I wanted to wish you the merriest and most beautiful Christmas and holiday yet!! I hope it’s absolutely wonderful for you and yours!
Just wanted to send over 2 quick little reminders…
LAST MINUTE GIFTS?
If you’re still looking for a last-minute Christmas gift idea (as I usually am), Gift Passports (Subscriptions) to my newly announced project Atlas are available right now!! Sign your friend up to receive 28+ new songs periodically throughout 2013! Digital versions and CD+Digital versions available!
To order, just click on the Passport version you want, select the “Gift Option” from the menu, check out, print the Gift Certificate attachment that immediately gets emailed to you, and Ta-da! Christmas has been saved! All in a matter of minutes.
2. If you’re still adding songs to your Christmas and Holiday playlists, now’s the last chance to grab this year’s “Christmas Collection” before it goes into hiding ’til next year! Featuring 11 traditional Christmas songs, along with my original Christmas song “Snow” all for FREE thanks to the lovely people at NoiseTrade! This is my musical version of a Christmas card!
i’ve had the idea for “atlas” for quite a while now and it feels amazing to finally pull the wraps off and be able to actually talk about it!
as the announcement mentioned (read here), atlas is an ongoing series of eps. the keyword there is “ongoing.” unlike yearbook, there is no end-date in mind for this project. atlas will be approached one year at a time for as long as i see fit! i have about 3 years+ already thematically mapped out and i’m so so excited about the concept/direction that will unfold as time moves on.
i wanted to create a project that allowed me endless room for exploration musically and thematically, while still coloring within the lines of an overarching theme. atlas gives me exactly that. the theme of “atlas” is the exploration of the origins, emergence and experiences of life. i like explaining this concept with a visual:
… imagine a camera lens pulled back as far as possible away from the universe. now imagine that lens being pulled closer and closer to us. that is the heart of atlas.
as the lyric in the opening track “overture” points out: “the universe began with our eyes closed.” atlas begins with “darkness.“ next up will be the sibling of darkness, “light.” the rest of the titles will be kept quiet until closer to their respective releases (you might be able to find some clues in the video below…).
the songs for each ep will be inspired by their given theme from many different angles. for instance, the first ep, “darkness,” gives me an opportunity to explore interpretations of what darkness is: it’s the unknown, it’s blindness, it’s sorrow, it’s loss, but it’s also beginnings.
ART (GEOFF BENZING)
when the idea for atlas was coming together, i knew that art should play a very special role in this project. as announced, the long-time sleeping at last collaborator and genius painter, geoff benzing will paint one painting for each of the 28+ songs! i couldn’t be more excited about this! in my songwriting process, there is a very crucial visual element – i see the stories or ideas in each of my songs as collections of pictures. so it’s incredibly exciting for me to have commissioned geoff to paint some of those pictures. i couldn’t be more thrilled with how it’s turning out! (i should mention that 28+ pieces of art are exclusive for atlas ”passport” subscribers only! learn more about that here!)
so privileged to unveil the first of 28+ paintings from geoff benzing below! (this painting was inspired by “overture,” the first song of atlas)
as opposed to the very strict schedule of my yearbook project, the schedule of atlas allows me more time to creatively explore each of the themes within the project, while still releasing lots of of brand-new music throughout the year! this flexible framework will also allow me to pursue other creative outlets as well (touring, film scoring, etc.) throughout the next year.
atlas will feature varied numbers of songs per ep. “darkness” and “light” will have 5 songs each, and the other eps will vary, making a grand total of 28+ new songs in 2013. although this is a series of “eps,” this framework allows for the possibility down the road of variations in the release formats (full-lengths, singles, etc), all under the umbrella of atlas.
anyway… i know there’s a whole lot of information to take in here, but gosh, am i excited about it!! although i get way into these nerdy details of the project, the bottom line is: atlas = 28 brand-new songs coming out in 2013 and i SO hope you enjoy the project!! thank you so much for reading!
much love, ryan
p.s. here’s the universal cover for the “darkness” ep!
p.s.s HUGE thanks to my friends at rule29 for putting together this incredible video announcement!!
hi there! just a quick note to let you you know about paste magazine‘s brand-new 2012 holiday sampler! i have the privilege of my original christmas song “snow” being a part of this lovely collection of holiday songs! such an honor to be in such great company: sufjan stevens, great lake swimmers, correatown, rosie thomas, etc. all have wonderful songs in this 21-song collection too! it’s free, so that’s awesome…
anyway, grab it below! oh and if you don’t already have it, my “christmas collection 2012″ featuring 12 christmas songs is ALSO free and available below!
“wilderness” is the opening track of the “july” EP in the “yearbook” series.
this song is a bit of a time capsule.. while working on writing yearbook, i knew that at some point in the project, i wanted to return to my young roots as a songwriter and write a song that would have fit in stylistically with my older albums, like “ghosts” or “keep no score.” as i was playing around with different ideas in that vein, i remembered a demo i had made sometime around my “ghosts” album in 2003. at the time, i got distracted with the songs that made it onto that record, that i never had time to finish it. when my next record “keep no score” was being put together, it didn’t have a home there either, so it was left unfinished.
so i brushed away the cob webs on this song and i was so excited to have new ears for it because the entire direction and concept suddenly made perfect sense to me, and was exactly what i was hoping to achieve with a song inspired by my musical past.
the music in that old demo, was fairly arranged musically.. but the lyrics and vocal melodies weren’t working.. and though there was a general arrangement in the song, it had some holes there too. so i went to work right away and discovered all sorts of directions and ideas that i would have never thought to try back in 2003 when it was first demoed. it was so fun to hear those old sounds in tandem with my new, current sounds and ideas.
i ended up keeping several of the recorded elements from the original demo in the end – some of the electric guitars remain, a few little keyboard bits, etc. but i knew that a key instrument here would be drums. so i called up my good friend, jacob marshall (mae), and invited him to be a part. he kindly accepted and with engineer help from mark padgett (mae) jacob recorded his drums in NC and it sounded fantastic right out of the gate. was so pleased!
lyrics for this song were tough to write. if i remember correctly, i caught a pretty bad flu virus right around the time of writing these words… so the process was a little slower than other yearbook songs. i wrote this song about my new little niece, who was born shortly after this song’s release.
these words are about the sacredness of new life. about the importance of welcoming it into our world. in spite of how wild and broken life has made us, as adults. this brand-new, fragile, beautiful life rests on the shoulders of that overgrown wilderness in us. in this song i wanted to examine the contrast of new life being entirely helpless and delicate, and some how is entirely dependent on the selfish, rough edged, dangerous world we call home.
when i write “dear wilderness” – i am talking directly to the parent, who represents the most important the role in that little ones’ new life.
all in all, i really enjoyed writing this song (in spite of getting the flu in the middle of it!) – it was incredibly fun to visit the past for a bit! feels good to pick up that electric guitar from time to time.. on my next project, perhaps you’ll hear a little more of that sort of thing. we’ll see.
much love, ryan
dear wilderness, be at your best. her armor is thin as the fabric of her dress. i know the rules: the weaker trees bend. but make her immune when your temper storms in.
when she gains her balance, be as still as you can be. when she’s climbing branches, be the feathers underneath.
when she regains her balance, be as steady as she needs. when she trusts you blindly, be her worthy lock and key.
though it goes against every grain of your sand, like turning wolves into lambs, be your best for her, your best for her.
when she holds her balance, be as gentle as she needs. when she shines her brightest, let no dark cloud intervene.
wow! i can’t believe it’s already december. i think i say this every year, but 2012 has been the fastest year i’ve ever seen. is it possible for years to have variable speeds? if so, i nominate this one as the quickest yet!
though it only seems like a few months ago, exactly 2 years ago today, my “december” ep was released. since it was written, i’ve been working my way through writing blog posts about each of the 36 yearbook songs, and how they were made. to learn how each of the 3 “december” songs came to be, click on the titles:
this particular EP features my first ever original Christmas song, “snow.” when it was released, i asked you fine folks to send in video clips of winter/holidays near you.. and we got videos sent from around the world, which turned into the community-made “snow” music video. i thought today, on the birthday of the “december” ep, it’d post it for those of you that haven’t yet seen it! this fun video project was made possible by wonderful friend of mine named bob davidson, who helped me out in compiling all of these videos together.
(side note: there will be many more projects like this, requesting contributions from you, in the very near future! can’t wait! lots of fun ideas to come!)
i hope your december is absolutely wonderful!! thanks so much for listening and reading!! happy december.