INTERVIEW: RYAN CABRERA
Ryan Cabrera first picked up the guitar at the age of 16 when he was drawn to a beat-up guitar he found at a friend's house. Out of sheer boredom he started to experiment, soon he was picking out chords to tunes by the Beatles.
He eventually began playing with friends and after a while formed his first band, a high-school punk group called Caine. Cabrera fronted the band which since he was not a trained singer it probably wasn’t the best idea.
When he heard the Dave Matthews Band Cabrera instantly knew that music was not just a hobby, it was something he wanted to completely devote himself to. Cabrera then put down his electric guitar and abandoned the punk rock of Caine, and formed a new acoustic-based band called Rubix Groove. With the help of his older brother, the band began playing gigs everywhere in and around Dallas, quickly becoming a local favorite. While still in high school they also opened for such big name groups as Cheap Trick and Third Eye Blind.
Cabrera went solo as a result of chance, when his brother bought a block of studio time for him for a birthday gift. The only set back was that only one person could record, due to lack of money. While Cabrera was hesitant to record without his band, the opportunity was too tempting. He went into the studio with three songs he had written, and the studio engineer was so impressed he offered to produce an entire album for Cabrera for free. The nineteen-year-old musician jumped at the chance, gathered up two years' worth of songs, and holed up at Deep Ellum Studios to create his first album, the independently produced Elm Street (2001). Cabrera played all the guitars on the CD, as well as keyboards, drum beats, and beatbox.
Ryan Cabrera was signed to Atlantic Records in 2001. His major debut single "On the Way Down" debuted on American radio in May 2004.
His next album Take It All Away was released on August 17, 2004. John Rzeznik, lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, produced Take It All Away. Cabrera appeared on the Son of the Mask soundtrack with the song "Inside Your Mind" and the Fantastic Four soundtrack with the song "Always Come Back To You".
Cabrera's second album, You Stand Watching, was released on September 20, 2005, and it included his singles "Shine On" and "Photo".
Besides music, Ryan has also appeared on several reality television shows including; MTV’s show Score (in which he hosted), several episodes of The Hills during its sixth and final season, and the E!’s television show Pretty Wild.
In 2006, Cabrera released a single called I Will Remember You. The song quickly got heard by television executives, and a couple shows requested to use the song as their good-bye anthem.
The Moon Under Water was released on May 13, 2008, under Frolic Room Records/ Papa Joe Records.
Cabrera has recently released two new singles off of his upcoming album, release date not set in stone, titled “Home” (July 3) and “I See Love” (Aug. 2).
You didn’t pick up the guitar until you were 16 because you were bored at a friend’s house. How did just a hobby of playing music, turn into something you wanted to completely devote yourself to?
I played for fun originally. When I heard the Dave Matthew’s Band that was the original “ok that’s awesome, I want to do that”. I started writing songs, they weren’t very good and I wasn’t very good either but I did it just because it was fun and it was just something to do. All of a sudden I fell in love with writing and creating something. I’ve always been into writing or poetry and art and stuff so it just kind of turned into a hobby that turned into a job somehow.
Do you like writing or playing live better?
I think I like playing live the most out of anything, but when you’re done writing and recording I think that’s probably the biggest reward for me. Finishing a song and hearing it back and being proud of whatever you just created I think is pretty fun. But playing live is my favorite thing in the world.
So you just had your third annual birthday bash performance. Are you planning any more shows or tours in the near future?
I’m trying not to as many shows right now just because I want to finish the album and it’s hard scheduling live, but I’m doing Fresno next month and then a college show but just a couple until I finish the record. I think the plan is to get on tour with another band and just open up and get in front of people that have never heard my music, that’s the goal.
So this new album that you’ve been working on for a couple years now… tell us about it, what can we expect? What have your influences been? Release date?
Yeah it’s gone through a lot of different stages that’s why it’s kind of taken so long. Originally, I was just trying to write to be current and stuff and then after a year or two I wrote a song called “Forgot How To Fly” which kind of shifted gears and I realized that I didn’t want to do that and I wasn’t going to try hard to fit in. All of a sudden the record became. It got back to the acoustic singer songwriter roots and the album is a pretty happy record, it’s organic and it’s a lot about just enjoying life and that’s where I’m at and the record reflects that. I want everything to sound real and nature and not like its trying and not overly produced and crazy. I want people to believe it because it is coming from a real place and that’s what this record is all about.
Yeah going back to the basics and being authentic.
Pretty Much. Yeah, exactly. Not trying just writing songs and hoping people appreciate it. So far the reaction to them have been really good.
I see a lot of musicians losing sight of what music really means to them because of the rapidly changing music industry. Now that you have been in this industry for a decade how do you think you have evolved as a musician?
For me personally I think that I just try to learn as much as I can and I’m not the greatest songwriter in the world and I’m not the greatest singer in the world but I want to just keep trying to get better. Having fun at the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying it. I want my music to represent me as a person and not be like “alright here’s a song that’s going to be a hit” just to be a hit it’s not really why I ay music. I write songs, lyrics, that actually mean something to me and they’re real life and just trying not to lose the main goal which is WHY we play.
What inspires and motivates you to still pursue a career in music?
Because it’s fun. I like playing music it’s all I want to do. I do other things as well, I paint and I have other ways of being creative but for me I like making music and I like getting the reactions from people, hearing feedback from somebody who says “I listen to your song everyday” it’s fun.
Has anybody every told you how much your music has changed their lives?
Yeah, you got a lot of different people who are like “you are the reason I picked up the guitar” which is weird to think about, it’s hard to think that’s the reality but that’s one of the coolest parts of the job. Either inspiring people to want to play music or even inspiring people with my lyrics and realizing that you don’t have to hate or be negative in life. If some of my music makes someone rethink or learn, that’s what other people have done for me, it’s amazing for me to think that maybe I could do that for other people.
Yeah, Positive Mental Attitude.
Yeah, I don’t really waste much energy or time being negative about anything I just focus on what I can do better and enjoying everything and people and having fun and being honest.
What song or songs would you say represent your band the most?
Not even just saying that but the new song “I See Love” is probably my favorite song that I’ve ever written and I think the most representative of where I’m at now, just a dude growing up and not even knowing what was going to happen in life and then all of a sudden taking a crazy turn and just loving life and loving people and making the most out of their day.
What’s your favorite song you have ever written? Is it “I See Love”?
Yeah, I think it’s the new one. Even when we were writing it, we were working on it, and right when it was finished I was like “this is probably my favorite song that I have ever written.” If I was ever going to listen to my music, which I don’t, but if I was going to that would probably be the one that I would enjoy the most. Even for just the production of it, the way it went down and came together, everything about it. Even the cover of it, my buddy made, I love everything about it.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned working in the music industry?
Probably that things are not always going to be the way you thought they were going to be. You get surprises and curveballs all the time and it’s how you can overcome the obstacles. You have to be smarter than the business, than the music because a lot of it is politics and perception. As long as you’re happy. At the end of the day you have to live with yourself and know what you did. As long as I’m making the music I want to make, I’m good.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where's one place you would like to either play a show at again, or play it for the first time?
Play a show again would probably be, I like playing in Germany. I had a blast. Just cause the fans there are just so excited and glad you came and stoked about the music. Germany was a blast. Singapore was really fun. The place that I haven’t played that I’d love to play would probably be in Egypt in Cairo. As weird as it is I would love to play in Cairo.
Lastly, if the world were to really end in December, what would you be most proud of as a musician?
Umm… oh man… this is going to be tough. Music wise, I’d say the songs that I’m the most proud of are “True” and “I see Love.” Then just career wise, playing the presidential inauguration, playing for the president, or getting to meet Will Ferrell… there we go.