Synth pop duo RYAL release ‘Skyscraper’ – a love letter to NYC written in response to the COVID-19 mass-exodus of young people, in a retro 70s package.
In March 2020, the youth scattered from metropolitan centres to suburban and rural settings, or back in with parents due to the cost of living crisis and economic strain brought on by the pandemic. Some preferred the quiet after busy city life, others were more reluctant to go, and it was this that inspired RYAL to write ’Skyscraper’, a tribute to those that had to leave their cities during the pandemic.
The 70s revival synth-pop duo, comprised of singer/songwriter Jacque Ryan and producer/writer Aaron Nevezie, remark:
“There was a point it felt like we were going to be the only people left here” – Ryal says. “Friends were leaving, heading to new towns or moving back in with parents. Some exited willingly and were glad to escape the insanity of NYC, March 2020. Others left kicking and screaming with a whole lot of tears. The latter felt they were leaving their dreams behind and being forced to throw in the towel. It was a painful thing to watch. Good friends are tough to come by in a city like NYC, so they were doubly hard to lose. One friend in particular really inspired the lyrics of this song – like me, she feels the city raised her and saying goodbye was like ending the longest relationship of her life”.
The group recorded the track entirely in the analogue domain – tracked to 24 track then mixed down on an SSL mixing console to 1/2” stereo. This recording process makes sense, given that the group takes influence from Blondie, Talking Heads and The Clash, and their music also has hints of Fleetwood Mac and Abba.
What is refreshing about this track is the sophisticated use of instrumentation to build an interesting arrangement, rather than relying on computerised production techniques – extra thought has been put into the drum part, bass line, synths and guitars to keep the track interesting and engaging, with a few surprising key changes thrown in for good measure. Essentially there is more of a focus on music and composition, rather than production, the latter often being over relied on my modern artists.
The recording sounds great, and was recorded by Nolan Thies, with Aaron Nevezie on guitar, John Davis on bass and Dan Rieser on drums. It was mixed down by Nevezie and Davis. Aaron says, “I was really excited to record a song that’s not a computer construction project”. Jacque echoes “The constant isolation and creating music digitally and in separate rooms for the last two years has been weighing on us – we are really fortunate that we have this opportunity and option to record this way”.
‘Skyscraper’ is a refreshing listen, and an excellent offering on all fronts: a thoughtful subject matter delivered in a stellar package of analogue production, interesting songwriting, memorable synth hooks and a beguiling vocal with a timeless quality, that is sure to be relevant for years to come.
‘Skyscraper’ is available to stream on all platforms now. You can also keep up-do-date on RYAL’s released via the social links below