We got a chance to sit down with Phoebe Ryan and discussed her move to LA, her love of R. Kelly and her brief appearance on American Idol.
Upcoming singer-songwriter, Phoebe Ryan, took the world by storm with her mashup/cover of “Ignition/Do You,” and hasn’t cooled down since. After the cover, Phoebe has released two original tracks, “Mine,” and “Dead,” both continuing to build upon the hype.
You grew up in the small town of Sea Bright NJ, the home of 1,400 residents, and have since lived in two of the largest cities in America, Brooklyn & LA. How hard has it been adjusting to the change of scenery and city life?
It wasn’t too crazy, growing up we went away a lot. On weekends we would sneak into city and try to get into clubs. New York City was basically already home for me, it was only a train ride away, so it was an easy move. Los Angeles was a crazy switch from NYC. A lot crazier, but it’s perfect. I live with my best friends, we have puppies, and I have birds, it’s a little family.
Blogs all over the web are comparing your vocals to one Swedish artist in particular, and it happens to be your touring partner, Tove Lo. She actually tweeted about your song “Mine,” when it premiered and expressed her love for the song. Did she reach out to you after that about opening for her? How did that come about?
It’s a bizarre story. My producer Kyle Shearer was working in the studio with Tove for her new project, and Kyle calls me and says “Tove wants to meet you.” I called a cab and drove across town to meet her right away. I had margaritas with her, and it was awesome. If I’m getting compared to her, I’m glad.
The “Ignition/Do You” cover topped the Hype Machine charts, and now over 600K plays just on Soundcloud alone. How did you decide on these two songs to mash-up? Are there any other mash-up/covers you’d like to record?
I was in Nashville with Kyle, figuring out the vibe of the project. He’s really good out pulling out the best in artists. He knew I loved R Kelly, and that I listened to Miguel. He used a sample of a Ke$ha song, and then we threw R Kelly, and Miguel on it and just went for it. We wanted it to have its own separate vibe of the original songs, yet an original sound for us.
I’m not sure on what the next cover will be, but I want to do something pop. Maybe Britney Spears, but make it a crazy weird pop vibe.
Speaking of your love for R. Kelly, rumor has it your favorite song of his is “Text Me.” What can you tell us about that?[Laughs] Oh you found that? That was when I was at NYU. I met those guys freshman year and we played together until junior year. We didn’t get that much attention, it just wasn’t what everyone was really into. It was definitely a left wing folky vibe. Even though I was making that music, I always loved pop music. I think it was my contribution, saying, “We have to make it a little less weird.”
I love folk. I learned about songwriting at the time. We toured around the country, and it was a DIY band. We did our own management, publishing, distribution, and recording. I got to learn a lot about the business, while still ‘me’ and doing what makes me happy.
Before releasing your own recordings, you were a part of the songwriting for Oh Honey’s “Be Okay” & Bea Miller’s “Young Blood.” Two completely different styles of music, but we can hear similarities in the lyrics, as well as those of your own songs. Each song you’ve written has an optimistic look at life, despite the hardships we encounter. What gave you such a positive look on life?
I have to try really hard to be a positive person. I think it’s a muscle reaction. You have to keep the memory of the positive in your mind. I’ve been so sad before, and realized how big of a waste of time it was. It doesn’t only affect you; it affects everybody, your family and friends. I’ve learned a lot, and best way to function is to put good energy.
Many people aren’t aware you auditioned season 8 of American Idol. We tried tracking down the audition tape of you singing Norah Jones, but could only find the clip of you leaving during Hollywood week. Which of her songs did you audition with and what made you choose that song?
Want to know a funny story about that? I walked into audition room, and started singing an original and they told me to sing a real song. I sang “Don’t Know Why,” (the most white girl song ever) and Simon asked me “Are you trying to impersonate Norah?” I said, “No I sound better.”
I was 16, and my parents made me do it. They called me the night before audition, and told me to go to the IZOD center the next day for the audition. I was waiting for 9 hours, and really wanted to just go home. I got through and finally was about to audition, and got really addicted to it all.
Also in the same season of Idol, was Devon Baldwin, another upcoming artist in the R&B and pop world. She’s worked G-Eazy, and your friend Skizzy Mars. Such a coincidence that you both were on the same season, and now are working with the same circle. Did you two ever interact during the show, or even now?
Wow, really? I never knew that. That is crazy. I actually just met her last week at SXSW in Austin. That’s so bizarre.
Your most recent song “Dead” has gotten a lot of praise over the last three weeks, and its well deserved. Any details on upcoming singles or the album?
The video is now out, and after the video there will of course be more and more music.