Ryan Playground talks debut sound

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Ryan Playground — or Genevieve Ryan, off-stage — is a Montreal-based producer and vocalist who released her debut album, “Elle,” Feb. 26, showcasing a massive array of sounds and electronic dreamscapes. 

Her stage name reflects these experimental auditory adventures because, according to Ryan, music is the place she goes to play for hours. It is the one thing she has never gotten tired of doing, she said.

The eight tracks on Ryan’s debut album are reminiscent of producers like Flying Lotus, Animal Collective and ODESZA, who incorporate dance, jazz and a collection of eclectic noises and tones to create unique, otherworldly music. 

Ryan spoke with The News Record about her newly released album, the way she goes about creating music and her inspirations and side projects. 

The News Record: Do you produce your own music and do the vocals?

Ryan Playground: Yes, I do both. The track “Folders” was produced by Ryan Hemsworth and I co-produced “Used To Be Cold” with Thomas White. The six others are all me.

TNR: I am really curious about your process. You have such a wide variety of sounds in your music, and you have a way of balancing these huge, vibrating waves of sound with minute, specific sounds.

RP: I love to combine soft and airy sounds with more aggressive crisp sounds. I think this duality describes my music well. I guess it’s also a way to express the highs and lows in everyday life. 

But, yeah, each time I do a song I can’t really predict what kind of sounds I’ll end up combining together. I go with the flow and when a sounds gets me I build around it. 

TNR: Where do you start when you create a song? What do you look like in full on music-making mode? 

RP: I very rarely start with sounds I’ve already used. I always search for new sounds and weird noises that will get me started. Then, I build around a main melody and top it with vocals. It depends time to time, but usually that’s how I proceed.

Full music-making mode definitely makes me look a little autistic. Sometimes, when it’s been a long while and I’ve been working in my bubble on something, I find it hard to come back to normal social life and have a normal conversation. 

TNR: Where do you find inspiration for the sounds that you use? Do you record some of those yourself, like the rain sample throughout "Are You Mad”? 

RP: It’s often just random ideas that pop in my mind or, like, a sound I hear somewhere or in a song that makes me think of another sound and makes me think of another, and so on. 

I did record the rain for “Are You Mad.” It just happened that I was recording vocals on a rainy day and all this moody ambiance was really fitting the song. 

TNR: Where do you usually create music? What does that space look like? 

RP: When I’m lazy and comfy, on my couch in my living room. It’s facing a window, so I like to pause and just look outside. I'm a little bit of a lunatic and I like it. 

Otherwise, in my office where there’s my microphone and speakers. It’s a pretty normal looking space with white walls and some souvenirs all around. 

TNR: The Kendrick Lamar cover you released on Soundcloud is really cool. What led you to cover that song? And, do you know if he has heard your version? 

I did the instrumental and then I was subconsciously singing, “B**** Don’t Kill My Vibe” over it. It was just an illumination I guess. I don’t know if he heard it. 

TNR: Do you have any sacred albums? 

All my childhood albums are pretty sacred — Blink 182, Sum 41, Gob, MXPX, Big Shiny Tunes, 123 Punk and the list goes on. All of those inspired me to do my own songs. 

These days I'm inspired by, like, James Blake, the new Charli XCX and Sophie EP and I'm really into this new rapper, Lil Yachty. 

TNR: What do you think are the next steps for you as an artist? And, is there any place you have always wanted to play your music? 

I need to build up and practice my live set. I would love to go to Asia. I love Asian food, in general, and the energy just seems crazy.