Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

RY X on his second album landing tomorrow, "you create this thing and then you set it free"

14 February 2019, 14:33 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

With RY X's second full-length Unfurl just around the corner, we catch up with the multi-talented Australian on the process behind his album, and his huge Royal Albert Hall show in October.

RY X's debut record Dawn arrived in 2016, and cemented his intimate delivery as an artist, and ability to contribute to his own craft in more ways than one.

Unfurl, his second effort, is hours away from arriving. So far we've heard singles "Foreign Tides” (below), “Water”, “Bound”, “YaYaYa”, and "Untold", all of which hold a clear connection to the earth's elements.

As the multi-talented musician is gearing up for release and heading back on the road, we catch up with him to talk about his new record process, and the excitement of his forthcoming projects and shows.

BEST FIT: Your second album title Unfurl means to be rolled /spread out from a folded state, especially in order to be open to the wind - how did that name come to you? Or what struck you must about that word and made you choose it as an album title?

RY X: Naming a record is hard because it’s like how do you encapsulate the whole feeling of like a year’s worth of work, or a year-and-a-half’s worth of work, and all the experiences that have gone into it. What I started doing is kind of hunting through the lyrics, and looking at words that have come out of me subconsciously and trying to find and feel what really resonated. I came up with a list of different things and I just kept coming back to that word because it kind of just spoke about the process which is to bloom, to blossom in a way, to grow, and expand into new territory a little bit, and new ideas sonically, and also new ideas emotionally, spiritually within the works. For me the title just really about that kind of opening, and yeah, letting it go. Once you make an album it doesn’t really belong to you anymore - or that’s how I feel about it. It belongs to everyone else, so it’s almost like you create this thing and then you set it free.

I think second records are quite challenging, at least for me it felt that way. Making a second record, you develop a connection with people and a line of trust with people, and then you want to expand it and you want to grow, but you also don’t want to fuck with that trust that you’re building with people either.

Some of the tracks we’ve heard so far from the record “Foreign Tides”/“Water”/“Bound”/“YaYaYa” all have quite a connection to the earth’s elements, and you’ve said that you allow your songwriting process to be quite free - would you say nature has quite an impact on this record?

Yeah naturally. I can do it in a city as well, but there’s something about deciding to recluse in the mountains a little bit where I live, and to connect a lot with the ocean and to go walking in the mountains, and kind of come back to a groundedness of who you are without all your social constructs, who you are without the city around you, and just coming back to a sense of humility and quiet, and in some ways peace too - or not peace sometimes when you sit alone, sometimes it’s not peaceful. But definitely wherever you are and your environment starts to play a big role in what you’re creating and how you create it.

The elemental stuff is interesting, as a word there’s it’s something I’ve said quite a lot in some of the visual making, like a lot of the next videos that are coming out are very based on elemental stuff, so it’s kind of becoming a theme through the work and I like to allow the space for those things to come out of a time. Something, even like the word “elemental”, doesn’t just happen, it’s an ongoing process between nature and its surrounds. It’s a little bit like me and my creative process, it’s a continual unfolding, and connection to nature, and even people as part of nature - it’s definitely a really interesting thing to explore.

Do you think that because you’ve travelled and lived in various places that has quite a strong hold on your music?

Yeah, I’ve travelled all around the world, and I’ve had a lot of different experiences. That has a huge influence on who you are, not only creatively, but who you are as a person. With the work that I make, I just try and get really raw and stripped, and honest with the work that I make in reference to who I am as a person, so all that travel is a huge part of my life, and you know, being on tour. It’s part of my life to be away from home for six months a year sometimes, or more, so you have to create the idea of home within yourself and know how to find those little homes all over the world and create those too, and find places that you really resonate with, and know where to run when it’s all a bit too much.

Creating an album must be a huge learning curve, both personally and musically - is there anything significant that you took away from this album process that will really stick with you?

Definitely. Quite often a process, well the journey, is the journey to a destination, but in this case the process is almost more informative than the whole. I think where I got to lean into creatively on this record, in terms of exploring different ideas and sonic scapes, and what I explored in myself during that time, I definitely think that helps define who I am and what I carry with me. At the same time I think part of creating this record was also wanting to break a few moulds and allow a lot of spaciousness for what I created to come. Obviously I have multiple projects with The Acid and Howling and other things but I think it’s really important for me to be able to continue to be free as an artist, and I really wanted to create that kind of line of sight so that I can continue to create. What I’ve created will come with me and what is before me next is this beautiful, unexplored territory.

You’ve previously said that your album making process is something you prefer to do mainly on your own - how do you experiment with the instruments - have you taught yourself or do you enlist the help of others at that point?

To be honest with this record I really kept it quite intimate, between myself and one other player, we did every instrument on the record apart from the strings. There was some part of me that wanted to keep this process very raw and very “of me” in a way. I really focused on pushing my boundaries and playing all of the percussion, creating drum machines and doing the beats and everything myself, and then directing the guy in my band who came in, directing his playing in a gentle way too. A lot of it was just my visioning and getting my vision out to the pallete. I produced everything too so it was really just me, my engineer, and one other person in the studio that came in and out. It was a very small team and a very insular process, but that allows it to be that intimate sound, and raw, honest performances. If there’s too many people in the studio and too much direction, yes it can make a great record, but it would’ve been very different. For this I wanted to retain that sense of closeness, but maybe in the future I’ll want to open that up a bit more.

Are there any parts of the record that stand out to you? If so, why?

You have your favourites. Quite often the parts that stand out to me aren’t the parts that will for everybody else, but those things do align as well, and those are really special moments. I like letting the work go and allowing people to resonate with the stuff that they really love and connect to it in their own way. I don’t even really like to think of songs as singles too much, I just like to share different parts of the record.

Moving it into a live context - I always change the songs, they have the same essence but I always expand them at the end, so that will be a new learning curve, finding out how some of these songs really blossom when they’re played over seven or eight minutes instead of three or four, and where they can go. That’s where I find a lot more essence in the work. It’s also nice to close the chapter of recording and saying “I’m done” because leaving that portal open is quite exhausting and you could just keep going forever. I’m still creating for The Acid record and for Howling and other projects, so it was quite nice to close that chapter and really focus on the live show and remixes, and a whole bunch of different stuff - it’s pretty nonstop, but to think ok, the recording is done, now I can continue to focus on how to share this in other ways, it’s very multi-faceted when you’re putting a record out.

What artists are you really enjoying at the moment?

There’s a lot of music I follow, but I’m really into modern minimal composers a lot. I think what Nils Frahm’s done on his latest sharing has been really amazing and beautiful, and a nice growth from his first works. There’s a guy, Joep Beving, who’s a beautiful modern minimal composer I’ve been listening to a lot. I also listen to a lot of weird drone music. For example my Spotify recommends is just the most random, weird droney, minimal composers, and then thrown in with some African music, so I don’t listen to a lot of traditional releases, but I’ve always got my finger on the pulse of the stuff that I really love. And I love hearing little bits and pieces coming out, like that latest James Blake record. I’m a fan, but I also like to study and explore it because it’s part of my craft, and they’re my peers. I get to hang with these people and know them in different ways, and when they put out records I lean in and listen to what they’re doing and I feel like it overwhelms me but it’s different to really study it, in a beautiful way. There’s also this young artist that I took on tour who just put out a record called Josin, and she’s like a female Radiohead - I was going to take her on tour actually but she was busy doing her own shows. I love to just keep up. Tons of African music, tons of modern minimal composers, and y’know, good old techno!

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I’m trying to look forward to all of it. The touring is exhausting but some of the shows are really magical. I would say this tour that I’m about to do I’m really excited about - across Europe. The thing I’m so excited about in terms of shows is Royal Albert Hall in October. It’s such a monumental thing to do, and I feel really really humbled to play there and to have the LCO (London Contemporary Orchestra) come back with me and play that show - I might even integrate a choir or something else as well. I’m really excited to play that space and when I get to do those kind of things I just feel incredibly humbled that I’m there and that I’m supported in London that way.

Now that this record is done I’m also really looking forward to finishing records with The Acid and Howling, and changing to the production mindset and making some more weird, deeper heavier stuff as a producer. I’ve got some remixes coming up at the moment, I’m doing one for Ólafur Arnalds that I’m excited about, so there’s a lot of beautiful stuff on the horizon, and just trying to find the time and spaciousness to tackle it all, and find the joy and community and health in the middle of it all too.

Having multiple projects on the go must allow you a bit of a breather from your own work?

Yeah it does, it’s really cool how you can transfer the energy. You don’t just shut down your creative energy and then go on tour. For me, I’m taking recording gear on this tour so I can work on these remixes and work on another remix for Frank Wiedemann and the guys there, and then work on Howling and The Acid records while I’m on tour. Keeping working and keeping exploring, and opening those channels and seeing what comes is kind of my favourite part, being in that deep creative fire.

RY X's second album Unfurl lands tomorrow (15 February) via Infectious. RY X plays biggest London headline performance to date on 14 October at Royal Albert Hall. He will be touring the UK this month. Find out more.
Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next