Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan Communicates & Connects with Emotional Distance

Lauren Krieger

With decades of experience as a DJ & producer, professional audio engineer, and owner of the label Triplefire Music, Ryan Sullivan has been witness to the evolution of the industry and has a unique awareness of its present-day shortcomings. That is why when it came to releasing his new album Emotional Distance, he decided to explore a new pathway to getting the music directly into the hands of the listener, sharing it with a personal touch that inspires a deeper connection between artist and fan.

From the beginning, the album was created with the electronic music listener in mind; not directed just towards the DJ or with the intention of creating the “next hot track”, but designed to reach out to those who enjoy the experience of listening for its own sake. When it came to releasing the album, carrying forward with this idea was important to Ryan, and Emotional Distance has become about more than another release. In juxtaposition to its name, it is about getting closer, finding new ways to connect in an industry where the quick turnover of tracks and chart-topping games can cause a disconnect between creators and fans.

For a limited time, you can go behind the scenes of the creation of the album and get exclusive content & bonus material at http://www.ryansullivan.co.za/emotionaldistance

Check out a sneak peek of one of the tracks from the album on his July episode of Triplefire, and read on to learn more about Emotional Distance:

When did the idea behind the Emotional Distance album first begin?

In September of 2018 the project officially began, however the desire to create a full album was there for a long, long time. I decided to make a listening album for electronic music enthusiasts that also doesn’t ignore the DJs and dance floors but they are not the priority here.

The way the electronic music world is largely based on singles for DJs and trying to get big names to play your track in the hopes that people will come hunting for your song just doesn’t sit well with me and so I set out to do something different.

Did you know that you wanted to present and distribute it in this way from the beginning?

Originally, there was no particular plan but I wanted to do something different to the norm.

As I was creating the album the plans slowly came together and truth be told, the music has been finished for months, I’ve spent three times more time on the release plan.

What are the main factors behind your decision to do an independent and special release?

Generally speaking, musicians only speak to fans when asking them to do something like buy a new song, come to the next show or to show people look how cool the show they missed was. That communication sucks and I wanted to open up a real conversation with fans of my music.

To do so meant bypassing all distributors, stores and marketers and delivering the music directly to people who want to be a part of it, through a self-built system that allows us to be in touch with one another directly, away from public platforms.

It’s by no means a boycott, it’s just a better way for me to be closer to the people who care about my music.

What are some of the challenges you have come across so far?

Loads of tech learnings and strategies came into play while building the system, so I’ve definitely developed some useful new skills along the way and they’ve been exciting to learn and overcome.

Of course the hurdle of creating an album of music that’s cohesive and the cover art was also a challenge as I’ve always wanted to paint in a particular technique and had the idea to finally learn it to hand paint the album cover, so that was also a great learning.

What has made you feel the most successful?

Every song or project I complete gives me a feeling of success and then of course there’s peer recognition. Receiving love and support from people who appreciate the music all around the world gives me a great sense of accomplishment and reassures me after all the second guessing.

I’m grateful for the people that show appreciation as it gives the music meaning and purpose.

I’d love to get some insight into what the album production process was like – is there anything new or different you tried out for this release? Any parts or sounds that you are particularly fond of, or special moments you will remember?

There’s definitely a change in my sound here as I wanted to create songs with a deeper meaning and with a listener in mind rather than aiming for the dancefloor. They’re still house based songs that work on the dancefloor but that was secondary in the process. To do so I tried to remove my conscious thoughts from the process, attempting to eliminate my emotional attachment which is definitely something I’ll carry forward into my future work too.

Also, a new method I tried was to create musical ideas on my phone while on the run and then bring them into studio to be built upon at a later stage. The process began with 160 song ideas before cutting it all down to the final selection.

What is an important part of your studio process that you think is often underrated?

Focus, efficiency and having a system in place with rules and limitations.

What are the biggest differences in your work today from when you first began producing music?

It’s a funny one as when I was young I had all the ideas and none of the know-how and for many years I had the know-how and none of the ideas. I feel like I’ve reached a balance now.

The title would suggest a theme that runs through the album, was that in mind as you were working on it? What does it mean to you?

It definitely was in my mind the whole way through as it was an important part of achieving what I wanted but it didn’t have a name until the music was complete. The project was named after the mental challenge the album placed on me but it only came after the music and painting were completed.

Is there anything else that you’d like your listeners and fans to know?

Yes, I made this album and the experience around it specifically for you and I hope that you enjoy it.

The experience is available for a limited time here: http://www.ryansullivan.co.za