Ryan Schmidt News

Redstar Union Session

I recently performed a set at Cambridge’s newest venue, Redstar Union and am so excited to share some video from the evening. Here is “White Horse”.

White Horse Press

I wanted to share two nice reviews of the “White Horse” EP that you might have missed. Thank you Daykamp Music and Muse-ically Inclined. You should seriously check out these sites, they have turned me on to some really cool new music.

Daykamp music: CLICK HERE

Muse-ically Inclined: CLICK HERE

The “White Horse” Cover

The White Horse isn’t literally a horse, it’s an illusion made by the ocean. It is wave that is blown by the wind so its crest is broken and appears white. But once I started calling it a White Horse wave, I couldn’t divorce the two interpretations. The artwork, a stunning picture by Toronto photographer Andrew Barrow, was eerily close to my vision.

“This ‘horse wave’ happened in 2009 during one of the strongest winds to hit the North shore of Lake Ontario for some years. The wave was against a pretty neutral sky so the Image quality of the shot has been sacrificed in order to bring out the subject but the actual wave formation, clearly in the shape of a horse, is not photoshopped at all. The head, nose, neck and mane are clear but if you look closely you can also see the hind quarters and what looks like front legs trying to break free from the surf.”

The “White Horse” EP is available for download at BandCamp, iTunes, and for streaming at Spotify.

The White Horse Story

Where “Black Sheep, Run” was a broader commentary with a wide dynamic range, “White Horse” was for me, deeply introspective and meant to showcase the songwriting through sparse instrumentation.

At one point, the four songs chosen for the project lived in a metaphorical no man’s land . They were either too down-tempo to perform live, or too lyrical to fit on my indie-pop records. Eventually these four found their own place as songs that translated well on the acoustic guitar. This project exists out of my desire to share this other side of my songwriting and bridge the gap between “BS,R” and my next full length that I’ve only just begun conceptualizing.

“White Horse” is a batch of songs that I can play live as a solo musician that feel complete. Playing full band is something that I’d love to do more of to fully highlight what we were able to achieve on “Black Sheep, Run”, but logistically it’s not practical for me right now. Especially on the road.

This project was a great learning experience for me. For starters, with the studio dates coinciding with the birth of “Black Sheep, Run” producer Ed Valauskas’ daughter, I got to make production choices on my own. He will certainly reclaim that role on my next album. It was also an opportunity to work with some friends of mine for the first time. Paula Kelley provided a gorgeous string arrangement for “White Horse” and was able to accentuate the baroque and classical references I was trying to make. That arrangement came to life thanks to Aaron Tap at QuailTop Studios in LA. Let’s not forget new friends that lent their talents – Chris Barrett (Piano on “You Answered Me”) and Tim Gearan (harmonies on “November 15).

The support thus far for “White Horse” has been really encouraging and validating in a very new, unexpected and humbling way. My performances on this EP were recorded in one day at Q Division Studios. I feel this is a good representation of who I am as an artist and a performer at this time.

“Black Sheep, Run” featured on Muse-ically Inclined

“The first thing I notice about this album is that it doesn’t sound like your typical “singer/songwriter” fare.” read the entire review HERE

Boston Music Spotlight Feature

Boston Music Spotlight featured me and my Sunday night show at Radio with Micah and Rhianna Larocque, 379-381 Somerville Ave, Somerville MA $5 21+ Doors at 8PM. Read it HERE

Golden Owl(s): The Story of My One Night Band Part II

Photo By Joshua Pickering

At this point we had our band members, band name, band picture and were off to our practice space (Oranjuly’s space over at Sound Museum Brighton).

Being a solo act, rehearsal spaces aren’t typically a part of my process but ONB gave me a reason to break away from my tendencies. For example, I have this awesome Fender Mexican Fat Strat that I got for my twelfth birthday, it was my first guitar. At one point it helped me “shred” Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets” and Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love” but for as long as I’ve been the acoustic dude (2004ish), it has sat in its gig bag in a neglected corner under my bed among dust bunnies. Saturday was different, it forced me to use this guitar once again and fall back in love with it.

Another departure for me was the group writing. Despite our deadline, our songwriting process happened pretty organically. Evan had the idea of making our set an homage to William Shatner and Star Trek. That theme was the building blocks for “Name Your Own Price”, “Vulcan Girl”, “Beam Me Up Scotty” and Leonard Nimoy’s version of “If I Had A Hammer”. So we worked through it there in that sweaty rehearsal space with some ideas and a few beers. “I’ve never appreciated Bud Light more than I do right now,” Aaron said. I’m pretty sure we all shared those sentiments.

Speaking of Aaron, this dude is a total badass. Really creative parts and tones. During the share any ideas phase he busted out this cool keys part in 6/4. It had this great overdriven Rhodes tone and an undeniable groove. After some funky bass and drums from John and Lou, a little more structure and some vowel singing by me, we had the basis for “Vulcan Girl”.

From there we banged out our other songs, contemplated our stage outfits (gold sequin suits were mentioned but later dismissed), did interviews with Keith Pierce and Ryan Spaulding and called it a long and productive day in the studio. Thinking back on it, I’ve never had a more productive day musically.

We got back to the Middle East around 7:30PM and found out we’d be playing second at 9:30. This was an ideal spot, the less time from rehearsals to performance the more likely I was to remember what we worked on. The set felt great and while I was performing I couldn’t help but thinking we actually sounded like a band. No doubt the crowd, a packed room there to support ZUMIX, Boston Band Crush and the One Night Bands, helped make the performance.

After the rush of playing our first and last set together pulling it off sans any huge flubs I was feeling great. The real humbling moment of the night was back in the green room after the set when the manager for Annual Snowfall, the teenage ZUMIX band who totally kicked ass for a H.S. band, asked if the group could get their picture with me. It was a cute and flattering gesture. Aaron thought this was the greatest thing. “That was awesome!” he explained. “Kids can smell two things: talent and fear. They definitely saw your talent.”

As I was packing up my gear in the green room with the other guys the dynamic had changed. Where before I had seen four strangers I had just met earlier that morning, I now saw brothers in arms. We had made it through something unique, exciting and challenging together; and as I talked to all of them about their upcoming shows I knew these people, along with the other friends I made that night, were now a part of my life.

Golden Owl(s): The Story of My One Night Band Part I

Photo by Johnny Anguish/DayKamp Music.

Friday night felt like the night before the first day of school. More specifically 1st grade, 9th or freshman year of college. The transition years– the start of something new. I wasn’t going to know too many people, something I was both excited and nervous about. But like my days in school, I knew there were many friends and memories to be made if I fully immersed myself. And in my involvement I found that to be truer than I could have ever imagined.

Early Saturday morning as I raced over to the Middle East, I thought of my fellow Boston rockers tired/hungover and bleary eyed, making the same trip. Of the people involved that I already knew, I had never seen any of them before nightfall let alone 10 in the morning. The early wake up socializing was met with the anticipation of what was inside the envelopes which myself and 39 other musicians clutched tightly.

Around 10:15 a.m., just as the last of the participants rolled in, Ashley instructed us to open our envelopes and match the sticker on our name tags with others in our bands. “I hate team building!” someone shouted out as we struggled to figure out what our stickers were supposed to be. I was convinced, and still am, that mine was a pot of gold. “Pot of gold? Pot of gold?” I repeated as I made my way through crowd. I was on a mission and if you weren’t a match, you were dead to me for the next 5 minutes. I heard someone else say pot of gold in the back of the room, it was John Sheeran (bassist for Township). Our strategy was to hang tight and let the other three find us. Kerri-Ann finally encouraged us to seek out our remaining members.

Sure enough, three dudes were looking to round out their band. “Owls?” the group said to John and I. We looked closer at the stickers, they were the same as ours. The remaining band was Evan Shore (singer and guitarist: Muck & The Mires), Lou Paniccia (drummer: Oranjuly), and Aaron Rosenthal (keys: This Blue Heaven). Once we had all met up we were asked to conjure up a band name, a really difficult task it turns out for five people who just met eachother. Lou whipped out his iPhone and was reading off possibilities from a random band name generator.

That’s when Ryan Spaulding (Ryan’s Smashing Life) and film crew came over to introduce the new band. We were completely stuck in the naming process. His cameraman Jonathan Case suggested a combination of sticker theories, “How about Golden Owl?”. It was 300x better than anything we thought of (flaccid dolphin being one of the rejects). After 5 minutes of being a “band” we had our name, our first tv interview and a photo shoot. We decided to go for the “tough guys” face. I think it was the right call.

more to come…



Cover Series

I’m taking on a long list of covers picked by you (and me) to add to my YouTube page. Some will be candidly shot on my webcam, others might be live footage from a show or maybe even car singing. Hopefully by the end of the series you guys have turned me on to some cool new stuff, I have some new videos for the page and everyone wins.

If you have any ideas, add them to the comments. This list will keep growing. Once I have done a song I’ll put the title in italics and add the url next to it. Thanks for your support!

Check out the list on facebook.

Ryan in Performer Magazine

Check out my Spotlight in July’s issue of Performer Magazine where I discuss Black Sheep, Run, my most recent tour and upcoming recording projects. Read it HERE.

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