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That One Time When A Trip to the Music Shop Became an Event: The Black Ryder

It’s not often that we’ll post an album launch in our scene section, but this one is so good that a trip to purchase it should be penned in your diary alongside dinner and buying toilet paper. Hauntingly melodic, The Black Ryder have achieved the kind of sound that takes artists years to perfect. Sydney can be proud to lay claim to the Surry Hills locals Aimée Nash and Scott Von Ryper, who started their journey together with a school crush gone bad…

What were your musical beginnings?

Aimée: My mother bought me a violin which I started playing when I was 4-years-old. I then had piano lessons at age 7, guitar lessons at age 8… and I grew up listening to The Beatles, The Mamas & the Papas, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Simon & Garfunkel, as well as a nice mix of classical music, so I guess it’s fair to say that I had a healthy interest in music from a young age.

Scott: My parents bought a Hammond B3 Organ with a full size Lesley cabinet when I was very young, so my parents and my brother and I all started learning. I was the only one that kept it going for a few years. It was a great instrument to learn first as it taught me about melody, chords, and bass. When you’re playing the organ, you have to do all three at once. It also taught me about tone as those organs have beautiful tone bars. I wish we had that organ in our studio.

photo by Stefan Duscio

How did you meet and when did the process of starting The Black Ryder begin?

Aimée: We met at an underground music club when I was 14 years old. I was (obviously) underage and Scott was a little older than me… I had a crush on him, he thought I was cute but too young for him so he broke my heart. I didn’t talk to him for years and then we somehow reconnected a few years later.
We started working together on a few musical projects around 8 years ago. We spent a number of those years in The Morning After Girls, and the last 2 years writing and recording as The Black Ryder. And here we are today.

Scott: That sounds right. I’m sorry for breaking your heart Aimee...

How long were you recording the album for?

Aimée: It feels like it’s taken a really long time for us, but we only started getting some songs together in early 2007. We basically wrote and recorded the songs for the album, got a band together, performed as a band, and released an album in 2 years, which I think is pretty good in the grand scheme of things, especially when you consider that Scott engineered the album and we produced it ourselves.
It took us the first year to explore different sounds and effects, which was been fun. We’re still exploring and learning so I’ll be interested to hear what the next album sounds like.

Scott: Now that it’s actually finished it doesn’t seem that long really. It certainly did feel like a while at certain points before.

What was the process like?

Aimée: At times it was a very fulfilling process creatively. It was wonderful to have everything at our disposal to record whatever and whenever we wanted, but at other times that would be a hindrance because we could never really relax.

We always knew the studio was there and if we left things unfinished we'd always feel an immense sense of guilt.

We just kept chipping away at it whenever we could. It was refreshing when people would add to what we were doing because they’d inject some new life and put a different spin on things.

Scott: Aimee is absolutely right about the up and down sides of having our studio so close. There were many long periods spent at that studio desk trying to make it sound exactly how it sounded in our heads, without any benefit of real experience in knowing how to do that. This album represents a massive period of personal growth for us in all of our abilities. You know that expression, “bite off more than you can chew, and then chew like crazy”? Our experience was more like, “bite off more than you can chew and try to avoid insanity.”

Congratulations on your debut album – how are you feeling?

Aimée: Thanks very much for the congratulations! It’s been a bit of a mix of emotions.
We are definitely feeling relieved that it’s finished. Recently there was a bit of apprehension.

The music had been ours and ours only for so long, and then when it was time to let go of it there was that worry… did we get it right, was it time, could we have done things differently.. And the answer is yes, we could have done things differently, but you can spend years on an album and we felt like it was time to finish it and get it out.

But certainly now there is a growing sense of accomplishment in that it’s finished and we did it ourselves.

Scott: I agree. I felt a massive sense of relief at the end. The further we move away from the process and closer to the release, I’m definitely feeling very proud of what we have achieved.

photo by Stefan Duscio

What have been some of the largest hurdles?

Aimée: Recording it ourselves and getting the right record deal/label to put our album out. There were a lot of false starts with several labels which became really discouraging and quite exhausting. Another challenge was worrying that we were losing perspective because we’d been listening to the same thing hundreds of times. At that point we weren’t even sure whether something was awesome or crap… I think that’s one of the benefits of recording in a studio with an outside engineer.

Scott: I don’t discount any of those challenges, but I have also realised that those challenges have made it so rewarding. We did do it ourselves, and we did it our way, all the way. I’m very proud of that.

I love your sound – strong vocals, strong music… it’s been called psychedelic, but how would YOU describe it? Is that the genre you set out to achieve?

Aimée: Thanks again. This is the question that I’m the worst at answering. I actually can’t describe our music – I don’t know how to. I’m not a huge fan of labels… I’ve heard the term psychedelic being used to describe our music as well as comparisons to other bands, but I think that can be dangerous because it gives people a pre-conceived idea of what our sound is going to be like. I’d prefer to let people make up their minds for themselves.

Scott: I can see that maybe some of our songs actually might sound a little psychedelic, but there’s a lot that I really wouldn’t agree with that on. I think these labels just help people find new music they might like amongst all the music out there, and they are not necessarily a true indication of the actual sound or pedigree anymore. In our case, maybe it’s also trying to describe a higher feeling about the album, and how it may make you feel or what you may feel like doing when you’re listening to it. We’ve been told by others that they do like to listen to our music when they’re getting toasted.

You have had your fair share of awesome reviews – how does it feel to hear such great things before even your debut album has been released?

Aimée: That’s very nice of you to say so. It’s encouraging to hear someone say something nice about your music, but at the same time I don’t go searching for it (because there will always be other people who don’t really like what we do) – so I don’t think it’s too healthy getting caught up in that stuff too much. At the end of the day, I’d be happy if what we were doing was honest, we felt good about it and people who come to see us dug it.

Scott: I feel blessed. Respect from peers and friends is very rewarding.

The Black Ryder’s debut album Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride will be released this Friday. Go buy it.

words: Seema Duggal


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