Posted On 20 Jul 2017
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist David Ryan Harris always sings, writes, and performs with soul. Whether it be in early bands such as Follow For Now and Brand New Immortals or over the course of six full-length solo albums, he tells stories that resonate.
He’s carried this same spirit while performing with the likes of John Mayer, Dave Matthews, and Santana or producing for Cassandra Wilson and Guy Sebastian— with whom he co-wrote the RIAA platinum-certified “Battle Scars.”
His most recent album, “Songs For Other People” was released on June 23rd and it was culled from his collaborations with a multitude of co-writers over the past year and features the talents of drummer Terrence Clark, keyboard player Zac Rae, cellist Keith Tutt, and GRAMMY Award-winning producer Mike Elizondo on bass (Eminem, Dr. Dre, Fiona Apple, Maroon 5).They cut the album’s seven jams in less than three weeks’ time during 2016. Between returning to the road on guitar duty for John Mayer in 2017, Harris will be performing across North America on solo shows.
Learn more about David Ryan Harris in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What’s a song you loving these days?
I’m actually on vacation at the moment down in the Gulf of Mexico. I’m listening to Little Big Town’s “The Breaker.” I really love this record. It’s like arena pop/rock greatness from the 70’s in the best ways possible.
How is 2017 treating you so far? Did you approach the start of this year any differently then you did last year? What have been some of the highlights for you this year?
So far 2017 has been great! It was great starting the year knowing that “Songs For Other People” was already mixed, mastered and ready to go. I’m touring again with John Mayer for a lot of this year and the start of the tour has been a lot of fun. I played my first ever (sold out) show in Amsterdam and played 2 sold out LP release shows in LA.
Let’s talk about your new forthcoming album, “Songs For Other People” that you will be releasing later this month. What was it like putting this collection together? What was the overall inspiration for it?
The overall idea/inspiration for this record had to do with me wanting to have a batch of fictional musical short stories. This record actually came together really quickly. It was much easier to pull this one together than my last few records which was refreshing to say the least.
What are some songs on this album you are particularly excited to share with your fans?
I really love the story of “Coldplay” and how it plays out. It was a fun challenge figuring out how to have that couple’s relationship to Coldplay the band frame the entirety of their relationship together and even inform their lives apart.
Can you talk about the writers and musicians you worked with on this album? How did you go about selecting these people?
Terence Clark who played drums on all but one track was really the catalyst. He had sent in an audition video for another project that I was thinking about doing. I loved his playing immediately but the engines cooled on the project overall and I got busy doing other stuff. I’d never reached out to him to tell him that I loved his playing, but he approached me at a store in Nashville and I vowed to contact him. I saw him play with Gungor in LA and I was floored and inspired to get started!
Mike Elizondo played bass. He’s one of the nicest people on the planet and a monster bassist. He’d offered to play if I ever needed him, so I jumped at the chance to have him play.
Keith Tutt played cello. He plays a lot with John Foreman from Switchfoot. He really helped bring the melancholy.
Zac Rae played keys. I’ve had Zac play on lots of stuff over the years. He always glues everything together in the most elegant way.
How do you think you have grown as an artist on this new collection? How has your music-making process changed?
More than anything I’ve learned to trust my process more. I’ve learned that I do have a sound of my own and that I’ve been able to curate a set of ingredients and influences that are relatively unique.
Where do you think you are happiest- on stage performing, recording music in the studio or elsewhere?
I love the creative/experimental aspects of the studio. I could live there forever. I love the high-wire aspect of playing live too. I guess my career is a constant re-balancing of those two aspects.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Bill Withers for both.
What advice would you give to a young person who is considering getting into a music career path?
FIND YOUR VOICE. WHO YOU LOVE AND WHO YOU ARE ARE VERY SELDOM THE SAME.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I don’t think that far down the line. I just want people to listen. It’s equal parts therapy for myself and a gift to whatever part of the universe chooses to unwrap it.
(All photography credit- Shervin Lainez)