Interview: Ryan Beaver

CIfYMDlaMZjUjVCaMC9ylfs-kN9LvwPDzNIQzPoYqt0Ryan Beaver.  The up-and-coming artist, who was born and raised in Texas, found passion in songwriting at an early age, but never told anyone.  In college, he worked up the courage to play in public, landing his first recurring gig at a wine store, serenading patrons during wine tastings.  Even though he mostly played cover songs in his performances, Beaver would sneak in original songs in every now and again to gauge the crowd’s response.  it was a good one.

Over time, he moved to Austin, put a band together, bought a van and a trailer, and traveled the highways playing 140 gigs a year. After being offered a job as a staff writer in Nashville, Beaver decided it was time to move to the center of the country music universe. “The best singers and writers I know live in Nashville, and that was a gravitational pull in itself,” he recalls.

He admits that while writing for others has stretched him creatively, it’s given him the chance to really explore what kinds of songs suit him best as an artist; now, Beaver has recorded an album he hopes to release early next year, and has unleashed “Dark”, his formidable force of a single on the world.

“It started with a conversation about how people are afraid to talk about tough times, but that’s what country music is all about.  I hadn’t heard much of that lately, I’ve only been hearing good-time feel-good songs, but there’s nothing wrong with that,” Beaver says.  “I didn’t even see ‘Dark’ coming.  I’d been through a couple of years that felt like I had a big raincloud over me, I lost people who were close to me, and I was trying to figure out how to accept that.  I was trying to make sense of the world.”   A close friend and bandmate had been struck and killed by a drunk driver; shortly thereafter, his grandfather was involved in a fatal plane crash.  The hardship eventually took its toll on his other relationships.  While talking about his troubles proved a difficult task, he turned to songwriting to express his feelings   “I’m terrible at talking, but if you give me a 3 1/2 minute song, I can usually get my point across,” he says.

With the help of others, Beaver says that “Dark” just kind of wrote itself. “I wanted the song to be uplifting, to have heart and a message.  We came up with the hook, ‘I ain’t afraid of the dark’, which was great, every kid knows what that means, and at the end of the day, I still feel like a kid trying to be a grown-up,” he says with a laugh.  “The song even sounds like tough times, like a storm.  Lyrically, it has a story that sort of reflects mine.  The power of music, that’s why we show up and do it. It was important for me to get this song out.”

Beaver cites a number of influences in various genres, mostly gifted storytelling songwriters, but considers his music “country” at its roots. “I’ve always been drawn to roots rock, country, folk, and blues.  It’s all tied into these songs.  Growing up in a little town, when you hear about dirt roads and pasture parties, that’s exactly how I grew up, but I’ve never felt the need to shout about just how country I am from the top of a mountain,” he says.  “It’s part of who I am, but it’s bigger than that.”

Writing the songs for his album was a cathartic process for him, and he pushed himself to be uncomfortably honest.  He believes that the discomfort is well worth it if listeners are able to relate to what he has to say.  “You have to put yourself in the music, you can’t just write fluff.  You have to put the way you see the world in the music,” he declares.  “If you write about the truth, it’s hard for people to argue with that.”

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Susan Hubbard

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