Ryland James’ Music Will Always be “In Your Head”

Hosted by Sarah Evangelista

Graphic by Emily Lantzy

Upcoming artist Ryland James has quickly grown his follower count ever since he opened for Alessia Cara on her cross-Canada tour last spring. He caught the attention of many new listeners by his powerful voice featured in all his songs. I got the opportunity to speak with Ryland on the phone about music, his new video, and tour.

Let’s start off with a basic question: what inspired you to pursue music?

Okay, so I’ve been told from when I was young, like 2 years old, my mom said I was always singing around the house and in my car seat and stuff. I think what inspired me to really start music was that I grew up with gospel and soul music in the house, and my grandma was a gospel piano player. I’d always experiment with playing with the keys on the piano sometimes, but I think what really got me into music was there was this kid that sang “Who’s Loving You” on Britain’s Got Talent when I was about 10 years old. I remember my mom and grandma saying to me, “I think you could do that,” and I was 10 so I wasn't really self-aware of how great I was at the time. So I kind of one day just belted it out and they said, “Wow this is amazing; you need to keep going with this.” From that day on, I was obsessed with music, and I started posting covers and making music all the time. That’s how I got started with it!

Awesome! So you’re from Ontario, who are your favourite Canadian bands or artists at the moment?

I love, love, love Alessia Cara. I went on tour with her in May and I’m going on tour with her again in October. She’s always been one of my biggest inspirations in the past years because of her lyricism and her writing skills and just what she stands for, so I love her. Shawn Mendes has been a huge inspiration to me, and Justin Bieber, but right now, probably my favourite is Alessia Cara. 

Speaking of her, how much fun was the tour?

It was amazing; the best experience I’ve ever had. That was the first time I did a cross-Canada tour. I got to see a lot of Canada for the first time, which was cool because I love traveling, and just getting to share the stage with somebody who inspired me so much and who you know I look up to. Even now, I still love her writing and creativity. To share the stage with her and become friends behind the scenes, being able to talk to her, having her mentor in a kind of way, it’s a really cool experience to do that. 

Alessia’s so amazing! As you mentioned before, you’re going back on tour in the fall, so what are you looking forward to the most?

Honestly, it’s seeing the stages. I haven’t been to many places — well, I’ve been to a few places recently but I haven’t gotten to see the entire country; I’m interested to see the people, the fans across the stages there. Yeah, I’m pumped for that!

So you’ve opened for Canadian artists such as Scott Helman and now Alessia Cara, but do you plan on going on your own headlining tour one day as well?

For sure, totally! I’d love to tour on my own at some point. I have a bunch of music that I have written and have release plans for, so I’m sure it’ll be sometime in the future.

So what would your setlists for tour look like this time around?

It’ll mostly be originals, but I’ll probably throw in a cover or two in there. Well, watch out for that!

Sounds great! Now let’s talk music; your first release was “Good To You,” your sophomore single was “Say Goodbye,” and your newest song is “In My Head.” Do you feel as if your music is evolving already?

Oh definitely yeah! “Good To You” came out a few years ago now, and then “Say Goodbye” not long ago, and then “In My Head” is now, so it’s been a couple years process of just learning who I am and developing my writing style, developing my sound. It has definitely evolved. Of course, my voice changes too, as I’m getting older, so it’s always evolving, but I love “In My Head” and it’s one of my favorite songs that I've written so far. 

They’re all so amazing. What inspired “In My Head?”

I was over in Stockholm early last year with this group of writers, and I remember it was towards the end of a writing trip. I was getting exhausted at that point, just from writing every single day for like a month. Ideas were kind of running flat, and I wasn’t fully sure about what I wanted to write about that day. I remember we went in and started on one idea, and we were kind of writing the chorus, but it wasn’t really going where I wanted it to so we tried something different. One guy who I was writing with sat at the piano and played some chords, and I said “Oh that’s interesting,” and we just started naturally developing over it. I remember seeing the first line of the chorus, just the melody, and then the words just came out, “If we fall apart.” For some reason, that just stuck with me. I said, “Where could we go with that?” The idea for the chorus fell from that first line: “If we fall apart, I still got you in my head.” The whole concept developed from there; it was such a cool concept that we’ve never really heard before. The whole song is made from that point on.

What are three words to describe the music video?

That’s tough. Three words to describe the music video… Oh no! That’s really difficult. Okay, how about: young love, Toronto. 

What can we expect next from you musically?

The song just came out, I have the video coming out, and a few more things coming out within the next little bit. I have the bulk of an album finished right now, so it’s just releasing a few songs from that in the future, and then we’ll have a full album at some point! 

If you live in the USA and would like to see Ryland James open for Alessia Cara in the fall, don’t think twice — this lineup is nothing to miss.