is it because of quality, familiarity, 

Ryan: No reason, just a natural evolution I guess. Also the producer everything on the laptop setup helps when I have to be mobile!

Ash: Do you work with synthesisers? To make synthesisers sound more like real instruments, you need to add several pure tones together in order to produce more complicated combinations – I don’t necessarily believe that the beats driving mixes need to have an authentic sound that resembles an instrument – I find inspiration for the musicality of sounds from many different sources…incidental sounds that I hear during every day life, for example…where do you derive inspiration from for sounds that you can produce and mix?

Ryan: I use software based synths, no hardware. And honestly… I have no idea. Lol. I think if it sounds good and makes my brain go “hey that’s interesting”, then I usually try to incorporate it.

Ash: I’ve found that many people seem to think that “electronic music” was born in the 1990’s and onwards and I find this so frustrating because, actually, the Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer was invented c. 1890, artists were using Theremin’s to create spooky electronic sounds back in the 1920’s, there’s the Ondes Martenot from 1928, the Trautonium from 1929, Raymond Scott’s Clavivox from 1956 and then of course, there’s the Moog synthesiser – THE instrument of the 1960’sand let’s not forget about the cinematic use of remixing for film scores…Have you been influenced by any musicians from the 1960’s/70’s or earlier? Who were they and how did they influence you?

Ryan: I can’t think of anyone specific… I was always the “song guy” rather than the “artist guy”, so songs that stood out to me were Chariots of Fire and anything by Giorgio Moroder.

Ash: How about the creation of remixes that have cinematic/film and television/gaming/advertising aptitudes? Is that an area of music production that interests you?

Ryan: Totally! Thinking of music in a different headspace and for different audiences is a welcome challenge!

Ash: You have an impressive list of artists that you have collaborated with, I’m sure you’ve met some interesting people – do you have any standouts/memorable experiences that you’d like to share?

Ryan: Nothing that stands out, but the best experiences are the ones where I connected on a personal level… usually over a stupid joke or common love of music.

Ash: Is there anyone that was particularly difficult to work with?

Ryan: Luckily I have had no bad studio writing sessions. But via the internet and email… there have been a few “tricky” cases 😉

Ash: 2020 has been a difficult time for many artists and I have noticed a lot of people struggling to adapt to the impacts upon their methods for the production of music. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some amazing live streams and many bands have found ways to rehearse and record via online platforms however a lot of them haven’t. Do you have any advice for those who are struggling?

Ryan: If you love it, you’ll find a way. You can literally Google how to do anything these days!

Ash: There has an extremely disappointing lack of governmental acknowledgement for the global economic value of music and the creative industries, especially in Australia. What is your opinion regarding this?

Ryan: It hasn’t affected me personally too much, so I can’t really say.

Ash: If you could change something about the music industry, what would you change and why?

Ryan: It is what it is… you can either fight it or go with the flow. I choose the latter.

Ash: What would you like your legacy as a musician and as a human being to be?

Ryan: Just someone who made people feel good through his music and bad jokes.

Ash: What’s the most useful advice you’ve ever received?  

Ryan: Do what makes you happy..

Ash: Ok, let’s talk conspiracy theories….I don’t know you’ve ever watched any of the Ancient Aliens DVD’s etc? I’ve watched a fair few and there are some pretty interesting theories in these…some are a tad outlandish but hmm…others do make me wonder about certain things. What are your favourite conspiracy theories?

Ryan: Ooooofff! Don’t get me started! I have heard many crazy things over the years. Aliens are for sure up there. I used to get real caught up in it all, but now I just like to keep my ear to the ground just in case something happens 😉

Ash: Alright, this is my last official question: If you could interview any living person, who would you choose?

Ryan: Possibly Jim Carrey… or Keanu Reeves. I would love to know how their minds work!

Ash: Thanks again for getting in touch to have a chat – I’m looking forward to seeing what your next move is!


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