Posted On 31 Jan 2017
On the heels of a critically-acclaimed EP, four #1’s on Hype Machine, topping the Spotify viral charts and grabbing the Zane Lowe stamp of approval, Mating Ritual will release their debut album “How You Gonna Stop It?” as two six-track volumes in 2017. Volume 1 came out on January 24th and it features the explosive title track and a full range of Ryan Lawhon’s musical genius.
Ryan’s inability to sit still was the driving force behind the new album. After the hiatus of his prior band Pacific Air, he cranked up his songwriting prolificacy and found immense freedom in the world of independent recording and created what he calls Post-Genre-Pop under the alias Mating Ritual.
The album was recorded over a two year period in apartments, garages and lofts all over Los Angeles county, as well as several traditional studios and one five-day cruise to Puerto Vallarta. The end result was a collection of songs that juxtaposes vision and clarity with varying fidelity and grit to create an unexpected textural experience.
Learn more about Mating Ritual in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that 2016 is over, what are some words you would use to describe the year? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music? What are you most excited about for 2017? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?
2016 was… unpredictable, draining, enlightening. For me it was an awakening of sorts that the community and opinions I’ve surrounded myself with isn’t the reality of the world (or country) that we actually live in. That said, personally it was a great year for me. I released an EP, finished Mating Ritual’s debut album and wrote my favorite song I’ve ever written. I’ve spent the past few years tinkering in the studio and songwriting for TV and film, so I can’t wait to spend 2017 being in a band again and doing the things that bands do; releasing a full album, touring, seeing the world from inside a cramped van. I’ve never been a resolution guy, but the past few years my goal has been to not move apartments or cities, and I’m gonna try to keep that going through 2018.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall some of your first musical memories?
Music for me has always been connected to the time/place that I heard it, for better or for worse. I’d say my earliest musical memory comes in the back seat of my family’s forest green Astrovan driving up the 101 somewhere near Crescent City listening to Celestial Soda Pop by Ray Lynch. Every time I hear those abrupt synth string plucks I’m immediately taken back to those uncomfortable cloth seats in the third row of a 10 hour drive, a trip my brother and I try to recreate every year.
I’m curious to know why you decided to not go by your own name? How did you come up with Mating Ritual as your alias?
Using my real name never occurred to me when I was in the early stages of MR. I’ve always loved how much a band name can convey before you’ve heard or seen anything the artist has done so using my name has never really been of much interest to me. The name Mating Ritual came on another car trip down the 395 during a long conversation/rant with my brother about how modern dating lifestyles have ruined the way I approach relationships. 3 years and countless dating apps later my opinion remains unchanged.
How different is the sound of Mating Ritual compared to your prior band, Pacific Air? How is the sound on your debut album different than anything you’ve released as a solo artist?
Pacific Air only existed for less than a year and a half, and all the songs were written in about 2 months time, so
it has this concise verby/chill vibe to the whole thing. With Mating Ritual I wanted to expand to new sonic
landscapes, specifically experiment with more aggressive sounds and tempos than I had with PA. MR’s debut record is the most diverse album I’ve ever released, with the first few tracks acting as an overture for the themes you’ll be hearing over the next 40 minutes.
Later this month, you will be releasing your debut album, “How You Gonna Stop It?.” Can you talk about putting this collection together? What was the inspiration for these songs?
My biggest goal with this album, and with Mating Ritual as a whole, has been to not rush anything. I want to let these songs develop naturally and evolve with me as I do, instead of try to nail a specific sound or stick to a certain concept. There’s nothing more rewarding unlocking a song’s potential through a mistake or unplanned tangent, and this collection embodies me allowing the songs to dictate themselves without me forcing my preconceived ideas into them.
I understand that this album was recorded all over LA and even on one five-day cruise to Puerto Vallarta! What was it like recording it all these different settings?
I believe that the setting in which you are writing/recording has an immense impact on the music you make, and more than just sonically. Of course certain rooms/hallways will give you different recording sounds, but location/surrounding affects my mood and that eventually becomes the song itself. My goal has always been to create songs that someone can visually connect to a time or place in their lives like have done with my childhood. On a simply engineering technical level though, recording on a cruise ship sucks and I don’t recommend it to anyone. Editing drum patterns on a small screen is a quick way to end up with your head in a toilet.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you all still love to work with in the future?
I continue to find new inspiration in Spoon. In high school I might have never thought I’d be saying they’re one of my favorite bands, but they continue to release great albums that value the songwriting as much as the production. I’d love to work with Jim Eno or Dave Fridmann in any capacity.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I think great songwriting transforms a normal moment into one worth remembering. I hope my music can do the same. Even the most mundane tasks (or drives) can shape your life with the right soundtrack.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
I love to eat, and I don’t mean in front of the tv with a bag of chips (though I definitely do that). I love eating unique and memorable meals where you can taste the personality and history of the chef. This doesn’t always mean four dollar sign meals either, some of my favorite food has been from street carts and gas stations. That said, I spend way too much money on fine dining and wine. I guess that could be a resolution.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers regarding yourself or your music?
Come to a show if you can. Mating Ritual becomes a completely different entity in a live setting and I think it’s the best way to experience these songs. On a more social note, let’s try harder to be less judgmental of others, especially online. Just because someone’s opinions vary from yours doesn’t discredit them as people.