EMURG’s Interview with Ryan Star

He’s been given the title, “The alt-rock Frank Ocean”, with his music being featured in countless hit films and on popular TV shows such as P.S. I Love You and The Vampire Diaries. Musician Ryan Star is not your average musician with his previous album 11:59 coming in at number ten on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums. As a follow up to this highly successful album, Ryan Star is proving that he is a force in the music industry that is setting a precedent as to how listeners should experience music with his newest album ANGELS + ANIMALS. EMURG recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ryan to find out who he is as an artist and his recent album release.

EMURG: For those who may not know you, do you mind giving us a little background about who you are as an artist?

Star: I started a rock band called STAGE when I was 14, slept with Madonna and got a record deal just out of college, but then she sold the label so we broke up. I have been on radio and TV but I am more proud to say I just released my 3rd solo album ANGELS + ANIMALS and it is a true album from beginning to end.  It’s a story that I am really proud of!

EMURG:  You have been dubbed, “The alt-rock Frank Ocean”. How does it feel to have this perception bestowed upon you as an artist? Do you feel like it sets you apart from other artists in the music industry?

Star: I feel that is a really accurate observation of what I am doing these days.  Very stream of consciousness and story telling at the same time, while surrounded by some really aggressive sounds by me and my touring band.

We went deep on this one.  Inspired by Bon Iver and James Blake, all the way to my Pearl Jam and Tori Amos roots.

The best part is when I took my basic piano song writing demos from my Brooklyn apartment, we went to a studio upstate where my favorite local band THE NATIONAL had just finished recording.  I knew it was gonna be a magical journey.  They left what looked like a vase that smelled like a skunk behind for us – that helped too.


EMURG: Your newest album ANGELS + ANIMALS finds you at the top of your game in which listeners are taken on a musical journey. What is the main theme of this album and how does it connect with listeners?

Star: ANGELS + ANIMALS is a heroes journey.  It absolutely takes you on a ride, but overall I really think it is simply about growing up.  The film fan in me would like to think it’s Cast Away meets What Dreams May Come, with a side of Risky Business. I think it connects with anyone who is alive and finding their way in their life.  The idea is that we are all fighting a battle within– we are all a little bit angel and a little bit animal.  It is the human condition.

EMURG: What was the process like recording and what inspirations did you draw upon for the lyrical content of this album?

Star: I never received more concerned phone calls and letters from friends and family than on this album.  Along with shaving my head in the middle of my vocal take for a song called SPACEMAN FUGITIVE, I was just so transparent and truthful on this one.  It feels good and I feel clear now. The lyrical content is just so truthful that I believe that is why it connects.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel people put themselves out there like that so much anymore.  Well, except for LMFAO cause they definitely know they are sexy. I like that.  Oh, and I always knew Katy Perry had the eye of the tiger.  I also enjoy Kesha too.  For me, that whole scene is modern POP ART (much like Warhol was) and I like that.

EMURG: Who inspired you to become the musician you are today?

Star: I played the sax when I was younger.  I loved it and probably would have been the next Kenny G.! Then, I heard Pearl Jam for the first time and started my band STAGE the very next day.

EMURG: What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of being a musician?

Star: Getting to say are we gonna “play” today when referring to “work”.

EMURG: What are you currently listening to?

Star: I’ve been listening to wide collection of music that includes: Chvrches, Ghost Beach, Animals Years, and Bon Iver.

EMURG: What is the best piece of advice that you can give to any up and coming artist or band? What is the one thing that you wish that someone would have told you before entering the music business?

Star: When I entered the music business,  Joan Jetts manager told me that the music business is one step above the porn business (totally didn’t scare off a young boy the way he might have thought it would). I would say since that time, the porn business has become incredibly profitable and legit so I guess I would have to tell a kid it fell a notch. Maybe try photography?

I just came from SXSW and realized once again how many artists are out there doing music. Its simple.  JUST DO YOU. The truth is we have all heard this and it still doesn’t hit you until you go through it.  Get on the ride and enjoy your journey.  It is yours.

Oh, and don’t eat the deli meats backstage- they have probably been out since last nights show.

EMURG: What are your current views on the music industry of today?

Star: I wish people would listen with their ears and not their eyes sometimes.

EMURG: In your opinion, what is the one thing that is missing in music today?

Star: I don’t want to be the guy who points out the problems.  It is music– to some it is ART and to some it is BUSINESS.

That is what will always be wrong and right about music today.  Sometimes I wish we were in caveman times, and I could just be the musician around the fire– inspiring, giving hope, eating the good meat, and getting all the cave groupies.

EMURG: What do have to look forward to from you in the year 2014?

Star: This is the year of creation for me.  I have some side projects in the works and am even composing the music for an indie film called HARD SELL.

EMURG: What do you want to leave behind as a musician for future generations?

Star: ANGELS + ANIMALS, I really feel there is a lot there when you take the time to listen to its truth.  Might be a few years from now, but I encourage people to put headphones on, light some incense and just close your eyes and listen.