Interview: IRYS – Riot

Hey, super nice to have the chance to chat with you. What have you been up to over the past year in this big old mess?

Hey there, and thanks so much for having me! Haha, big old mess sums it up quite well! It was for sure challenging. I think I somehow made use of this big old mess though, to channel it into my music. The lockdown forced me to sit with myself and focus on what I actually want to do with my life. It’s so easy to just go with the flow and let life do you – instead of you doing your life! So I flipped that. My main focus since then has been creating and producing my music and sharing it with the world! I love doing that, so the lockdown has somehow been a blessing in disguise for me.

What first got you into music?

I’ve always been making music! As a kid, I sang in a choir, played guitar, and danced. Later I started making songs with my guitar. I initially did this more for myself, like some sort of therapy. When I moved to Berlin some years ago, I started working with different musicians and producers on my song material but quickly found this was not the right path for me. My music never sounded how I imagined, so I learned to produce it myself! I’m glad I made this decision, as this gave me many opportunities and enabled me to pull off my project independently.

What is your creative process like?

This varies from song to song! I come from writing songs with my guitar, so I’m very melody-focused. Mostly I have a hook or a vocal line in mind and record it on my phone to later work on it in my DAW. Lately, I have been focusing more on rhythm and also started songs with a beat. I love to experiment with different approaches and the outcomes they produce.

Your latest song is ‘Riot’. Can you tell us more about the making of it and if there were any unusual things happening during the process?

I actually made “Riot” from another song I had written a while ago! I wanted to finish this one but then realized I just didn’t like it enough. So I changed some harmonies and the vocals, and in the end, it became a whole different tune! I then came up with the hook “Isn’t it a riot?” and from there, I built the lyrics. In the end, “Riot” came along fairly easily. It’s not like that with every song. For my previous release, “Weirdo “, I re-recorded the vocals around 20 times! It was exhausting. Maybe I forced it too much cause I feel when I let go, everything comes much easier.

What was the most difficult challenge you faced?

When it comes to my career, one of the things I found really difficult has been to sit still! I’m hyperactive by nature, so forcing myself to sit for hours to learn producing was hard and also felt counter-intuitive in the beginning. But I knew I had to stick with it to be able to realize my music the way I wanted. Luckily it became easier at one point, and then it became fun!

What is the biggest mistake you have made within your career to this point?

Oh, where to start? Haha, no, but I surely had to learn some lessons. I’d say the biggest mistake I made was listening to the wrong people early on and not being conscious about their motives and competency. For example, when I started getting into music, I had this boyfriend with whom I was working on my songs. He criticized nearly every idea I came up with. At one point, I thought I maybe just wasn’t talented. I was too naive to realize that he just needed to prove himself due to his lack of self-confidence and not because there was so much wrong with my art. I’m open and always want to improve, so I was susceptible -unluckily – also to insincere feedback. But I learned from it. Instead of taming myself to fit some supposed how-to, I now just double down on idiosyncratic ideas. So this experience has, in the end, made me bolder in my approach to music-making. Also, I can smell a person with ego problems from a mile away, haha! So I choose carefully who I listen to. And mostly, I just go with my gut, which usually is the right decision anyways!

How do you know when a work is finished?

At some point, I can feel a song’s “personality”; this is when I know it has found its correct form. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it exudes the character I imagined. In the past, when I worked with producers on my songs, the outcome often sounded “perfect”, but the song’s character was gone entirely or had morphed into something else. Of course, a certain technical and musical level should be acquired, but in the end, I’d choose character over perfection anytime!

What are your long-term goals?

This might sound a bit vague, but my main goal is just happiness and peace of mind! I’m pretty ambitious, but the most important thing for me is to wake up happy in the morning! I need the hustle, but I also need time for just being, and I want to find more balance, to unite work and life in a healthy way.

Do you have a mentor or coach?

I have a bunch of close people in my life with whom I discuss my work. When I learned producing, I als had a mentor who helped me a lot, first of all, with the technical side of music. I’m naturally not-so-technical, so this was crucial! I still talk to him regularly, and he’s been an important part of my journey so far.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I get so much positive feedback and DM’s every day! I honestly didn’t expect that so early on in my career. I’m an indie artist trying to figure it out, so it means a lot to have such a supportive community. One of the best reactions was from somebody who wrote me on Instagram, saying that I had changed his life and through listening to my songs, he’s motivated to go for his purpose!

And finally, what do you hope to have achieved as an artist in the next five years?

Oh, there are quite a few things! To sum it up, I want to continue doing what I do now, just on a bigger scale! I want to improve my craft to become the artist I want to be and then, of course, reach more people. I also would love to have a song of mine in a Netflix series and play some big shows! But I take one step at a time and enjoy the journey.

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