Our nonprofit music program with Ryann Lecklider just concluded, three months after we released The Detours EP at Hemingway’s Lounge. Executive Producer Emily Hibard sat down with Ryann and asked her about her songwriting and music. Here’s what she had to say.
When you write a song, how much focus do you put on your intended audience?
When I am writing, I don’t focus so much on my audience, but rather on being honest. It’s really easy for me to “say the right thing” in order to get the reaction I’m looking for. In writing, I realize that makes me sound really manipulative 🙂 but I’m really just a people-pleaser at heart. To a degree, we all want to be liked, right? So, for the last year, as a new songwriter, I’m really trying to be honest. To share my story. The happy stuff and the hard stuff. To be real. I think that’s what people really connect with and look for in music. I think I’m getting better at it as I continue to write new material. I still find myself writing some lyrics because I think it sounds good or is cool… but then I’ll stop and ask myself what am I really trying to say? So far, my songs seem to be about breakthrough because that’s what I’m trying to do! To really come into my own. And I’m hoping that really connects with every type of audience.
How do you know when your song is done – it’s time to stop revising and put it down?
HA! I will let you know when I figure this out! So far, it’s really been about me running out of gas. I sort of edit as I write – I know, I know… some songwriters out there are cringing at that statement (apparently, this stifles creativity). But for me, it’s really tough to move to the next thought if I haven’t appropriately expressed what comes before it. Flow is really important to me. I’ve always written like this – even papers in school. Words have a rhythm to me, and if it’s not right, my brain won’t form a cohesive thought. Sometimes I will revisit a song after a long break and think I can make it better. Everything can always be better. But I guess I stop, for the most part, when I have all the pieces of the song (verses, chorus, bridge) and like them. But you never know… my stories could always be evolving.
How do you avoid using the same words/themes/rhymes/patterns when you write?
I listen to a lot of styles of music, so I’m inspired by a lot of different genres. I’m hoping that gives my songs enough variety, but, to be perfectly honest, I worry about them being too similar. But at the end of the day, I can only do what I am built to do, and I’m only as good as the team that surrounds me. So I made a serious effort to recruit incredible musicians – these people are professionals that I really respect and are inspired by. I hope these intentional choices are evident in the end result – some seriously great music.
Did you ever study songwriting formally?
Oh no. I went to the school of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. And Marc Broussard. And James Morrison. And Brooke Fraser. And Sara Bareilles. Sure, I grew up singing in choir at school and took one or two music theory classes in high school, but never any real, proven-by-a-diploma training. I’ve always thought a lot about the music I’ve been exposed to. The words written. The why behind it. The melody chosen. Whether it was intentional or an accident. I’ve always dissected music unconsciously. I read somewhere, and this is definitely the Ryann Paraphrase, that when you’re a new songwriter, it can be frustrating because you have really great taste but a skill-set in need of development. I grew up listening to music. All. The. Time. The pace of my footsteps would put a song in my head. I know what good music sounds like. I’m immersed in it. But I just haven’t learned how to create it well… yet. So I have to develop that skill set. Trust your taste. Work your songs. Just be honest, and they’ll get better.
The worst bit of advice?
I think it was completely unintentional, but someone once tried to pigeon-hole me into a particular genre. Maybe because of the way I sing or maybe it was because of the style this person leaned to. But suddenly my songs became too wordy or not in-line with a certain formula. I’m realizing now that music can be A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G! Artists are breaking rules now, and it’s working. The sky is the limit. I’m learning to trust myself more and to be okay with being vulnerable, with putting myself out there. That I don’t need a degree from a music conservatory to express what’s on the inside of me. What was there from the beginning. I really hope people like what they hear, but I have to be okay with some people not liking it. If I focus too much on being likable, then I’m ignoring the honesty part of it all. And I think that’s the most important thing in the end.
It was our pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with Ryann Lecklider! As a nonprofit organization offering free music recording services to artists, we get contacted by…um…lots of, we’ll say, interesting, types of artists. It has always been a goal of our program to identify artists that we believe, based on our core values, exhibits the most potential to succeed as a mainstream recording artist. Music isn’t just about the notes. Character, in addition to talent, is vital. As performers, artists are thrust into the spotlight, bearing all and setting themselves up for accolades, criticisms, etc. When artists do not have a strong character, the foundation of the music career is unsure. Ryann Lecklider has a solid foundation and the goods to go the distance with her music career.
Although our program with her has concluded, this won’t be the last time you hear about her. We’ll have her back at events, shows, etc. Continue to support Ryann by following her on Twitter , Liking her Facebook Page, and creeping her new website.
The best is yet to come for this up and coming Los Angeles-based singer / songwriter.