A book about music & life.

My name is Ryan Garner. I am a singer / songwriter who also records, mixes and produces his own music. I dabble in a variety of genres and never really stick to one “Thing”. 

This isn’t out of some pretentious principle that I don’t want to be labelled or part of a certain group i.e. “Goth” Musicians or “Synthwave musicians”, “Rappers” or “Chiptune producers” etc. Really it just stems from the fact that I like to do a variety of music. I like to explore and try new things all the time and see what I am capable of and strong at so that I can build on the better parts of myself as time goes on. 

Many would say, and I would be wholeheartedly inclined to agree, that an artist doing multiple genres is troublesome and not necessarily a good thing. Let me explain why; 

When you are trying to market or promote your music or book gigs, what do you say to people? – How do you market something so vast and varying? I can’t just say you are booking a Synthwave act, because then that leaves me little room to play other genres live on the night. The promoter, or whoever booked me, expects at this point a certain type of music and aesthetic that comes with it. It would be remiss of me to blast out a few cheeky 80’s inspired pop tunes and then meander into some Hip Hop or Dubstep music half way through my setlist. This is the route problem with Eqavox. 

Eqavox started out as me dabbling with Chiptune and making some awfully cringey songs about Video Games. I got a bit of a reputation for that, in most cases it wasn’t a good one and the reception to my songs by a lot of people was icy at best and downright hurtful at worst. I have developed a hell of a lot since then. The songs are more intimate and personal, I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and wear my heart on my sleeves lyrically rather than attempting to personify my own feelings through an elaborate set of metaphors relating to some sort of video game character. It’s a lot healthier and freeing being able to just open up more and not hide behind metaphors and use them as armour. I cringe if I listen to my old songs often, because comparing myself to a Pikachu for example is shockingly bad (voltage-based pun completely intended) and did little for me to really express my thoughts and feelings. It didn’t really give people a basis to relate to either, unless of course they were a Pikachu. 

One thing I really struggle with on a personal level is booking gigs. I don’t want to look back later in life and say I wasted the opportunity to perform live because I did, at most, 2 gigs a year in my 20’s. It’s not through lack of trying either, I contact people and reach out to venues but generally seem to get ignored (even before presenting them with my music). 

I feel like the fact that I don’t have a band backing me hold me back, but I am a natural performer. I love performing and I want to do a new gig in 2020 where I can really explore performance and have fun rather than being chained to a million different instruments. Nobody has ever seen my full potential on stage as a performer and its pretty frustrating, I want to get out there, but I just don’t seem to be able to get my foot in the door. 

I have been composing, writing and making music for as long as I can remember now. It really boils down to the fact that it is in my blood and is an absolute lifeline for me and many other people just like me out there. We can’t help ourselves but wildly scrawl lyrics out when we can’t sleep, or we get sneaky little melodies in our heads and record ourselves humming them, so we can capture that moment and make something of it later – stick it on the laterbase. I had no means of doing any music for 2 years of my life and I don’t remember anything of those 2 years much other than the fact I was fucking miserable and seriously depressed. My happiness is directly linked to music and, without it, I crumble. 

Now, I am having a complete inspirational lull and, to prevent my mind from doing a Chernobyl, I fancied writing. Here I am writing right now and, the more I think about my life as a musician, the more I find I have to say about it. Maybe this will be the introduction to a book or something, who knows. All I do know is that I need to bridge this gap in my creativity with something else positive. Maybe writing is the answer.  If this does turn out to be a book, then I hope you enjoy it and get something from it. 

Chapter 1 – Doing Everything. 

As a solo artist, it is important for others to realise just how demanding that is on one person. There are only so many hours in the day to be creative and, in my case, my full-time job tends to intrude on most of it. This leaves me with little time, time that I must share around in the best ways possible. Here is a list of things that I do personally that all relate to my music: 

  • Song writing 
  • Singing 
  • Rapping 
  • Mixing 
  • Mastering 
  • Recording 
  • Video editing 
  • Video filming 
  • Graphic design 
  • Marketing 
  • Promotion 
  • PR 
  • Social Media maintenance 
  • Website maintenance 
  • Merchandise 
  • Composing & arranging 

Some of the above I enjoy more than others and some of them I am better at than others. I would rather spend far more of my time doing the things I love which includes anything related to making music and songs. 

Therefore, things like Promotion, PR, Marketing, Video Editing and Graphic Design suffer. These suffer because I am not good at them, I can get by when I need to with the help of some online tools, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t enjoy any of this, I enjoy the result. 

When I release a new single, after spending hours and hours and tireless days of recording, arranging, rearranging, mixing and mastering, I then must assemble up the energy to do the stuff I hate before I get to release that. When I release a song, the rule of thumb is that Artwork must accompany it as a bare minimum, whether I want to spend time doing that or not. I can’t just have any old artwork either – it must look good, as good as somebody who is bad at this stuff can get it. I am proud of the song after all, I want the artwork to reflect that. I want everything associated with the release to reflect and represent that. 

I remember saying to a friend a few years back how frustrating it is that I can’t just do the bits and that I am expected to be amazing at everything. To be successful, I absolutely must have the ability to do all the above to a high standard. I don’t though, and this is one of many problems I face as a muso. 

I am exactly that, a musician first, songwriter second and producer third. Anything else that is necessary and expected as part of the package of releasing and promoting music, I awkwardly meander and fumble through because it’s essential.

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