Interview: Ry X, Aussie guitarist and soundtracker of adverts

The up-and-coming musician talks Danos, shack-building, and open-air mic mishaps.

Ry X

1I couldn’t live without my…

“Vintage Danelectro/Silvertone with lipstick pickups. Such a beautiful, rich sound and tone. I’ve carried it with me so many times around the world, and it has informed a lot of the sound elements I create with guitars and loops and reverbs.”

2In another life, I’d have been…

“Surfing. It’s the other half of my heart. I travelled surfing before I did with music, and I can imagine I would be working hard toward building a shack near the sea and picking fruit from the trees around me… Actually, I’m working toward that, either way!”

3The moment it all started…

“In my teens, growing up in the surf and skate scene, I fell into a love of grunge and punk. That was my world through those formative years. Yet I ached for something else… and when I heard Jeff Buckley, that was it. I knew what I wanted to lean toward, and how to do it with a power built within fragility, too.”

4The one that got away…

“I think we all have those ones, no? I’ve been pretty good about holding onto my synths, pedals, and old guitars. But I do remember pulling the top off some amazing synths about 10 years ago thinking I could make them sound better, and alas… no more sound… turns out they worked better without me!”

5My Spinal Tap moment…

“Oh man, I remember a terrible summer… walking onto stages with 5,000 people booing you at festivals because the mic isn’t on is rather embarrassing.”

6The best advice that I’ve ever been given…

“I was told early on by some dear friends and peers, people I respected for succeeding doing their craft, to trust that all I made was me – was my style. To not question it, or define it with genre, but to allow all aspects of it to be expressed. I trusted that. It took some time to sink in, but I work to allow that to be my path each day. And I have been able to span across genres and styles so much because of it. If it’s you, it’s you.”

7The first thing I play when I pick up a guitar…

“I actually play pieces of my own songs if I’m trying out a guitar that I’m thinking of buying. Because I know what it will be used for, I know what I want it to sound like, and I know that I’ll want to use it on tour… and then it will become an extension into writing and studio work as a unique sound of its own.”

8The most important thing on my rider…

“Healthy food. Taking care of the body is really important touring. It’s not an easy thing to travel so much and push the body so hard. So local and organic foods, fresh produce to make pressed juices, ginger for teas, et cetera, become staples of health.”

9My guilty pleasure…

“I wish I had something juicier here! I listen to a lot of ambient music. Explorative music. Usually no lyrics or voice, long pieces that explore soundscapes… but sometimes it’s great to have a bit of banging techno, too!”

10If I could just play one thing…

“I love Afro-jazz – the rhythms, the grooves. I would love to have some time to put into learning some of those aspects and sit in with players from that genre… play for six hours at a time, sweaty and locked in! It sounds like a beautiful contrast and release from the kind of shows I create, too – maybe that’s why it’s so appealing.”

Ry X’s new album, Unfurl, is out 15 February 2019 on Infectious Music.