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“They Sell Doomsday” a Year Later: Interview with Ryan Power


I first heard Ryan Power’s music around November of last year. His “They Sell Doomsday” record had just come out and I saw an advertisement flaunting the cover art. I was strangely drawn to the pastel-colored cover above and the perplexing goofy title. I was even drawn to the name “Ryan Power”. Powerful. Electric. Energy.

When I opened the thing up, it revealed itself to be a very clean sounding, almost antiseptically produced record. There was little noticeable reverb, distortion or noise at all. Power’s voice fosters no vibrato, crackling or screaming, instead his croon is rich with purity of tone, stacked harmonies and perfect rhythm. Underlying this polished surface are songs twisted, complicated and beautiful in composition. The record manages to express an anxious and fidgety spirit while circumventing the usual avenues of noise or extreme arrangements. “They Sell Doomsday” is an achievement in pop music, for its attention to harmonic details and immaculate production.

I had the privelage of asking Power a few questions ahead of his performance this Friday at First Church of Someville along with Ruth Garbus and Kevin Wynd.


BH: On the surface, “They Sell Doomsday” seems clean and tidy but the arrangements and structures are very wild and chaotic. What are your feelings, now that you’ve had some distance from the record, on this conflict?

RP: I don’t really see it as a conflict.  I don’t like harsh frequencies, they hurt my ears.  I do like long forms, melodies and modulations, they help me out.  They open up new pathways and stave off dementia

BH: Were there any specific people, works of art, events or writings that influenced you during the making of Doomsday?

RP: I draw inspiration from movies.  Through A Glass Darkly and Wings of Desire are two I really like.  Writings, relationships and conversations also influence me.  Nature too.

BH: What were your favorite or most essential tools used on this album?

RP: My old Yamaha classical guitar, Omnisphere and Roland Juno 106.

BH: What was the role of the studio on this recording?

RP: The studio was my home.  Literally… I lived there.  It was the old carpentry building that is part of Fort Ethan Allen in Essex, VT.  Now I live in Bushwick and work out of a little studio my friend and I built in the basement of my “living situation”.

BH: What is your greatest fear?

RP: Letting anxiety and self doubt limit opportunities for connection and growth.

BH: Any music you’re really excited about lately?

RP: I love going out to hear jazz.  Some of the musicians I like include: Matt Mitchell, Kate Gentile, Kim Cass and Dan Weiss.  They are all amazing players and composers.  It’s truly inspiring to take those shows in and listen to their recordings.  Very complex and abstract music that opens me up.  So many gosh dang polyrhythms.

BH: Any exciting things coming up for you that you’d like to share here?

RP: I’m doing a solo tour in Japan this October.  It should be quite the experience.  A Japanese label is releasing a greatest hits compilation.  I’ll be touring for 8 days to support that and then sight-seeing for another week.  I’ve always wanted to visit Japan.

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