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RY X: “Music And Dance Are The Two Most Powerful Art Forms Of Catalysing Experience Straight Away”

Australian artist RY X offers us a journey into the confines of his inner landscapes and truly lays himself bare. 


Clifford Usher

Australian artist Ry Cuming (aka RY X) from the folktronica scene is releasing his third album, Blood Moon, composed and produced in isolation during the pandemic. The sonic architect with a melancholic voice full of fragility offers us a journey into the confines of his inner landscapes and truly lays himself bare. 

Where did you spent the last two years of worldwide pandemic?

In California, in my home nestled in the mountains of Topanga Canyon overlooking the ocean. This is the first time I have spent so much time there without being able to travel. I am very fortunate to be able to live and work in this deeply inspiring environment for creating art.

Why did you choose this place? 

Although I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve lived in California since I was a teenager. I’ve also lived in Europe, in Berlin, but there’s something special about California. I think I live in a reminiscent way to the way I grew up in Australia, in this ‘surf town’. I can leave my house and not see anyone for days if I wanted to. I’ve got an old 70’s pick-up truck and I just cruise down the hill bare feet to the ocean to surf. I know everyone in town and then I go back up the mountain to my house and my studio. When I need to, I can easily connect into Los Angeles and the artistic communities on the East Side and feel the pulse, the dynamic shift of what’s going on culturally and energetically. This balance kind of meets and mirrors these two parts of my heart and being. 

This third album has a darker side than the previous one, has the pandemic had a strong impact on your creativity? 

Rather than ‘darker’ I’d say more ‘deeper’. What happened has had an impact on everybody. But I did not have a dark time at all. I think I had a very inward and reflective time. I make my art from an honest raw place. This period gave me time and space for deep introspection. I didn’t want to be afraid to explore new territories both in terms of content and soundscapes. I put all my energy into creating by digging deep into my heart love and spirituality. I made so many songs for this record! It was a very prolific period.

How did you choose the songs that are finally on the album? 

It was very difficult. I tried to find a balance, a beautiful blend of raw, acoustic sounds and the electro-ambient elements of my work as a producer. I really appreciate non-dimensionality, to not to be just one thing and to be able to share the whole of your experience and expression. So this album has a wide sound palette. My ultimate filter for making my choice was to know, when I listened to a song, if the track sounded authentic and resonated with my heart.

How do you compare this album with the previous one ‘Unfurl’? 

I try not to think about the album when I’m creating, I just want to pour from organic places and see what happens. I think this album is more aligned with my first album ‘Dawn’ in its organic nature and has a more Unfurl-like expanded production.

Is it a “back to basics” type of album? 

Back to complicated basics, yes (laughs)

When you make your first album, you have plenty of time to create it. You have all the time for excavation and experiment. This new album has benefited from those conditions and has that depth of exploration, an organic feel and rawness and authenticity of the heart.

RY X. Photograph by Clifford Usher

Is the title of the album, Blood Moon, related to the prophecy of the Blood Moon and the end of times? 

Yes, there’s a bit of that into it. You mentioned a ‘darker’ side to my music. I would say there is ‘gravity’ in the word and the meaning. When I was looking for a title for the album I had written a whole bunch of words from the lyrics of the songs separately on a sheet of paper and when I looked at the page, those two words kept coming back together, as if they stood out in bold. I also explored the concept of prophecies and the ideologies behind the Blood Moon. A lot of it is about bringing shadow into the light and recognising this as part of our human experience. It is also a time when the people we hold dear and sacred, our leaders were folded into the people in a form of protection. I love this beautiful idea of putting what is sacred within the people.

The last Blood Moon took place a few days ago…

Yes, I played with my band at a festival in the North that night. We came home exhausted but one of the band members offered to hike two and half miles up to this peak in the middle of the night to watch the eclipse. It was so beautiful, so powerful! 

The feeling that was there, sitting on a rock is the exact feeling of the album: the want to walk through the night with people you love to a sacred place and witness this incredibly powerful moment. I hope people will feel that same feeling of power and gravity listening from some of the songs on the album!

Are you trying in a way to translate these incredible natural landscapes into soundscapes? 

Exactly! I think we are all heavily influenced by the place we live in. We have to live where our heart feels in resonance with our environment, this is the way our mind feels free and inspired. Too often we tend to ignore this too much. I am a child of nature. I grew up on a small island. I surfed on the ocean for hours a day. Growing up, I spent as much time with the ocean, the dolphins, and wilderness as I did with people. And that influenced my choice to live here in California between the mountains and the ocean. I’m quite introverted when I’m alone. I spend a lot of time in silence listening to the elements, to nature. When I work and compose, I am listening in the same way. I am creating soundscapes and then I start building songs on the top of these things.

Nature and the Ocean are predominant in your work but also Bodies and Dance. Does sensuality play an important role in your creativity? 

Yes, it does. My whole life is partly dictated by sensuality. There is an understanding of sensuality as being only a sexual thing but it is above all our way of apprehending the world through our senses, what we hear, what we see, smell, touch and feel. My life is sensual. My life choices, where I live, what surrounds me, the way I move. It’s all a very subconscious decision to surround myself with things that are deeply sensual. The sensuality of dance is so powerful and visceral. Music and dance are the two most powerful art forms of catalysing experience straight away. I love painting, photography, sculpture and performing arts but there is something with music and dance… you watch, you feel it and it just cracks you open! The Body, The Divine, Universal Feminine has always been a deep Muse of mine.

How did you explore femininity in this album?

The Feminine has been a Muse since the beginning of time. The Ocean is the most beautiful analogy, representation of the Feminine, this vast powerful place but at the same time so gentle and welcoming. It receives you wherever you are. I can go there happy, sad, angry or frustrated, the water is always there for me and accepts me as I am. It is the same with the Feminine. It’s the place where the Masculine can finally rest and be inspired. For me it is a more powerful presence than the Masculine but they need and love each other. I explored this in the album in terms of my relationships, my loverships, my connection with women and also within Nature. The spirit within the Ocean feels feminine to me.

Your music has a ‘soothing’ effect on people who listen to it, what role does music play in your life?

It’s such a deep part of my being! There’s always music playing in the house. In terms of soundscapes, I listen to a lot of ambient, modern minimal composers, some kind of obscure and non-lyrical, non-structured music. I interpret my world through music and I’m grateful that people can connect to it.  

You collaborated with the Icelandic artist Ólafur Arnalds on this album. How did you two meet? 

There are people with whom you resonate. We share quite a lot of communities with Ólafur, artists like Josin who worked on his last album and whom I took along on my last tour. His partner is going to tour with me this summer. We are like a family of souls. I was in Iceland directed my video with two dancers. We had dinner together before I left. At the end of the night, we realized we were both hitching to go and create something. It was ten o’clock in the freezing cold evening and I was leaving the next day at six a.m. Still, we ended up in the studio in Reykjavik and we created in a very intuitive way. At first, we started playing drums together. Then I sat at the piano. The song came about within three to four hours that night. When you connect with someone artistically and creatively, I think it is easy to make Art together. You just both open up this creative channel and you make Art. I was happy to have done this track together and hope to do more in the future! And maybe jump on his stage some time! 

You prefer to work with analogic equipment on your albums. What is your relationship with technology? 

There’s some duality there! I’m grateful for technology to be able to connect us throughout the world and make things easier in some ways. I need more time to take things in, to allow them to gestate in my being. Technology makes everything happen so fast. I have to be very conscious of phones, I have to push it away a lot, turn notifications, turn off everything so I can choose to be with it rather than let it always be in my life. In the studio, I love to create in a very analogue way where I can touch and feel the instruments then I can record that and I can work on it afterwards. I’m very hybrid. I’m very familiar the computer programs and I use them a lot but I need a balance to maintain a kind of purity in my work. 

You said a few years ago: “Art will go down hill when we stop dreaming”. How do you keep on dreaming today? 

You have to keep your hearts open. It’s a choice to wake up every day and say: I need to feel my resonance with the world rather than my separateness from it, to keep choosing to see beauty in the world and keep exploring that, to keep getting inspired by Nature, by the people around me, the people I love, my family. If I can connect to these things and allow them to inspire to me, the inspiration is endless and I can dream forever! If I start closing off my heart, closing off to the beauty of the human experience, where do I make my art from? It would suffer. 

Is there a dream you wish to fulfil? 

Just the one of touching people with my art and being in service with it. And also that anything based on ego or self-professed success would soften into a much broader idea of how to contribute to the world and to people!

From Rolling Stone France