After a decade of solo acoustic gigs, Ryan Gay makes his debut with infectious indie-folk single ‘Down’

After a decade of solo acoustic gigs, Ryan Gay makes his debut with infectious indie-folk single ‘Down’

Words by Talia Rinaldo

The highly-anticipated debut from Ryan Gay is finally here.

Earning himself a solid reputation within the local music scene over the past decade under his solo acoustic moniker ‘Knot’, Central-Victorian artist Ryan Gay positions himself as a distinguished songwriter, a remarkable singer and a respected musician with his debut single ‘Down’.

While Knot allowed him to establish himself as a resounding talented musician, ‘Down’ offers Ryan his moment to shine.

In just the opening few seconds, Ryan delivers an epic introduction that symbolises this new chapter, surging with absolute confidence. Drawing you in with energetic guitar riffs and compelling, vibrant beats (in a Red Hot Chili Pepper kind of fashion), Ryan immediately hooks you with his irresistibly crisp soft-rock vocals.

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Creating a smooth and nostalgic melody, the track toys with indie-folk elements, transcendent hooks, and steady beats that blend perfectly with a bright blues-esque chorus.

While the melodies are sensational, the rhythmics are monumental and the riffs are so catchy that it creates perfect and unique alchemy, when you remove them all and focus instead on Ryan’s words you can hear the very soul of the track.

With a sincere yet soulful vocal style, Ryan proves himself as both a mature lyricist and incredible vocalist, effortlessly hitting some ripping vocal lines and flourishes that really draw you into the song’s melody and lyrics. The range of notes he continuously hits is typically on the higher end of the scale, and he isn’t afraid to hold them out on numerous occasions.

Mixed and mastered to perfection by local legend Isaac Barter and arranged and executed with virtuoso pop-rock precision, ‘Down’ channels the raw energy of frustration and despair often felt in the strange and daunting time between the major relationships in your life.

“I was dating a backpacker at the time I wrote ‘Down’ and the tune and lyrics came out pretty naturally over the course of an afternoon (which isn’t always the case). I find that if a song doesn’t feel honest or endearing it won’t move me enough to want to perform it (or even finish it), so for me, it is absolutely crucial that it meant something to me,” Ryan explains.

“I think there are plenty of songs out there about love and loss, but nowhere near as many about the uncertain time in your life between major relationships, I think ‘Down’ simply embodied a lot of what I was feeling at the time.”

Despite having written a slew of songs over the years, ‘Down’ was the first to make it into the studio, having been written back in 2019. Forced into studio time in 2020 by the current global circumstances and the industry’s collective inability to play any live shows, the musician spent the last year mastering his craft and refining it into his own unique sound.

Taking inspiration from an ever-changing spread of influences traversing Jeff Buckley, Hozier, The Lumineers, James Bay, Anderson Paak and Rufus Du Sol, Ryan is not bound by any genre and intends to push the boundaries of his dynamic, chameleon-like sound.  His debut already boasts indie-pop sounds, acoustic foundations and a splash of R&B, and this is just merely the beginning for the artist.

“I know the term is overused but my music tastes are super eclectic. My brother and I grew up listening to Video Hits and Rage on repeat. Music was always playing at our house, and even though there were no musicians in the family I feel we’ve always been music appreciators. I think most memorably growing up it was Queen’s greatest hits playing every other day.”

Although primarily an acoustic singer-songwriter at heart, Ryan evidently has no problem exploring the sonic possibilities and creative soundscapes of the modern studio.

“I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to my sound and song writing. I’ve been DJing for years and still manage to find songs that I absolutely love in almost every genre. I love the saying: “if it sounds good, it is good”.

“That’s how I’m aiming to find my sound, I just know when I like something! I already know what is and isn’t capable with my acoustic sound from the gig circuit, but in the studio, I’m super happy to explore some more experimental vibes and see where they land. If I don’t like the sound I’ll just take it back to the drawing board until I love what comes out.”

Hailing from Rushworth, Ryan began singing when he was just 18 years old, where he looks back and describes himself as “exceptionally average to say the least”. It wasn’t until Ryan was at university in Bendigo that he took a deep dive into the world of music after a successful (albeit intoxicated) night busking on the streets.

“Honestly never in my wildest dreams did I expect to play music, even well into my teenage years.

“I probably first started trying to sing when I was about 18, but I finished school and really didn’t do anything musically until a random night pre-drinking at University in Bendigo ended up as a late-night drunken busk with some friends that ended quite well. We made well over a hundred dollars that night and the rest was history!”

Since then, Ryan’s passion for music was ever-evolving and after roughly a decade of gigging around the traps and developing a penchant for interesting and unique rhythms, his debut release (and forthcoming releases to come) will lift him from weddings and bars to the bright lights of mainstream success.

With summer on the way, this is one edgy yet chilled tune you can certainly picture being played on repeat with the sun beating down and an ice-cold one in your hand.

Check it out on Spotify here and keep up with the latest from Ryan Gay here.