It’s not often that you get to see one of your college classmates play a slot at major music festival ‘Groovin The Moo’, or supporting acts such as SAFIA, and Cosmo’s Midnight. Ryan Fennis has done just that though, quickly climbing the ladder to become one of Canberra’s most interesting producers. I was given the chance to chat with Fennis about headlining his own show on the 20th of July at the Polish White Eagle Club with the support of local talents and friends Mia Sørlie, Erelalo (pronounced error-la-lo!), Genie, and janesjungle.
Aside from this being his first headline show, Fennis will be playing new songs off his EP ‘WASTE’ for the first time live. He candidly admits “Playing remixes is- it’s kind of like too easy… I’m totally done with those” Despite building his career so far on remixes, Ryan considered them as a means to an end for learning how to create this dream project and many more to come. Lessons from doing remixes weren’t loss on him though “What changed my perspective a lot was my ‘Bad and Boujee’ remix, I got a lot of positive feedback on that and I tried to make it super unique, as different as I could. I incorporated that idea into the EP of trying to make something different. Like something I want to hear.” From that Ryan was able to feel confident that his own voice and sound would be received well in the case of original content. The departure from remixes adds a few hurdles such as playing live instruments and singing together, though he welcomes the challenge. “With doing this show you have to have confidence in yourself to be able to play at the right time, the right notes, and be able to sing the right notes. There will be a lot more involved with this kind of show.” WASTE is an energetic affair despite what the name might suggest. Songs like ‘My Favourite’ (which ironically is my favourite one of the EP) and ‘Closer’ show off a more playful side, using unconventional genres such as bossa nova and traditional Indian music to make his own unique sound.
“There were a lot of influences, some disco, funk, synth-pop, some RnB, and in terms of tones and textures of different instruments lots of classical music, some Indian and Chinese.” Elevating synths, keys, bouncing beats, and even bongos separate Fennis from a sea of electronic artists by proving he can cohesively blend different textures and tones to create something that makes sense and is fun to listen to. One unique instrument that I picked out from some of the songs was Ryan’s own voice. No note is strained or missed as he had a lot of encouragement from friends and practice sessions in studios to perfect his singing. The vocals fit in comfortably with each song and work as a guide through them, effortlessly harmonising and leading together in songs like ‘Waste’. “I like to think of it as an instrument rather than ‘me doing the vocals’, so I would use it in the same way I would write a piano melody. Same with harmonies and stuff, it’s the same way I write music, I’m just singing it.”
One of the major parts about carving out his new identity is his EP art. He reveals that even those photos were taken by himself just with a tripod and some gusto. “So the idea behind the whole album was ‘I want to do it myself’ so that’s why I did a self-portrait. The Night one was all me as well, that was at this winery and I to like jump the fence. It was kind of scary cause I saw dog kennels and was like ‘Oh shit’, they have guard dogs or something, but I took the photos and they turned out nice.” With determination like this, it’s easy to see how Ryan made it to where he is now amongst the Canberra community. “It’s a goal with this show to see for myself to see- cause I’ve never performed singing and playing guitar, so it’s more of a goal for myself to be able to do the show, and know I can do it. I’ve been practicing quite often and I’m feeling quite good about it.”
Ryan Fennis plays the Polish White Eagle Club on the 20th of July. The event runs from 8 pm onwards. Entry is $5 at the door and is open to all ages.