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Scott von Ryper – Photo Credit: Yana Yatsuk
Scott von Ryper is an Australian singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He is best known for being a founding member of the Australian duo The Black Ryder, and is currently a guitarist for the iconic Scottish group The Jesus and Mary Chain.
This Friday, von Ryper makes his solo debut with an album entitled Dream State Treasure, via Tran-si-ent Records and in conjunction with SilverDoor Music.
Primarily recorded and mixed in his home studio between 2018 – 2020, von Ryper utilized the break from touring as part of JAMC and pandemic-driven isolation in 2020 to explore sonic themes that he had experimented with early in his career when still recording on a 4-track.
The songs have now been produced on a much grander scale, with von Ryper playing most of the instruments, and recording, producing, and mixing the majority of the record himself. Additional recording occurred with Los Angeles engineer Norm Block, who also played drums on the LP.
The title, Dream State Treasure, is partly an acknowledgment of that fact that elements of the album came to von Ryper while dreaming. “I recall at least two occasions where I awoke out of a dream and went directly to the studio to record or completely change songs.”
Big Takeover is pleased to host the premiere of the driving and atmospheric track “Pulse” before the album is officially released.
“Pulse” starts out with a regular, but urgently smacked drum beat and acoustic guitar motif, before quickly kicking in with gritty electric guitar burn and an expressive von Ryper passionately exclaiming his lyrics.
The intensity only increases from there, with vibrantly reverberating guitar riffs, noir, layered vocals, and fleeting phased synths that whip up a dramatic storm.
Von Ryper gives some insight about the creation of the song, revealing, “I’ve always loved the combination of acoustic guitar layered with really distorted guitars, especially with open tunings. “Pulse” is in many ways a sonic outlier on the album, given its use of more modern sounds, like the drum machine and synth and the pace of it, but lyrically I felt like it fit the record, and I’ve always loved the idea of having a few surprises on an album.”
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Von Ryper generously took some time to reply to a few of our burning questions about his music and recording process for his new album:
What was it like to create your album mostly on your own versus collaborating with other people in the bands you’re associated with?
“The most obvious difference is that you’re not creating based on a collaborative taste or pursuit. You can go as wide and far as you alone feel comfortable with.”
“The process of making this record has very rewarding, although it forces you to make decisions because there is only one opinion on anything. If you’re unsure about something you’re doing, you alone have to work through that uncertainty and establish trust in your ability to make the right choices.”
“99.99% of the time it was just me in a room writing, playing, recording, mixing. Adding the pandemic and lock down situation to that in 2020, I was in almost complete isolation for a long time. I was always quite obsessive when it came to the music production, but I’m sure this experience kicked it up another notch.”
“Once thing I did learn is that when you’re working alone, it can be very tempting to want to share your unfinished work with others from time to time, because deep down we all want validation even if we don’t want to admit it, and there’s no one else in the room to give that to you. But… it’s a very vulnerable time, and if someone doesn’t react the way you expect or hope, it can mess with your head temporarily if you’re not yet 100% solid in the work. I made a decision at some point in the process to stop sharing what I was working on for this reason. All I wanted to care about was how I felt about it, and that’s hard enough without involving others.”
“I think if you feel like you’ve lost perspective (which I did hundreds of times), it’s best to put it away for a while and came back to it; and never underestimate how your current mood can impact how you feel about whatever it is you’re doing.”
You said a lot of the ideas on this album came to you in dreams – that said, did you keep a dream journal during your writing process? Was there anything you dreamed about that made a significant impact on the album?
“I’ve never been a big dream or ‘dream meaning’ person, quite possibly because I’m usually never able to remember dreams for more than a minute or so after waking. It’s usually lost immediately which is frustrating. As a result, I’ve never kept a dream journal. I only started keeping a general daily journal for the first time in my life last year, which is a habit I hope I’ll keep for the rest of my life.”
“Creative music dreams are very, very rare. I can recall maybe only a few times in my life where I’ve dreamt songs. One of those songs is “Goodnight, Goodbye” on this record. I woke up right out of the dream and walked straight into my studio and starting working it out on the piano, and then started recording it within a few minutes. It’s hard to overstate what a gift that is to be given from your subconscious.”
“The second dream that I had that influenced this album was a little different. I dreamt about a song that I already had written and started recording, but that wasn’t really working. The closest analogy I could use is this: Imagine someone played you a cover version of a song you had written, but their interpretation of it was incredibly different and more beautiful to you. You were left with the feeling that “this is how is was always meant to be.”
“That’s what happened to me in the dream. I had this slightly uptempo guitar track that I didn’t know what do to with vocally or production wise. It didn’t make me feel anything. Then I dreamt about a completely different version of the song, and it was just so perfect to me. It was slow and soulful, played on piano, and it also fit with what I was doing with some other songs. The dream was so unbelievably clear.”
“I again, got straight up and walked to the studio and worked out how to play it on the piano like in the dream. I had already dreamt how it should sound and how to do the production so it was simply a matter then of re-recording it as the ‘dream’ version. I have never had an experience like that previously that I recall. That song was “The Devil’s Son.”
“I have since read a lot about the dream process and lucid dreaming. Some say that if you go to bed with the thought of what you want to dream about or questions you would like answered, that you can make that happen. You have the answers locked inside there somewhere. There was a short time I tried this practice but i didn’t stick with it at the time. I suspect its something that I will return to and explore at some point.”
Is there a song on this album that is most meaningful or memorable to you, whether due to the process behind it, or the ideas/stories that inspired it lyrically?
“That’s not an easy choice as there’s a few songs on the album that are very meaningful to me, but there’s something extra special about “Lucifer” to me for many reasons.”
“The idea of that song has been around a long time. It existed even before the first Black Ryder record was made. It’s traveled many years and life changes with me but it just never found a home. In some ways, it was a song waiting for it’s moment. I never lost faith in how special I knew it was though. I think I just didn’t know how to progress or develop it for a long time.”
“When I first recorded the idea, it was just an organ and a vocal only. That’s how it stayed for over a decade. Lyrically, it has a lot of meaning to me for two reasons.”
“Firstly, it was inspired by a book that I had read when I was in hospital, recovering from an illness. The book had a massive impact on me, and to this day still does. It was the first that I’d read in a series of connected books called ‘Seth Speaks’. It’s a bit complex to explain here but it’s metaphysical in nature. The lyrics “No God, no Devil, and no shining light, but someone plays the part to please me” come from a thought proposed in the book, that you will be meet with your specific beliefs in the afterlife when you die, to make the transition easier.”
“Secondly, the overall theme is written from a perspective of me reviewing my life at the end. For some unknown reason, I feel like this is a common theme for me. I always visualized my own funeral when hearing it, which is a strange thing to do. It’s probably a blessing that I didn’t have a video budget.”
“It’s a very emotive lyric theme for me and i did my best to match it musically. I feel that I did something very special in it’s production; maybe more than I’d ever done before, which is another reason that it’s so special to me. It feels like a magic moment, like a rare lightning strike.”
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