Interview: Ryan Lee Crosby – Winter Hill Blues

Crosby’s earliest influences were Iggy Pop, John Lee Hooker, the Velvet Underground, and the Ramones, and he began playing guitar in bands when he was 14, after having the instrument for only a week. “The spirit of throwing yourself into whatever speaks to you has always been at the heart of how I engage in music and meaning,” he says.

Hey Ryan, super nice to have the chance to chat with you. What first got you into music?
Thanks so much – I appreciate the opportunity to be in dialogue.

I credit my mother and grandmother with getting me into music. My Mom was a Beatles fanatic and got me hooked early. My grandmother loved movies… and through a love of movies I heard songs by John Lee Hooker, the Ramones and the Velvet Underground, all of which helped set the course for my life.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Farees, who I think is one of the most exciting and inspiring musicians around… someone who is deeply imbued with tradition, yet is blazing a trail of highly personal music that sounds both timeless and contemporary.

We dig your song ‘Slow Down’. Can you tell us more about the making of it and if there were any unusual things happening during the process?
“Slow Down” was a song that came together very quickly,  just about a week before the recording session. The words were inspired by a lyric I heard Jimmy “Duck” Holmes sing – “slow down, you’re going too fast.” One of the things I have learned from Jimmy, both in music and in life, is that there is value in being unrushed. We live in a fast paced world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to be. Something he has said to me on a number of occasions is “the young dog runs ahead, but the old dog knows the way.” I want to be like the old dog…

What are you focussing on right now?
Right now, I am in the midst of relocating from the city of Boston to a small seaside town in Rhode Island. I lived in the city for many years and am now focusing on building out a studio for analog recording and for teaching music online. In the fall, I plan to do more touring to support my new album Winter Hill Blues, both in the US and in Europe.

What is the biggest decision you’ve had to make?
That is a difficult question to answer, because I think the universe makes the really big decisions for us.

What is the biggest challenge of being an artist?
Balancing one’s integrity, creativity and independence with the need to pay the bills.

How do you structure your day?
In the morning, I make coffee, listen to music and write in a journal. After that, I walk my dogs, which I follow with meditation and music practice. After that, I tend to email. In the evening I teach music lessons online.

Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music?
Hanging out with my wife and dogs, hunting for vintage recording equipment, reading and walking by the water where I live are all ways I enjoy spending my free time.

Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
Occasionally, I sing scales in the shower, but generally I find it’s a really good place to think and for ideas to emerge, similar to what happens while driving.

What are your plans for the future?

I will walk the dogs this afternoon and then take a nap. In the evening, I’ll play some guitar. In the coming week, I’ll teach guitar lessons online and do some writing about what it means to me to be a musician. In a few months, I hope to travel to play shows for people. Then I’d like to make another album.

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