The New Year has arrived and SayWhatNews has started off the new year with a BANG. We were privileged to sit down and speak with an amazing/talented country singer Ryan Laird. His back story is one for the books. Ryan moved from Canada to Nashville to launch his music career and found a very interesting and unique way to get the attention of the music industry and media:
SayWhatNews: Hey Ryan, thanks so much for taking the time and speaking with SayWhatNews. Tell us who is Ryan Laird?
Ryan: Just the boy next door… ha-ha joking… but really I'm a pretty normal guy, I just happen to write and sing songs about almost everything that happens in my life!
SayWhatNews: Ryan, you are originally from Canada. I just have to ask, what was it like being raised on a beef farm in Belwood, Ontario?
Ryan: It was a lot a fun being raised in the middle of nowhere! (he laughs) I remember as a kid in grade school wanting to "live in town" so I could hang with friends after school, but looking back on it, I couldn't ask for a better place to grow up!
SayWhatNews: Did you really have to cut 100 acres of grass as one of your chores? And how often?
Ryan: Well it was a 100 Acre farm, but not all grass, so you could say that's slightly exaggerated ha-ha, but yes I did have a lot of grass to cut and that was my responsibility on the farm.
SayWhatNews: Besides working on a farm, what kind of things did you do for fun?
Ryan: We had a little pond at the back of the farm, so we'd swim, bike, play "hide & go seek" in the trees, and of course have band practice with my siblings in the barn!
SayWhatNews: Speaking of band practice, at what age did you/your family realize your gift of song?
Ryan: My relatives still tell the story of how I could "sing before I spoke". Apparently, when I was a baby, my great grandmother, who was a professional opera singer, would hold me and sing "Jesus Loves Me" and I would hum it back to her! So I think they knew very early on that I would be the musician in the family.
SayWhatNews: Oh how cute! By the age of 10 years old, you were part of a boys choir and toured in England and Wales. How did this come to be?
Ryan: My grandmother and parents took me to an audition for the "Cambridge Kiwanis Boys Choir" at age 10. I ended up staying with the choir for 3 years, starting as a soprano, then an alto and eventually a tenor! The choir traveled to England and Wales to perform in many cathedrals during the summer of my final year.
SayWhatNews: Wow, an experience of a life time. How scary was it for you being a young boy touring over a broad and performing in front of a crowd?
Ryan: I was more excited than scared! My grandparents, mom and 2 siblings actually traveled over their at the same time that summer and came to watch our performances, so family was never too far away!
SayWhatNews: I hear you and your siblings (brother & sister) had a family band. What was the name of your band?
Ryan: Ha-ha, yes we did have a sibling heavy band for quite a few years along with a friend from school… we went by "Ryan & BBK" which stood for their initials.
SayWhatNews: Did you guys play any venues or perform at any talent shows?
Ryan: Yeah, I got 3rd place my first year of high school at the talent show (he laughs), but the band had already been performing at various fall fairs and outdoor summer festivals across Ontario, Canada for a while.
SayWhatNews: Do you have any favorite memories of being in the family band?
Ryan: Probably fighting with my brother to actually sit down at his drum set and practice with us!! We were just kids, and he'd like to skateboard instead of practice, but as we got into our teens he really fell in love with drumming and still does it today!
SayWhatNews: By the age of 13, you recorded your first album in the studio. How do you think that experience helped you with your craft?
Ryan: It was definitely a good learning experience. I mean you'd probably have to pay me a lot of money to play you anything from that album now "Here I Am" (only 500 copies were printed, ha-ha) but getting to work in the studio and the music business at a young age has helped define who I am now.
SayWhatNews: Ryan, you are a very talented singer and guitarist. Do you have any professional training? And do you play any other instruments?
Ryan: Thank you! Yes I received training through the boys choir, classical piano lessons (started at age 5 and stuck with it for quite a few years), and guitar lessons (started at age 7). A lot of what I do and what I've learned has come from being around other great musicians though. Whether live or in the studio, there's nothing like watching and learning!
SayWhatNews: Wow, you have accomplished a lot at a young age: touring over-seas, recording an album and being in the family band. Did you always want to be a singer/song-writer?
Ryan: Yes for as long as I can remember!
SayWhatNews: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Ryan: My influences are very diverse… from my classical training in piano and the choir, to figuring out how to play classic rock and blues tunes (Deep Purple, Stevie Ray Vaughan) on the guitar, to folk/pop acoustic stuff like James Taylor or Paul Simon. I went through a jazz phase too. I really think no matter what style of music you are focusing on, you can learn a lot from listening and studying jazz. More recently I'm into a lot of current artists and songwriters such as John Mayer, Maroon 5, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Jack Johnson etc… I'm always open to anything if it's done well!
SayWhatNews: Speaking of Taylor Swift, I have to ask about the huge billboard you had posted with a message to Taylor Swift. It read: “Taylor, I love your music. Will you produce my album? “ That idea was so creative and completely outside the box. How did you come up with that idea? And did you really spend your life savings on the billboard?
Ryan: Ha-ha, how did I know this question would come!? Basically I'd made the move to Nashville from Canada to pursue my musical dreams, and after talking with my manager, we wanted to come up with an original idea to get me out there. Something no one had done before. Taylor Swift was a huge act and I was, and still am, a fan of her songwriting and records. I had seen a video on youtube of her co-producing her "Fearless" album, and it clicked… why don't I see if she will produce my album! So now I'm thinking, "ok that's great", but how do I get a Number 1 selling artist to produce my album!? So I slept on it and woke up the next morning with the idea of putting up a huge billboard which hung over Music Row in Nashville, asking Taylor to produce my album and putting myspace.com/ryanlaird on it. After I had the idea, I soon found out that billboards don't come cheap, but the company who owned it really supported the idea and gave me a really good deal!
SayWhatNews: The billboard caused a media frenzy on radio and TV. It also opened the doors for you to go on your first media tour which included appearances on CMT, Entertainment Tonight Canada and several radio stations. How amazing was it to see how well the billboard idea paid off?
Ryan: It was a totally awesome experience! Almost everyone we met on the media tour was really supportive of what were trying to do. If nothing else, the story of it opened up a lot of doors to my own original music.
SayWhatNews: How much has your life changed after the billboard? And did you ever speak to Taylor Swift or anyone from her camp about producing your album?
Ryan: I remember the night I found out that Taylor had spoke on E News! in LA about my music and how she had noticed the billboard. It was very exciting! A fan of mine had left a link on my myspace page saying I "had to check this huge news out". So I opened the link and completely freaked out when I heard Taylor's reaction. We were approached from her label for some music shortly after and I began working on my "next move" to try and "one up" myself after the billboard. It can get depressing, but sometimes things can take "forever" and move really slow in the music business, so you just have to keep pushing forward! We are still working on something new that's going to be really cool! Follow my myspace blog for updates on my "new secret"
SayWhatNews: We sure will. Now Ryan, you just recently co-wrote some songs with Tyler Hayes who has worked with artists like Hillary Duff, Rob Thomas and Jesse McCartney. To top that off you also wrote songs with Nick Carter of the Back Street Boys. Is there anyone else you would love to collaborate with?
Ryan: I've really learned a lot and been blessed to work with many great songwriters since coming to Nashville. Co-writing can be such an awesome experience. I've been back in "writing mode" lately and can't wait to share some of my news songs soon! There are too many people out there that I'd love to write with and hopefully will someday!
SayWhatNews: Ryan, you are currently working on your album; do you have a release date yet?
Ryan: Well I have been independently recording songs towards my album with producer Eric Silver. My management are also working on some things and are hoping to secure a record deal soon to assist in finishing and releasing my album! I'll keep you posted on myspace!
SayWhatNews: So, I hear you like to read the dictionary sometimes. What else do you like to do for fun when you are not working hard in the studio?
Ryan: When I'm not working on new songs or playing my guitar, I love to both play and watch basketball and tennis! (the Toronto Raptors are my team Go Raps!)
SayWhatNews: Ok, Ryan here are some more personal questions for your fans. Whose album are you listening to right now that you just cant get enough of?
Ryan: I honestly think the new Keith Urban album is one of his best yet! It sounds a little more '80s influenced than his previous stuff.
SayWhatNews: Agree, Keith Urban latest album is real good. Ok, you have front row tickets to a concert, whose on stage?
Ryan: Hmm…. what a tough question… there are so many…some of these guys have passed on, but it would be amazing to have all these artists on a concert bill:Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Diamond Rio, Vince Gill, Keith Urban, John Mayer, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Backstreet Boys (gotta have a little of that 90's boy-band pop sound ha-ha), Colbie Caillet and Taylor Swift.
SayWhatNews: Now that would be a very interesting and entertaining concert. What was the last movie you saw?
Ryan: Couples Retreat!
SayWhatNews: A comedy flick, ok. You have a craving for your favorite food, what is it?
Ryan: Fresh Fruit salad (blueberries, grapefruit, apples, the whole works!!!)
SayWhatNews: What is in the future for Ryan Laird?
Ryan: Lot's of recorded music, whether it's albums or iTunes singles ha-ha, and lot's of live touring!
Ryan Laird Myspace