Ryan David Dwyer is an instrumental pianist and lyrical song writer crossing many genres. He goes by the moniker of Harpazio from a Greek word that means, “Rapture”. His desire is to elevate people through the music/lyrics. Recently, I had an interview with this interesting artist who has also invented an original music learning curriculum. Learn everything below!!!
1 – Did your parents or the city you were raised in, heavily influence your decision to write music?
My parents never chose to learn an instrument. I grew up in a small suburb of Portland, Oregon and although Portland has an amazing music scene, I was more influenced by specific people in my religious network, than from a city. I’d say that my grandparents played a huge indirect role because one set on my dad’s set providing us with an organ, then my grandparents on my mother’s side provided us with an old saloon piano. Getting that 1890 saloon piano really inspired me to want to make music!
2 – Upon listening to your songs on SoundCloud, I noticed you are an artist with different skills. How did you develop your talents as a pianist, singer, and lyricist?
When I was 8 my family inherited an organ. A family friend of ours who plays by ear mesmerized me with his impressive abilities to play any song. I didn’t desire to play by ear as much as I desired to play really impressively. But the first approach I learned from him was through a number system, and eventually recognizing Chords written upon musical Staff. Note reading had zero appeal. Growing up in a religious environment, I’d get inspired to play songs I really liked. I’d practice the chords. Eventually, at the age of 12 I decided to write my own lyrics based on spiritual ideas and enjoyed trying to create fresh ways to play chords. At the age of 14 my parents signed me up for piano lessons with a teacher who plays multiple instruments. I brought in a song I wrote and it impressed him greatly. As the weeks progressed he noticed that I would not work on the note reading lessons. So he focused on Chord patterns and encouraged me to write more songs. Surprisingly though, I ended up practicing scales a lot. What I noticed is that putting forth the effort to learn scales opened up a huge door of possibilities for me that allowed me to “flow” between chord changes. Regarding my current lyrics vs those of my teenage years, I do my best to invest a lot of thought into deep meanings that can be said as simple as possible. Matching the feel of lyrics to the way the music is played has always been a priority for my compositions. A year ago I decided it’d be ok for me to develop my voice better. It has been challenging for me to compete against myself since my piano playing musicianship is much better than my singing. So I will be trying my best to improve my voice over time to be more prepared for singing my own songs publically.
3 – What’s the music style of your latest song? What is it about?
My latest lyrical song is about 2 months fresh. It was inspired through an album concept and a book I began writing called, “Romance Myths” which will go into great detail about all the various different definitions and expectations of relationships in society. The style is ironic because it is a rare song (for me to write) through which I use the same chord pattern throughout. Often I advise people to never use the same chord pattern repeated. What I do is repeat D Minor, B Flat, F Major, and C Major over and over again. I wanted to write the song to demonstrate that through creativity you can take something which is common and make it sound uncommon. I add color throughout by playing variations of the chords with very contrasting melodies. I also use octave playing a lot, for the intro and final scene of the song. Octaves give a unique power to a melody line. Also, I sneak a lot of 6th chords, suspended chords, and chords over chords – such as C Major over E in the bass line. The actual title is called, “Missing You Now”. It describes many various feelings of missing someone and the longing to resolve the feelings by moving on.
4 – In your book, ‘You’ve Had The Keys All Along’ you write that people learn to play piano and write their own songs. How does this book differ from others?
I’ve never seen a music curriculum designed with songwriting as the main emphasis. There are hundreds of courses that teach how to write songs but they are normally tailored and based from the assumption that the student already knows how to play an instrument. Yet learning to play an instrument does not guarantee that the learner is prepared to write their own music. Being trained to read notes means that one is trained to regurgitate knowledge, not innovate. In the book, I point out the irony that all Classical Era musicians were songwriters. But if you were to interview piano teachers who are members of official music teacher associations and inquire if they write their own songs, you’d likely be surprised out how few actually do. And then you could ask them how many students they teach to write, and you may end up with a similar small statistic. So there is a great question to ask, “When in history did the excitement to teach songwriting die?” But with my music curriculum Key Identity AccessTM, we approach learning piano from an entirely different viewpoint than even that of historical note reading. We assert that the best way to learn to play music is naturally, that is, similar to how we all learned a language. First, we learned to speak, then we embraced reading and writing. Therefore, we encourage non-judgmental “speaking” of music, which leads to natural song composition. Babies experiment with words; therefore, why not encourage experimenting with sounds while learning all the necessary basics of music?
5 – What inspired you to write this book?
Since note reading teaches you to play other people’s creativity then it is automatically not favorable toward helping someone express their own originality. Writing the book is a wake-up call to shed unnecessary obstacles that prevent being oneself. This approach is radical and the book was written in order to make an impact on society by encouraging people to use their musical learning as a tool to be and become who they are, instead of the opposite. About a year before writing the book I had signed up for email lists online to be trained on how to write a book fast and also identifying one’s motive for writing one. I’ve always enjoyed writing since elementary school but I was always under the impression that a book takes a very long time to finish. What I learned recently was that if you have a topic you know you’re an expert on, then you already have all the necessary content to write a book. The next step is to organize how you want the content to be explained and revealed. I wanted to clearly set my company apart by giving the background behind the meaning of our name, “Key Identity Access”. We are access to all the keys of the piano. With a note reading approach all the keys of the piano are not accessible equally. What this means is that you have to learn the differences between sharps and flats by recognizing those symbols on a page. We get rid of all abstract symbols and form a bridge between abstract and concrete learning. Our bridge is the use of the 12 colors in the color wheel, consistently associated with the same keys. Also, the diagrams are very vivid and often show the recommended fingers to play. I have been told by many adults that they quit piano but wish they had not. In the book I pointed out that you don’t easily quit something that represents yourself.
6 – How useful is this book for electronic music producers? Does it contain the key to create a number one hit?
I know there are various approaches that determine a hit song. Sometimes I think hit songs don’t deserve to be at the top of the charts. Every company has different criteria to decide popularity. Nevertheless I often hear electronic music sound exactly like other songs. Miles Davis, the famous Jazz Trumpeter, said that, “First you imitate, then you innovate”. There is nothing wrong with imitating in order to gain fresh ideas and to become a better musician by practicing other people’s expression. Yet imitation does not belong in the final production of a song. If you are really wanting to set yourself distinguished from every other musician out there, then you should make it a priority to shed yourself of all regurgitation, and try to hone in on your original melodies, harmonies, and chord patterns. In this regard, my book delves into my philosophy of music making. I make distinction between Music Theory, Musicality, and Musicianship. I define Musicianship as the ability to express the same sounds that you imagine in your mind. Playing by ear is not the same thing as Musicianship. Playing by ear can be another form of regurgitation. Being able to expand yourself to imagine totally unique ways of making sound and rhythm collaborate, is what truly makes a person a musician. Therefore, since my book provides ideas to be able to philosophically acknowledge the differences between Music Theory, Musicality, and Musicianship, then it truly possesses the foundational Key to create a number 1 hit. In order to make a hit one has also to consider how they will transform their song in a way that the masses will appreciate, so that it is not just pleasing to yourself to listen to. Yet the problem I witness often is what I call, “songwriting laziness”. Basically, if you make an electronic song that sounds like every other out there then you are a lazy songwriter. You probably thought it would become a hit because it has scientifically been proven that certain “hooks” are popular. While that is true, why not come up with a hook that is even better? Use popular hooks as a source of inspiration to innovate, but don’t blatantly copy someone else’s hook.
7 – Have you ever written songs for other artists? Do you sell your lyrics online?
As of yet I haven’t written for any other artists and I don’t sell lyrics either. I’d be willing to do both under the right set of contracts and compensation.
8 – Would you like to collaborate with mainstream or underground singers? Why?
This would depend on how personable the individual is. If they are open to constructive feedback, that is the most important thing. But I also am open to constructive criticism, so it is a fair situation. On first thought though, underground singer collaboration is a more favorable idea because my feeling is that they are more open to creative expression, rather than a “popular package” that might stifle innovation.
9 – In your opinion, are music schools admitting too many students for the number of employment opportunities available?
If I am to understand your question correct, you are asking me if there are too many graduates with degrees that never end up teaching? If that is the case, I’d say, “Yes”. There are plenty of music teachers available therefore it is very tough to compete for obtaining students. What there are not plenty of are music teachers who invent their own methods.
10 – What are your future plans for the rest of the year?
It is hard to believe it is May already. My plans are to do my best to get their word out regarding the Key Identity AccessTM music curriculum and also do a lot of advertising experiments for my music career through Facebook. I’m just beginning to learn how to test Facebook ads. I’m amazed at their targeting features but there is so much to understand, and so many ways to formulate an ad. Some people claim that building an email list is vitally important, and then offering sales promotions after delivering a lot of valuable content. Other people claim that you can formulate an ad to do direct sales. I’ll be discovering what works best for me. I’m putting together some strategies for targeting high end clients that will pay thousands for a very valuable offering. Ben Sword with Music Marketing Classroom (London) says that the most important thing to do first is to build trust, then sell. I’m making that a priority.
Exclusive Interview: Paul Mayson Delves Into His Debut Album ‘One Life’
Paul Mayson‘s first-ever album, ‘One Life,’ is like a special mix of his love for House music, blended with different kinds of sounds and cool collaborations from artists all over the world. You definitely don’t want to miss this interview!
1 — With the release of your debut album ‘One Life,’ what are your expectations for how listeners will connect with the music?
My goal was to showcase my story and my sound. And for it to be an uplifting, positive, and summery album. Hopefully, it feels like that! It’s a collection of songs made at the moment, to make you feel happy and free. It’s about embracing life, the good things and the bad. And about doing what makes you happy.
2 — You’ve teamed up with a diverse range of international artists on this material. Please let us know how these collaborations came to be.
It was really exciting taking elements from different genres, working with a group of great artists who come from very different backgrounds, and bringing all of these sounds and flavors together on one project. A lot of artists I meet myself, reach out to the people I’m interested in. I often travel abroad to work on music together and do sessions in London or LA. Sometimes collabs can also happen through the label or the publisher, but ultimately it’s great to have an artist-to-artist relationship.
3 – What compelled you to emphasize the themes of life, freedom, and diversity in this album?
I’m very passionate about House music culture and the way it started. Which was all about positivity and celebrating life together. I love that message and think the soulful, feel-good element of House music is what always really attracted me to the genre. And to music in general, including other genres like Soul and RnB.
A few of the songs (like “Tell Me How” and “I Want You”) were basically made during one big jam session. It’s me just trying out completely different sounds, textures, and rhythms and experimenting with live drums, guitars, and whatever I feel like. Letting go of any rules connected to dance music allows for a really fresh approach to the album songs.
6 – How does the artwork complement the album’s concept?
It emphasizes the feel-good element and the overall message of the album. Life is in front of you, it’s there for the taking. You’re in the hallway, step into the light and embrace life.
7 – Will there be another amazing music video like “Have It All,” dropping in the near future?
We released a really cool art piece and visualizer for the album which I’m very excited about!
8 – Given your ambition to push boundaries within the Dance genre, do you think the bunch of producers already out there could make it tough for you to really stand out?
I think individuality is key. Doing something you’re passionate about. Telling your own story. If you go into that process, the outcome will be unique. Not following trends and doing my own thing is what helps me stand out and allows me to be ahead and I try to keep pushing myself.
9 – Among your studio essentials, what’s the item that you consider the cornerstone of your setup?
Quite a lot of my work is digital. I carry my laptop around and can produce and write anywhere with it, whether it’s my home studio, the studio in Amsterdam, a hotel, or even an airport. That’s what makes it flexible and international! Just being able to work anywhere and get the creative process going. At home I also love my Adam A77x monitors and I also use a Prophet synth.
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Exploring “My Friends”: Tobtok Talks Creative Process And More!
In this exclusive interview, Swedish producer Tobtok discusses all the details about his latest single as part of the ongoing countdown to the upcoming ‘My Friends’ EP. This is a collaborative effort with farfetch’d that you definitely shouldn’t overlook.
1 — Congratulations on the release of “My Friends.” Please tell us more about the influences and musical style that shaped this cool track.
Thanks! This tune has taken inspiration from bits and pieces of tracks I’ve been into over the last 10 years, everything from Daft Punk to Fred Again. It contains a lot of micro samples and vocal lines that are in a similar vein as old French House records, but we also wanted to experiment with the current UK rave sound, which we think ended up in a pretty unique and interesting way.
2 — How did you and farfetch’d navigate the creative process together, especially when faced with differing ideas or disagreements?
We were kind of on the same page with most things to be fair. Jerry from farfetch’d is a very creative guy and he loves to bash out new ideas, which worked well for me to develop into full songs. We worked on every track together in my studio and finished them off together. Of course, we had some different ideas about certain things but since none of us had a big ego, we just compromised. I think when you like the same kind of music, you usually think quite alike.
3 — What sets this collaboration apart from your previous singles?
I think this is possibly the strongest single from the EP. It feels catchy and is super simple yet not too boring. It also has Jerry’s voice in it which is unique to any other of our tracks.
4 — Can you share any funny anecdotes about specific moments while crafting “My Friends”?
We have hidden a few wacky voice notes in it as a sort of ambiance. It can be heard in the second verse or whatever you wanna call it. You clearly hear Jerry laughing about something, but I can’t remember what it was.
It’s track no.3 from our ‘My Friends’ EP which has a total of 6 tracks. It was released via Perfect Havoc on 29th September.
6 — What are your emotions when your music receives recognition and praise from other producers in the industry?
It’s always so much fun to get praise from your peers and colleagues. These people live and breathe music and probably hear way more stuff than the average listener, so I guess they tend to be less impressed by music.
Haha most definitely. I started out with French House which evolved into Nu-Disco. I later jumped on the Tropical House train (quite early on in my defense). Left that and tried something cooler with my track “ABER,” and from there, it’s been more of a mix between UK and Deep House.
8 — Is there any specific music genre you’re eager to explore?
Old School Disco and Soul. I’m a big fan of the 70s as a whole, that’s why I’ve bought a few vintage Roland pieces in my studio and a Rhodes Piano.
9 — Considering the global nature of music today, are there any international artists you’d love to collaborate with?
I love Jungle right now, for reasons made quite obvious in the previous question. They’ve mastered this cool retro 70’s/Motown sound and yet managed to make it sound fresh somehow. I’d love to just hang out in the studio with them and see what they do.
10 — As we conclude, do you feel that there’s a certain formula that artists can follow to produce chart-topping hits?
Nowadays, it’s all about doing something that stands out from what everyone else is doing and probably also adding a sprinkle of nostalgia and familiarity into something. A good example is the new Peggy Gou record which is a massive hit that takes inspiration from ATB but puts it in a new and interesting context. It doesn’t hurt to have a massive TikTok following either lol.
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From Drummer To EDM Producer: Kouss Opens Up About “Can’t Go Back”
You must read this interview with Kouss! He used to rock it as a badass drummer in the Stellar Revival band, but now he’s spilling the beans about how he switched things up and got into making electronic dance music (EDM). The spotlight is now on his latest track, “Can’t Go Back.” Learn more here.
1 — Putting your sound into words, how would you convey the mood and sensations that your music evokes to someone unfamiliar with it?
My music aims to be an uplifting and thoughtful blend of Progressive House and Dance-Pop. Even though the music is very dancefloor-friendly, the songwriting is very Pop-forward. I also love mixing live instrumentation with electronic production to create layered recordings. As a drummer, having live elements mesh with the electronic really brings out a unique texture.
2 — Your transition from Rock music with Stellar Revival to EDM is quite remarkable. Can you tell us more about it?
The transition from Rock to EDM is an exciting and natural creative evolution. I’ve always been passionate about electronic music, so finally being able to fully immerse myself in the genre as a producer and songwriter has been fulfilling. My background as a touring Rock drummer also gives me a unique musical sensibility that I try to incorporate into Kouss Records.
3 — As a drummer, you had to adapt to a different genre. How did you translate your rhythmic background into this new realm?
When approaching any genre, especially Dance music, I’m utilizing my background in percussion to create grooves and drum patterns. The drum parts still come from the same creative place whether I’m sitting behind a drum set or drawing with a MIDI controller. I will say that with EDM I find myself focused more on groove and restraint.
4 — In what ways have Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta played a role in shaping the sound of your new single “Can’t Go Back”?
Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta definitely influenced the melodic and atmospheric vibes in “Can’t Go Back.” Their music motivates and challenges me to produce massive soundscapes on the highest level. They’re all melodic magicians, and I continue to be inspired by their work. I also feel like I put my own spin on “Can’t Go Back.” It’s almost like the line between EDM and Pop became blurrier on this track.
5 — What’s the story behind the song title?
“Can’t Go Back” is generally about moving forward and not dwelling on the past. For me personally, it’s about evolving as an artist and person.
I was introduced to Anna soon after starting the Kouss project by “Can’t Go Back” co-producer and dear friend Phil Barnes. The second I heard Anna sing I knew I wanted to work with her. She’s an incredible songwriter and an awesome human. It was an organic collaboration that we’re both stoked about. Definitely be on the lookout for more collaborations with Anna in the future!
7 — How do you aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through this single?
I aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through the authenticity and musicality of “Can’t Go Back.” It’s about delivering that special feeling to the listener. We crafted this recording from a place of passion as artists. The lyrics are relatable and cathartic, and Anna’s vocals draw you into this sonic world we created. We also tap into some nostalgia with the Big Room House vibe. But overall the goal was to give listeners an authentic musical experience that resonates with them, regardless of what genre they usually listen to.
Yes, “Can’t Go Back” mixes electronic production with live drumming and live guitars. The live instruments give the song a dynamic texture and human feel. Not every Kouss song will have live instruments, but it’s definitely a major part of the debut EP coming in 2024.
9 — Looking ahead, how do you envision your music style evolving?
I want to continue bridging the gap between organic and electronic. Creatively, I think there’s a lot of meat on that bone. I also don’t want to limit myself to a single genre or style. I love all types of music and ultimately hope to develop a sound that draws from those diverse influences and experiences.
10 — Lastly, reflecting on your journey so far, what’s been the most memorable or rewarding moment of your music career?
Working with talented musicians and creators who are excited about my music has been humbling and inspiring. I didn’t expect it, but the reaction to “Can’t Go Back” has been both unexpected and validating. It’s so cool to see the song played in clubs, gyms, and cars. I’m truly fortunate to share my passion for music and connect with listeners who share the same passion.