Inspired by the vintage electronic textures of pulsing modular synth bass lines locked to analogue drum machines and keyboards, synth-dream-pop, RYAL (Jacque Ryal and Aaron Nevezie) is an artistic vision with a unique style, emotional vision and a glittering inclusive worldview.
Through their myriad blips and tones, RYAL likes to embody everything that synthesizer music can be. Stylistically they stand at an interstice fueled by very deliberate pop sensibilities, not just for the broader appeal, but for the fresh and unconstrained plasticity that the free-flowing and extremely ample genre has to offer to their modulated, oscillating, harmonizing dreams.
RYAL’s latest musical proposal is called “The End is Near Here” and they fearlessly dive into uncharted waters even for them, incorporating hip-hop elements into their familiar-yet-innovative sound. The 3-song-EP is a delightful little tour across apocalyptic sentiments amongst gritty neon-lit urban soundscapes. The first song “The End” is a tad futuristic with an overdose of dark chic, meanwhile “It’s a New Thing” is paradoxically nostalgic with an almost upbeat naivete. Finally, “Decent People” is a full-on 80’s throwback track that is as unapologetic as it is genuinely out of that decade.
We had the opportunity to chat a bit with RYAL and get their read on these end-times we’re living in. Check it out:
Where others seek to forget, RYAL is keen on exploring the apocalyptic signs of our age. Is it anxiety? Idealism? aesthetic drive?
(Jacque) Great question and one with multi-layered answers.
With all that has happened since really 2017, it is hard not to hear at a dinner party “ is this the end of times?” or “this is the end of the world”. How can one look at this world and not question its mortality?
We can’t be afraid to look at things and see them for what it is, with the topic of climate change for instance, things are not looking great for this planet. Our hope, like with all art, bring the topics to the forefront to enact change.
What do you feel seems the most urgent matter?
(Jacque) The list goes on, but one we are both passionate about is climate. We all know this, but big changes need to go into effect now, but also what can we do in our personal lives to help impact? I’m always super inspired by Aaron in all the ways he is making an impact in his life (i.e. made is home completely solar, and went vegan). Gives me hope and inspires me. Like, what can I do to make a difference?
How can music help us deal with our own mortality or the frailty of our societies?
(Jacque) Music has so much power – it can shift your conscious state, calm your nervous system, can rile you up (pun intended). Put on a record and sit with yourself. Face what you’re scared of and see yourself through the other side, let it change you.
Is there good news out there about the state of the world that bring you hope?
(Jacque) I feel a bit hypocritical saying this considering our song “Decent People” and the massive influx of asshole-ish people, but I do have hope in humanity. I hope we can put differences aside and come together. There are a lot of decent people in this world and we have to keep finding each other.
I read that you were anxious about releasing “The End is Near Here”, which I guess is rather common, however, it feels as though there was a bigger temptation to rush it out (which ultimately wasn’t the case), why was that?
(Jacque) We have spent the last 2-3 years focused on constantly releasing singles and playing that Spotify algorithm game (which is questionable if that actually works btw). When the “end of times” concept came to light we decided to take a beat and develop the body of work, but when we needed to work through songs lyrically or on production, we grew anxious and felt like we needed to feed the “algorithm” beast / became nervous at times that songs were becoming stale. “Decent People” as an example was written in July of 2022 and we wrapped production in September of 2022. Normally we would have released like a month or two after. I’m very glad we powered through though. These songs all belong together.
Outside of the obvious ‘end-times’ buzz around the EP’s concept, is there anything else informing or influencing the creative direction of this project?
(Jacque) Noga Erez’s record Kids was everything I needed to help me get through 2020. I’m so inspired by her and Ori Rousso’s work. Additionally, Aaron and I both love Beyonce’s Renaissance a ton. We took this record to explore this hip-hop angle a bit more and I dipped my toes in spoken word. Working lyrically on “The End” was one of the most cathartic songs I have ever written. I’m super proud of the work on that song. Doing shit I’m scared of! Let’s go!
Do you think we tend to be overly pessimistic about everything?
(Jacque) I think it depends on if we are watching CNN or the Today Show. Just kidding. I love the phrase “ be cautiously optimistic”. We can’t let our pessimism overrule us, nor can we lie to ourselves with only optimism. Like all things, let’s strive for balance.
What do you envision RYAL’s future to be like?
(Jacque) As long as we can keep writing, recording and releasing music. This is our means to emotional survival during these end of times.
Photos by @brooklynelitist