Describing Ryahn's debut EP as "confessional" is maybe an oversimplification that's too reductive of its reach. "Instructive" might be closer to the truth.
Light Blue, the first EP from the singer-songwriter behind "Popstar" and "Studio," isn't only an intimate space she's sharing with the listener; it's also a personal meditation on the darkness she continues to overcome. On "The Promise," one of the album's two spoken interludes, she pledges herself to this survival: "I wanted to expand and learn how to comfort myself. I decided that when the day came, I would feel alive again, and my happiness would be light blue, like the sky." There's a patience that Ryahn is willing to show herself here, allowing room for recovery and understanding with a gentle and illuminating sonic touch. It's a rare sound to hear, especially on an artist's debut.
There is a lot of pain present on this EP, but Ryahn navigates it with a gentle confidence. Her poetic lyricism and inscrutable style keep Light Blue centered on her as both narrator and character. The effect is mesmerizing: "Sad Boy," the EP's lead single, cuts like soft grunge, while "Peace of Mind" feels like a bare bones rendition of '90s R&B, but Ryahn makes sure the stories she tells—of loneliness, want, grief, and heartbreak—never outpace her tempo. Ryahn spoke to Popdust about what went into the making of Light Blue, her intentions for the project, and the journey she took to get here.
Light Blue is your debut project, and it only features one previous single you've released before. Did making Light Blue feel like a bit of a fresh start?
Totally! I feel like Light Blue is the end of a very intense chapter in my life where I grew and learned so much about myself as a person. Sharing Light Blue is a new beginning for me and a way to let go of all the feelings I kept inside for so long. I definitely see this EP as a brand new era in my music and a fresh start in my journey in general. It's my first project ever, and I'm very proud of all the work that was put into this.
You play fast and loose with the EP's feel, the cadence and tone of your voice, and the production and genre of each song. What does it mean for you to have such a wide reach in your sound?
I grew up listening to a really broad array of music 'cause my parents were total music heads and pretty much incorporated it into our everyday family life...It's important to me to stay true to my identity without conforming to any one box or label, especially when it comes to my creativity. I love that about my music, and I get to feel so many different things through it.
There are two or three moments on "Light Blue," the title track, where it suddenly feels like you've slipped into a different song. What went into the process of structuring it?
"Light Blue" is a song where I just let all of the emotions I felt flow out of me and things sort of fell into place. The song's many textures I see as being symbolic of the different stages in the journey I've been on over the last three years. Creating it was a mini-revelation for me about where I was and where I wanted to be.
There's such a sense of sonic clarity on the EP, but the lyrics reflect these moments of insecurity and self-doubt. How do you understand the relationship between your sound and your lyrics, and what they do for each other?
I have always loved having brutally honest moments in my lyrics and music. It's freeing to be able to say something that not a lot of people know or I don't usually feel comfortable sharing. I see music as a safe space for me to be honest with myself and my listeners. Passionate, honest lyrics are always the first thing that catch my attention about the songs that I love, so I really wanted to share some of my darker moments that inspired me to write this EP. I wanted this project to sound like the bright start of a morning with endless possibilities after a long weary night. It's kind of like a promise to my old self that brighter days were on the way.
Love and desire show up on nearly every song; sometimes it's "Watching Waiting" where it's light and sweet, sometimes it's "Sad Boy" where wanting someone feels like pain. If Light Blue is about feeling alive again, feeling light blue again, how do these different loves play into this story for you?
There are so many shades of love. Love is such a big part of existence, so it was important to incorporate it in my story for "Light Blue." There's self-love, love for a friend or family, desire and lust, loss of love. "Watching and Waiting" is written more about an unrequited love, "Sad Boy" is about a deeply passionate love that you have to let go of in pain, whereas "Light Blue" is about my relationship with myself and my world.
The spoken interludes, "The Journey" and "The Promise," feel like pieces of a larger story that you're letting the listener in on. What is it about that moment, you looking at the sky, that you want the listener to understand?
The interludes tell a story about a time where I was at my lowest. I had just lost my father to cancer and I didn't really have much hope or incentive to keep going. My family's always been such a close-knit entity, so it was the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with, and I'm still healing. At the time, I was going through a period of depression, self-doubt, and even hatred, and I just felt like my soul was on fire. Playing my guitar in the mornings while taking in the sky became a big part of my healing, and I look at it as a form of therapy, because it actually saved me from myself. I hope the interludes let anyone who's going through hell right now know that they're not alone and that they can make it to the other side.