Roar writer Laura Saracino interviews Ryan McMey and discusses his new single, “2am texts”.

What happens when you mix together Duke Ellington and the Beatles, with Harry Styles as the cherry on top? Well, I would hardly give an answer if you asked me. But for Ryan McMey, singer, songwriter and musician, magic happens.

He grew up with the Beatles and the Stones, and the moment they stopped being only the music his parents listened to, he realized what he was going to be. In different ways, music has always been with him. Some days, daydreaming about 1920s jazz singers, longing to play in smokey nightclubs where the excitement of the forbidden makes butterflies fly in the stomach; other days, being in awe of the straightforwardness and surgical precision of contemporary pop songs’ wonderful and unifying lyrics: “I have been in bands where we played both covers and new songs before starting this solo journey which, ironically enough, began quite at the same time with the pandemic craziness.”

2020 was a year full of writing and publishing music in an attempt to make sense of the feelings and thoughts unleashed by this extremely odd period all humanity is going through. “I had plans for 2020, as almost everyone,” he told me. “I wanted to perform around Europe, I wanted to go to France and busk my way down to the South Coast. Well, things turned out to be quite different.”

Ryan is sunny and talkative, and words come easily to him, which gave me plenty of insight into his life. Hundreds of songs crowd his mind, the foundations on which he builds his own. “Help!” by the Beatles or “Hey ya!” by OutKast are only two inspirational examples that have had a massive influence in developing his own style and genre, referred to by some as “bedroom pop.” Danceable rhythms and cheerful sounds accompany words, leaving messages so heavy as stones. Songs conceived, produced, recorded and released all in the same place: his own bedroom.

Ryan told me about the moment that made him and his band part ways, as they were heading in different directions. He also talked about the need he felt to write songs about reality, especially in this particular time when controversial politics and unimagined situations are ruling the world: “It all started a few years ago: Brexit, then Trump’s election, all the way through Covid-19. I have never perceived more clearly the feeling of living in history, experiencing something that was monumental as much as universal,” he said.

He put all the restlessness caused by such happenings in his songs. His lyrics can be relatable for many of those who have been cut off in the middle of their lives: “We are allowed to complain, and what we say is that this is not ok, we are not okay,” he said. “We are going through a lot at the moment, and we should not be afraid of saying there is something wrong. We need to say that for our mental health. And if back in February we were unconsciously relieved to push the pause button for a while, now we are fed up, we no longer want to read or bake or garden or knit anymore. We want our lives back.”

In his new single “2am texts,” released this February, he sings:

[..] I miss the stupid —-
wanna stand eye to eye
with a stranger
and not even think of it
wanna dance with no room
left for Jesus
with people I’ve never met [..]

I miss all that, too. We all do. But scratching the surface for the tiny bit of optimism left is what we all need to do. As I await the opportunity to buy the ticket for Ryan’s first live concert, there is nothing better than listening to his new song to nurture that feeling while seeking the horizon line, to feel one and united, as we are all in this together, longing for that 2 a.m. text that screams ordinariness.

Listen to Ryan McMey’s latest single “2am texts” here.

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