The career of Ryan Farish is a long and storied one. The Virginia native studied music at Old Dominon and UCLA and around the turn of the century began making his music public via the now defunct mp3.com. He crafted a loyal following to the tune of nearly 2 million downloads and 2004 saw the release of Farish’s breakthrough album, Beautiful, on the EMI imprint.
The next years saw a consistent string of releases from Ryan Farish along with the establishment of his own brand, Rytone Entertainment. His career took a unique turn when The Weather Channel had picked up on his soothing sounds and began using his music during their programming, even calling on Farish to compose the theme for their Storm Series.
Just recently, Dance and Rave caught up with Ryan Farish for the latest installment in our Artist Profile series:
Hey Ryan, thanks for taking the time to chat with us!
Hello, and thank you, it’s my pleasure.
Why don’t we start by getting a little bit of background info. You were born in Virginia, right? When did you first get in to music?
I was born in Norfolk, VA. My mother is also a pianist, and was a music teacher, so music was always around the home growing up.
Did you have any musical trainings growing up? Instrumental, singing, etc.
Yes, the first instrument I learned to play was the violin, when I was four. I can remember being so small that my first few lessons were on a frozen pea box with a ruler taped to it, just so I could learn the proper posture to hold a violin under my chin. I can still remember the first song I ever composed from the piano when I was probably about 7 years old.
You’ve been producing music for quite a while now, but do remember when you first start producing electronic music?
Yes, it was around 2000. I began sequencing my music on a KORG. In the beginning I was really trying to make my sequences sound like the music I loved, and I can remember a friend always telling me that he could tell it was me. At first, I thought that was bad, but later realized that having an unavoidable, unmistakable sound is really key to having a career as an artist.
One of the Ryan Farish ‘claims to fame’ is the huge number of sales garnered on mp3.com when it was at its peak. How vastly different was your promo strategy vs today’s social media age?
Well, on mp3.com it wasn’t as much about sales as it was downloads. Sure, you could sell your music, but I chose to give it away. My thought was to give it away first, to see if anyone would even want it. There really wasn’t a promo strategy, but there were charts on the site. I continued to make songs, and upload them as I went.
Over time, some of my songs made it onto the top download charts which gave my music exposure on the site. That eventually had a snowball effect on the site, and that is how my music was downloaded over 1,800,000 times. I really don’t think my music could have reached that many people if I had not been giving it away, and consistently putting out fresh new material.
Do you remember when you were first approached by the weather channel for the right to use your music in their programming?
The first time I worked with TWC was when I was called to compose the theme song to a show they were working on called “Storm Stories”. One of my friends from High School was a graphic designer at TWC at that time, and she passed along my music to their production dept.
Eventually that led to their music programmer getting my music on a CD on his desk… he listened, and for over 10 years I got a lot of rotation because I was told that TWC fans would call in and request more of my songs if they ever took too many of my songs out of their rotation. Was really cool when I was asked to burn some cds for one of their main on camera personalities Jim Cantore, whom I was told really enjoyed my music.
What do you find to be the hardest part about running your own record label?
Time. The work is really never ending. There’s always something to do, something to register, something to copyright, artwork to create, songs to get mastered, etc.
You’ve described your sound as ‘Positive Chillout’. In your mind, what does that mean to you?
Early on before chillout was really a recognized genre, or sub genre of Electronic Music, people would ask me what “genre” is my music. Since most of my music has uplifting melodies or qualities to it, I thought “Positve Chillout” would be the best way to describe it.
It’s really special for me now because I have seen other artists use this as their genre, and in fact there was even a popular YouTube channel that named their channel Positive Chillout, who uploaded many of my songs along with some other great material that fit the “Postive Chillout” sound. It’s flattering to see that name starting to stick.
Tell us about your most recent album, what does the LP’s title, Primary Colors, represent?
My latest album, ‘Primary Colors’ (Black Hole Recordings) title to me, represents the fundamental colors, tones and feelings that music gives us.
You’ve said you see Primary Colors in three stages, could you elaborate on that a little more?
Sure, for me I feel like there are three distinct vibes on the album. There’s the downtempo, the ambient, and the trance. Each of the songs on this album really fits into one of those three vibes.
Did you have a favorite track off the album?
Yes, “Endless Summer”. This was an interesting track for me because it really was unique, and unlike any of the other songs on the album. So much so, that I actually debated including it on the album. But I did, because I just loved it so much. The interesting thing, is that first week into the release the feedback showed that “Endless Summer” is the most popular, most streamed track on the album.
I’m glad it made the cut!
This was also your second LP of the year, so certainly you’ve remained busy in the studio. What’s a typical day of producing like for you usually?
My studio time is really divided into four phases. I do a lot of sound design separately, creating patches, samples and sounds that I will later incorporate into a song. Then there’s the composition phase, the mixing phase which is done in parallel to the production, and then there’s the final mixing/mastering or Pre Mastering phase.
What sorts of hobbies do you have outside of dance music?
I ride a motorcycle, and I also love to ride my electric skateboard as much as I can. I enjoy getting outside and getting out of the studio to soak up the inspiration that I get outdoors, and from just riding away in the wind.
Who are some of your favorite artists at the current moment?
Bonobo, Seven Lions, Above & Beyond, Tycho, M83, and Illenium.
What do you have planned for the upcoming holidays?
Spending time with my family. Our daughter just turned 18 months, so this will be a very special Holiday season for our family.
That’s all for us, Ryan! We thoroughly enjoyed the chat and hope you have an excellent holiday.
Thanks for the great questions, it was a pleasure.