Ryan Kinder talks to GIGsoup about guitar lessons, Jackson Browne and a new album

Newcomer Ryan Kinder has been taking Country music by storm and was recently in the UK to play at C2C and do a few select UK dates. GIGsoup caught up with him at The Borderline, London.

So, welcome to London Ryan, what has your experience been so far?

It’s been a whirlwind. We’re staying in Notting Hill, which is a very pretty place. Everyone’s really nice. The food is fantastic. Probably the biggest thing is that when you’re playing a gig, people are so unbelievably attentive. It’s not that way in the States all the time. I said to the audience at C2C, ‘How’s everybody doing?’, they were quiet, so then said ‘That’s not loud enough, sound’s like you haven’t been drinking very much’, and nearly the whole crowd held up a drink, I said ‘Oh you have been drinking. You’re just listening so intently’. They’re very appreciative. That was fantastic. They got a little rowdy by the end!

UK country fans are very loyal and passionate and we’re glad you’ve had a good experience. Is this one of your first gigs in London, have you been here before?

This is the first time I’ve been here, ever. I love it.

So what do you think of my home town?

I absolutely love it. I might not go home….I’ll just bring my wife over!

Tell us a little about you. If you had three words to describe yourself, personally what would they be?

As a person, loyal, hopeful, kind

If you had three words to describe yourself musically, what would they be?

Musically I would say soulful, loud and energetic. Once I get on stage and you put a guitar in my hand …..

Have to say, you do play a mean guitar. Can you remember your first guitar lesson or song you learnt?

I was in the 8th grade, my best friend took a guitar class and asked me to take it with him. He was my buddy so I went, to hang with him. I took the class and the teacher took me under his wing and saw that I was progressing a little bit quicker. I went home and asked my mum to buy me a guitar. She said to me ‘Prove you really want to do this. Guitars are expensive.’ She didn’t want me to play it for a week then put it down. So, I borrowed a friend’s guitar and practiced incessantly. I came downstairs and play her ‘Sweet Baby James’ (James Taylor) and she went ‘I’ll buy you a guitar’

When did you know that this was something you wanted to do for life?

I was probably fifteen or sixteen. I also played baseball most of my life and thought I would be a major league player. I got cut from the school team and had so much time on my hands that I delved into everything musical. That was the big moment of ‘this is what I really love’

What are your musical aspirations? Are there things you really want to achieve with your music?

From the moment I wrote my first song, I realised that I wanted to be able to be what my heroes are to me. That is the soundtrack to my life. I can listen to certain song and remember where I was, who I was dating, my favourite food at the time. Basically, where, how and when things were happening when I listen to a song. That’s what music is, it takes you to a certain place and makes you realise how much that moment in time meant to you. As a child, I realised that’s what I wanted to do some day.

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What songs in particular do that for you?

Jackson Browne in particular reminds me of my mother. She always played ‘Late for the Sky’ when I was younger. James Taylor reminds me of first learning guitar. I also remember going on holiday and waking up in the car to John Mayer ‘My Stupid Mouth’ playing. I woke up to an ‘a ha’ moment – that’s the sound. How do I find that sound? I just got tunnel vision trying to find how he did that. The lyricism and musicality of it enraptured me. That was the genesis for me.

What’s your approach to song writing now?

It depends on the day, who I’m with. In Nashville we co-write all the time. You’re in a room every day. Sometimes it’s somebody brand new, so, for the first part of the day, you’re kind of ‘dating’, trying to figure out their style. It becomes easier. Any song can start any way. A lot of mine usually begin with a guitar groove or a riff. Sometimes I just have a title or vague idea I’m trying to get towards. Finishing a thought I think could mean something or tug at someone’s heart strings.

You are working on a new album. What was on your mind, what themes were emerging as you were writing for this project?

We’re not completely finished yet, but the idea was getting back to what made me fall in love with music in the first place. For the longest time I tried to make the single that would get me the ‘hit’. I had fantastic success on Spotify, but US country radio didn’t think it was ‘Country.’ That was a ‘come to Jesus’ moment of me realising that I’m just going to do the best I can and put out the absolute best music that I am capable of. If it’s good music people will listen and purchase it. They’re going to come to the show and be a part of the community that just loves music.

You have a new single out ‘Leap of Faith’ 

I wrote it in 2012 and had in mind ‘We’re going to do our own thing’. We hope you like it, this is who we are.

You went to University in Birmingham, Alabama. Tell us how you got from that to your music career.

Birmingham is a central hub for touring in the south east of America. We’re so close to Nashville, Atlanta Georgia, lots of places. Throughout college I would play gigs Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday then drive up to Nashville on a Sunday. I would go to a writing session on Monday, drive back and go to class. One day a tornado hit the town where I lived and I realised life is too short, I left college and moved to Nashville to pursue music.

Is it true you recently got to play at the Opry?

It is hallowed ground. They just love great music. To be offered to step into ‘the circle’ was amazing.

Quick fire Questions…

Beer or Tequila: Tequila, as you can see. It’s right there! There’s no beer back here
Truth or dare? Not had enough tequila to answer that!
Martin Luther King or Billie Jean King Martin Luther King: I had to go to Washington DC to lobby for songwriters pay rights and got to stand exactly where he made the ‘I have a dream’ speech. It was humbling and I was awestruck. So Martin Luther King.