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Interview: Ryland Bouchard

 

Ryland; first of all I must say that this whole thing makes me so excited! First questions from ‘The Robot Ate Me’ years… They Ate Themselves and On Vacation both had tender vocals of you, but also quite powerful and provacative lyrics and stories. If we consider the world we are living in, it might be a unique defense mechanism or a perfect way to communicate with “others”. Did you always have this within you or did you just learn it? If you got it afterwards, how did it happen?

Hello Emre, thank you for writing – it is nice being in touch with someone from Turkey. When I was young I certainly had no capability to write music, but with age it comes naturally without any thought – I really do not know how any of it happens. It’s spiritual and magical when songs find me – it’s not something I create – if that makes sense?

Especially in these albums you have a very cinematic sound. The songs adresse not only the ears, you (the listeners) also see the songs! What is the secret of making such powerful songs?

Well, I wish I knew – it is important to listen closely to your soul and be honest with yourself in everything you do. Songs can die if you try to force things upon them that aren’t appropriate or they can be transformed into something really moving with the right arrangements. I wish there was a “secret”, but I suppose the “secret” is seeking out something beautiful and honest while at the same time trying to stay true to yourself and not trying to become something you aren’t.

Following the previous question; how are you with the cinema itself? Are you planning to make short videos? You know, some young cinema students dying to use your songs in their films:) <referring to our first dialogue in 2007 here…)

I did quite a few videos on Super 8 film for the “Seeds” and “Cowbirds and Cuckoos” release, and a long time ago did videos for “On Vacation” with found film footage from the early 1900′s. I love the texture of film – I have never really gotten into the way digital media looks - it seems fake to me for some reason. The imperfections of film seem to make it more real – although you would normally expect the opposite. Film to me looks like memories do.

For me, Carousel Waltz is still one of the best albums on love, ever. What is the place of this album among others for you? How would you define it?..

At the time I was listening to “Pet Sounds” on repeat – an album which I really admire – and “Carousel Waltz” was largely influenced by the that record. I was living in San Diego, California at the time, unemployed and would go to the beach everyday and then come home and record music. Meanwhile my mother had been suffering from mental health issues and my aunt passed away from ovarian cancer – so ”Carousel Waltz” was my effort to remain positive despite the sadness in my life at that time. I still am surprised when I hear it, I definitely think it is more timeless of a record than I thought it would be during the recording process.

And after The Robot Ate Me… You were known as “The Robot Ate Me”, why did you change your mind and what has changed since then? Within you and in your music?

Well I was working on the material for “Seeds” and just felt the music would be better served if it was released under my own name – I don’t know why but it seemed like the right thing to do at that time. My music has always been that of personal exploration and not a money making venture so I suppose it had something to do with that ideal.

In ‘Better This Than Nothing EP’, you are closer to electronic sounds more than ever. You are always trying new things, but the spirit of your music remains…

This last year I was introduced to Talk Talk and the work of Mark Hollis – especially the album “Sprit of Eden” which I think is a work of genius. Lately I’ve been interested in using silence and quiet harmonics to build a recording – as opposed to more deliberate arrangements like horns or strings. But normally when I start work on a record it takes a life of its own and I have no control over the results.

Your songs are downloadable on your website- at the same time, available for sale on vinyl and digital. Radiohead tried something similiar before In Rainbows. What do you think about the music industry’s present situation? Plus, do you think that you reach enough people? Or, actually, do you have such concerns anyway?

Oh, the music industry is complicated and whenever I think about it I want to stop being involved with it completely. The beautiful thing about music is how it can transcend time, space, and language and turn emptiness into an emotion. Once you start turning something like that into a business it becomes a very terrifying and depressing venture. These days I make almost nothing off of music financially but I find ways to eat and be healthy. I’d rather be poor and make the music I care about than be wealthy under the contract of some terrible record label.

Will try to ask this in a very direct way… From my point of view, USA is one of the biggest actors of today’s chaos. And there is a belief like “If USA is in, then something must be wrong”. I once wrote something which referred people like you and many others and said “There are nice guys even in the USA”. Sorry for being a bit offensive, but how do you see your own country? It seems a cliche question, but when it comes to someone who made songs like Genocide Ball, Crispy Christian Tea Time or Jesus&Hitler, it sounds just on target…

The USA is in a very dangerous position right now, and after traveling so much with music it has become clear that our standard of living has declined rapidly compared to other developed nations over the last 20-30 years. Our unemployment rate is from 10-30% depending on the state and calculation, there is no health care, education is poor, crime is high, infrastructure and public transportation is deteriorating – but still we take on ridiculous wars and burn our bridges politically. The USA is on a decline and I do not think we have seen the worst of what that will mean on an international level. I worry everyday about the future of the USA and how that will affect the world. It makes me very sad to see my country act in such a terrible and aggressive ways toward other nations and then abuse its own citizens so brazenly.

And how do you see Turkey from the other side of the planet? You can feel free to say whatever you think; remember my words on the US:) You can’t predict my “nicest” thoughts on my own country anyway!! Let’s say, “There are nice guys even in Turkey”:)

I just finished reading the old book “Candide” by Voltaire where the main character retires with a farm in Turkey and decides that gardening is the best possible way a man can spend his life – so your question comes at a good time. To be honest, most Americans probably do not know where Turkey is and couldn’t tell you anything other than thinking it was a third world country. A friend of mine just moved to Poland for work from the USA and her parents insisted that she was going to end up a sex slave in the “Soviet Union” – if that gives you any idea how “normal” Americans view the rest of the world. I have never been to Turkey so I wouldn’t make any judgement – but from what I’ve read it seems like a great climate for farming and everyone I have met from Turkey has been very nice. Politics is difficult because once any country becomes powerful they become proportionately more corrupt.

Did you know that Youtube was banned in Turkey for a while? And Vimeo’s just been banned in recent days… Maybe this info changes your previous response:)

I wonder if they are trying to minimize the influence of western culture or in particular the USA? It’s sad that in modern times the lengths governments go to to brainwash and manipulate the thoughts of their respective populations. Frightening that any democratic nation would ban particular and mostly harmless websites just to try and keep information from spreading easily.

You told me that you would be in the East Europe by the spring. Could you tell us about your tour? And if Turkey’s included? If not, here’s the offer!

I was definitely planning on coming to Turkey on this next tour – the farthest I went East last year was Serbia and Hungary – but have plans to play some shows in Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey if possible. Lets stay in touch and make sure it happens! Thanks so much for your questions and time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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