This is the story of Ry Cuming – the story of love, melancholy, dawn, longing, peace.
How do you keep both feet on the ground in a metropolis like Los Angeles, if you grew up in a small town of only a few hundred people like Angourie, Australia? How do you resist, keep complex logarithms, and yet remain simple? How to emanate creativity, strength and charisma in a carefree and peaceful manner, without pompous bells and whistles? This is a story about Ry Cuming, a story about love, melancholy, dawn, longing, peace.
Mornings with the Ocean. Waking up in boardshorts. The abundance of space and time for creativity and contemplation. Fun – not included, you have to create it yourself. The number of students in elementary school totals eleven. Less has always been more. People seem to be at your fingertips in a metropolis, but still, they are so distant as potential friends or partners. Ry and his childhood friends have never been distant. The only distance was a 9km road they went down on an old BMX to hang out and for a sleepover. It was a time without Skype and social networks.
Children don’t come to this world with the knowledge of true relationships and values. This is where parents enter the stage – hippie mom and dad, yoga instructor and a poet. Awareness, focusing on the nature, meals made from backyard grown fruits and vegetables. Dad’s vinyl he saw as a state of the art technology, recent times attainment. On the covers – Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, The War, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Motown. Understanding the music through exploration, the approach he adopts and practices to this day.
Teenage years brought grunge, Nirvana – raw strength and freedom that won his heart, not as a form of aggression, but rather power. Same energy he felt years later, but in a completely different way, tender and pure. As a present form his girlfriend, he got Jeff Buckley’s album, and since then there’s only one mission for Ry – blending raw and gentle, soothing vocals with guitar distortion.
He used to played music alone, that’s when the truth and intimacy were only listeners. Ry is an exception in the music industry, not the rule. When he was 17, while cruising along the Central America, he sang on the streets of Costa Rica. A scout from Jive record label took him to Los Angeles. When he arrived, he didn’t even know he should wear shoes for a walk around the city, let alone what music industry is.
Tours, instructions, alcohol, drugs, marketing, girls winking at the first hints of an eventual glory – nothing like the simplicity of Byron Bay. It didn’t take him long to realize he was on the wrong path, but for self-aware people, it isn’t that hard to get back on the right track.
Instead of the organized chaos and the expectations of the record label and the manager, he went into a disorganized spontaneous serenity (Bali) of his own perception of music – communicating with the audience without intermediaries. It is then when the outline of what was yet to come appeared, Howling, Ther Acid – the pure forms of his anonymity.
Howling, The Acid
Through a mutual friend, and over Skype, he met Frank Wiedemann (Innervisions founder and member of Âme duo along with Kristian Beyer). After a while, they finally meet and shared a pizza on Venice Beach. They used to send music to each other, and the culmination of this exchange was the demo song “Howling”, a vocals and guitar live.
Before Wiedemann, Ry never worked with anyone who could enter the threads of his music the way he liked. Frank did both “everything and nothing” to the song, which delighted Ry. He also played the demo without Ry’s knowledge in one of Berlin’s clubs, and the audience instantly connected with it. Soon after, they released the song.
The song was created in a house on the mountain in northern Los Angeles. Ry himself, like a wolf, saw two piercing eyes in the forest one evening. The name of the duo and the single came literally and figuratively – naturally, the cry of a lone wolf.
The motif for the song was personal and emotional, like everything else tied to people who wear their hearts on their own sleeves. The song is about one specific night and the end of a relationship, the girl at the time going to rehab, an emotionally very delicate moment. In the same way that it coheres, the song itself is completely filter-free.
That same year, 2012, Ry realizes that it would be suitable that Frank teaches him Deep House, one of the symbols of Berlin’s music community that lasts for 40 years. So, way before Bob Moses, they became pioneers of electronic music combined with vocals. Inspired by Björk, Massive Attack, Radiohead and James Blake, they started creating live music, using computer as an instrument and not as a play button over which they would sing, because for them that would be a great music illusion.
In the same period he established The Acid with his friends Adam Freeland and Steve Nalepa, professor of music technology. The album was released incognito on Soundcloud and was shared organically, from ear to ear. Electronic video mapping for this album was created by their Italian friend, Gianni. Each modulation in music was projected on the canvas.
In Topanga they recorded their songs on a smartphone to later edit and refine them on a computer. “If you really believe in what you are doing, turn on your iPhone if you need, and that will be the seed that the rest will sprout from. Now all analog machines are available to me, but freedom comes from limitation. If you only have Ableton at your disposal, work on it, the real artist uses whatever he owns to create something beautiful.” We’ll add that the Berlin track cost him $50 – a microphone, a guitar and an amplifier.
“There’s nothing better than working with your friends, intuition without reconsideration, fluid process, and unique expression.”Ry X
Ry X, Dawn
Berlin became his cultural and creative home, and Los Angeles his sanctuary, for more than 10 years already. In the US he created music, in Berlin he experienced it. In 2016, while driving his old Cadillac at dawn on the way home, the album got its name; it was his third baby, his alter ego he didn’t share with anyone this time – Ry X.
At the zenith of his own creation, the morning mist appears, he is watching one of the most beautiful sunrises. We may connect better with the sunset, but the dawn is the beginning, the consolidation, the holy time. It’s the energy he wanted for himself, for a fresh start. Melancholy, happiness, sadness, loss, opportunity, a journal of experiences, explorations of love that can hardly be more personal, sensuality, passion. Light and darkness, he extinguishes with surfing, meditation, yoga and – music.
The creation of the song “Berlin” actually began at Byron Bay – mango trees right by the beach, everyone half-naked, dolphins swimming in the sea. From there, he leaves for Berlin to see his girlfriend. The temperature in Berlin is -20 degrees. He finds himself in a room with his love that turns out not to be one. Introspection starts. By his recognition, the song itself is that energy, hence the single version of the song, without any revisions. It was released as an EP in Sweden, vinyl only. All 500 copies were organically dispersed on the shelves of music lovers. The second track from that album “Lean” also carries the most vivid outlines of a relationship. Turn off the lights and lean, Turn off the lights and come back.
The Unfurl album is released in 2019. The word for him represents a deep sense of flowering. “The flower that opens, the person who unconsciously reveals to others what they have always been. There is much beauty in that moment, when you get to know something unique, and even though you are aware that it has always been like that, it gets an extra note when you witness it. “
The moment when he utters “Somebody, hold my head up”, in the song “YaYaYa”, sounds brutal, truthful and vulnerable. You have that unique feeling that as an ordinary listener, you could change one’s life with just one move of the hand. If that’s exactly what he wanted, I’d be honored to pass this message on to you.
The track “Untold”, the letting go and giving in, is a rare meditation that you can imagine along with the bass vibration. “Bound”, “Water”, the complete album has been my candidate for the best album this year since March. Having met him, and having felt his unobtrusive yet penetrating energy at the wonderful Terminal Festival in Sombor, I stand even stronger in support of my previous claim.
Similar to Ry, melancholy is both happiness and sadness to me. The cognition of happiness comes through the darkness, and those extremes are outlined in the frame of life we live. Ry is extremely honest, and he also believes that “being honest is incredibly liberating”.
Truth leads directly to the freedom, the privilege of a few. Music is his version of church, the ceremony. Persons like Ry are the new optimism for the mornings that wake us, the optimism that this world is still beautiful, and his music will be an eternal testament to the lightness, but also the weight, the only essential point of life – love.
Pavle Jakšić | Vitraž
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