Something special: Get to know songwriter & producer Jeremy Ryan
Jeremy Ryan is a musical renaissance man. Over the course of the last two decades, Ryan has collaborated with some of the biggest names and brands in popular culture, including the NBA and James Brown’s estate. His songwriting and producing talents have landed him on two Grammy ballots, and he’s been getting even more attention for his work on the recent single “The Answers”.
“The Answers” is featured on the soundtrack for the film Max Winslow and the House of Secrets (2020). Ryan co-produced and co-wrote the single with Cooper Anderson and singer Emery Kelly, which was up for “Best Original Song” consideration at the 93rd Academy Awards.
Film Daily had the pleasure of chatting with Jeremy Ryan about his musical career, his collaborative process, and his desire to give back with the Jeremy Ryan Music “School of Sound”. Here’s what he had to say:
Tell us about your history in music. How did you start your journey?
My professional career began in 2008 when I cofounded my first production company called Pop Rocks Records with Cooper Anderson. The journey has been quite successful working with some of the biggest names in the industry such as the James Brown family, Hollywood Records (Disney), and the NBA.
Do you write songs with specific singers or a specific vocal style in mind?
I write songs specifically for the project. So, if I have to study an artist and their vocal ability or their style, I will do so.
You’ve penned songs for various film & TV soundtracks. Does writing for a soundtrack require a different skill set then writing other kinds of music?
Yes. With sync placements for film, you have to read a script and get into that character and see the scene that that song will be written for, so you’re coming at it in a whole new creative way.
You co-wrote the Emery Kelly song “The Answers” for the Max Winslow and the House of Secrets soundtrack. What was the inspiration behind the song’s lyrics?
The inspiration behind the song lyrics were determined by the character, which was portrayed as a bully in the movie, so we decided to create an anti-bully song for the moment in the film when the character realizes that he didn’t have to be one anymore.
You worked on the song with Kelly and fellow producer Cooper Anderson. Can you tell us a little bit about this collaboration process?
Cooper Anderson is a producing genius. Emery Kelly is a near-to-flawless vocalist. My job was pretty easy.
Do you prefer to write by yourself or with outside collaborators?
Creating music with other writers is always a learning experience. You find new techniques and formulations that you wouldn’t think of, but I find myself most of the time writing by myself mostly due to the project at hand.
Does your approach to making music differ depending on the genre?
“The Answers” was considered for a 2021 Oscar nomination. How does it feel when a song of yours connects on such a universal level?
Pretty surreal. It is definitely quite the accomplishment that I am super proud to be a part of.
You are the founder of the Jeremy Ryan Music “School of Sound”. Do you feel it’s your duty to use your successful platform to mentor the artists of tomorrow?
Yes, indeed. We are at the mercy of our youth, and I feel that it is my obligation if only one music loving soul can grow up to be the next Bob Dylan or the next Alicia Keys.
Have you worked with mentors in the past? How would you recommend people go about finding them?
I’ve had a lot of different mentors, to say the least. My advice would be to surround yourself in the company of the career you seek. This is when you will find the right people to look up to.
Some actors are famous for not watching their own work. Do you like listening to your own songs and lyrics after you’ve completed them?
No, I play my songs on repeat. One thing that I do after recording a song is playing it multiple times to hear ways that I can make it better. So, I’d like to thank my family and friends who put up with listening to my music over and over on car rides, house speakers, phone speakers, or whatever device I can find.
You recently partnered with Deanna Brown Thomas of the James Brown family to launch the production company, Brown Light Productions. How did your partnership come about?
I met Mrs. Brown during New York fashion week where she and I were both involved in the production of the show. From there, we went on with a professional relationship that led us to remake one of her father’s songs, “Get Up Offa That Thang”, which was very successful. Fast forward to 2020, we decided to team up and create a filming production company, “Brown Light Productions”, which is set to create movie, television, and docuseries content.
How does Brown Light Productions differ from your other successful production company, Sound Entertainment?
Brown Light is for filming, and Sound Entertainment is for music.
You’ve had success as both a songwriter & producer. Do you prefer one over the other?
For me, the two coexist hand in hand.
Is there an artist or songwriter you’d like to work with?
I’ll say it again, Paul McCartney, I just want to hear some cool stories. Hit me up Paul!
Name the most important thing you want viewers to experience when listening to your music.
The emotion that the song delivers. Whether happy, sad, inspired… if the words are powerful enough, it shouldn’t matter what genre of music it comes from, it will hit the soul.
What would you consider your biggest failure? What did you learn?
It’s been an uphill climb, but fortunately I can say that all things I have strived for, thus far, have been somewhat or at all successful. Please don’t jinx me!
What about your greatest success?
Success is all about how you perceive it. Supporting myself and my family by doing what I love to do is success to me.
Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on producing my first feature film with Brown Light Productions, plus I will be producing the soundtrack as well. There are really big names attached to this script, which I am not able to mention just yet, but I am excited to make the announcement very soon. This one’s going to be something special.
What advice do you have for aspiring songwriters?
Believe in what you write about. Whether it’s your situation or not, someone is going through what story you’re telling.