Warrick Ryan is an up and coming South African singer and songwriter, who also happens to be gay. We were lucky enough to get an interview with Warrick to get to know him.
A quick bio of Warrick Ryan
Warwick Ryan began singing professionally at a young age, appearing in the opera Hansel and Gretel at age 9. He was mentored by his grandfather, Bill Steel, a renowned opera singer who performed on the famous stages of Paris, London and Barcelona.
Warrick Ryan has performed both locally and internationally and has been the opening act for artists such as Jessie Clegg, Zebra and Giraffe, The Greame Watkins Project, Jack Parrow and Heuwels Fantasties.
Let the interview begin…
So Warrick, how old are you now, and what is your star sign?
I am 22 years old, and I’m a typical Aquarius. My moon sign is Virgo and my rising sign is Taurus.
What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?
To be honest I’m passionate about people. I love meeting new people and interacting with interesting people. I feel that you can learn so much from others. I believe that everyone has a story and nobody’s story is the same. People are my biggest source of inspiration.
My other passion is music. I love listening to music and talking about it. Music can change moods and I find that amazing. You can be feeling so down but when you hear a certain song you just want to grab your party shoes.
How did you passion for music come about?
I guess my family has always loved music. My dad always had the music playing in every room of the house. It’s bizarre to walk into my parents house without any music playing. My dad also had the biggest CD collection I’ve ever seen.
When I was 9 I sang in an opera at PUK (North-West University), and always had solos in my primary school revue until my voice broke. I guess the fact that my grandpa was a famous opera singer in his day inspired me. I just always loved music and haven’t stopped singing since I can remember.
So what embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?
Hahaha, Uhhhmmm – We Belong Together by Mariah Carey; 1000 Miles by Vanessa Carlton; the whole 1989 Taylor Swift album.
How would you describe your daily life?
It’s busy. I wake up, gym, write, rehearse, dabble in some production – I might have a shoot on the day or studio booked. I make food. I work on mails. I do research and listen to loads of music. Every day is different. But it is always busy.
Where can we find you when you’re not working?
Haha… I am like a nomad when it comes to doing things. I never like doing the same thing too often. I think Cape Town has so many things to do and places to see that I’m spoilt for choice. But in the week you could find me at Beluga for a sushi lunch, and on Sundays I like to chill out at my house and watch the sunset with a glass of wine. But other than that, I love going to Hudsons on Somerset Road for ‘The Shroom’ burger.
What most excites you about your music & the contribution you can make to the industry?
For me its not about the fame or making it big. I feel like I have a story to tell. I want to be able to help people and touch them with my music and make them realize that everyone goes through tough times. I want to inspire young people to rise to the top and not play victim in any situation. I want to show them that no matter who and what you are, you have been dealt a hand of cards and you can’t swap them. Its about how you play poker with those cards.
Speaking of tough times, at what age did you come out as gay? Tell us about it…
I came out to my parents at 17. I was however outed at school and lost all my friends. I didn’t really know 100 percent that I was gay. I guess I was just trying to figure it out and I really needed time to find myself – be happy and comfortable with myself and live in my own skin. It was scary to see how many people turned their back on me because of something so small that really doesn’t change you as a person in anyway. I wish I had more time to just find myself instead of being put in that position.
Tell us about the music that has had the most influence on you
My music influences have been quite different. I remember loving The Carpenters, Fleetwood Mac – the free flowing lyric and effortless voices. I remember being obsessed with Stevie Nicks. It then moved to Maroon 5 – I remember loving the first album – Songs about Jane. I mean Adam Levine’s style of writing is so pop but still so edgy and relatable. I love musicians who push boundaries and write their own songs. I love One Republic for that exact reason. And lastly I’m a huge pop fan but listen to everything from Ben Howard to Miley Cyrus to Frank Ocean to Coldplay. I don’t think its 1 specific artist. It’s a huge combination of influences.
Where do you take the most inspiration from when writing songs?
I generally write from my own experience, my feelings and thoughts. I also take a lot from people and really listen when they speak. Sometimes there are really cool concepts that are created from a conversation with someone.
You wrote the song “In the end”… what is the meaning and inspiration behind this song?
It was based on the experience of a person very close to me, and I watched it all go down. I wanted it to be a positive song for him. So that he knows he will be “alright in the end”. See the music video.
Do you still get nervous when you need to perform?
Man, I always get nervous before a performance. Especially right before I go on. But half way into the first song it settles down and its like someone else takes over.
Describe how you feel when you are on stage, singing one of your own songs.
I’m quite an emotional performer, so I feel everything I sing – especially if it’s dear to me. I relive the experience that inspired the song. But performing it comes from somewhere deep down that you don’t get in rehearsals. Maybe the adrenalin sets it free? But it’s always exhilarating to see how the crowd reacts to your own music and quite therapeutic.
Where would your dream performance be?
Madison Square Garden in New York City – Definitely.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Just to live in the moment and love yourself – it’s very important to know your worth and really love yourself and your flaws. You’ve been dealt one hand of cards – it’s up to you how you use them. Also don’t take criticism badly. Use it to learn and improve. You’re never too old to learn.
How do you want to be remembered?
As a happy, good person who changed the world and the way that people think. I want to be remembered in songs.
Finally, what message would you like to send to the gay community?
Accept and love everyone. There is a place in this world for all sorts of people. All sorts of gay people: from butch to drag queens – just be yourself no matter how hard it is. Love yourself just the way you are. Rather be a person that says, “You can sit with me.” Instead of one who says you can’t. That doesn’t mean you have to like everyone. But just live and let live.