The first song we’ve heard of Sleeping At Last was featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy back in 2013. Ever since, we’ve not only fallen in love with the cover songs used in the series, but also with his original work. We could not feel more honoured that Ryan took some time to answer some questions for us.
Hi Ryan! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. How are you today?
Absolutely my pleasure!! Thank you for wanting to chat. I’m doing really well today, thank you for asking!
You are the mastermind behind Sleeping At Last which most people may recognise from TV Shows like Grey’s Anatomy or The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part 1. Do you remember the first memory in your own life that is connected to music?
Wow, what a great question! My first memory with music is probably connected to my very first CD purchase, which was Disney’s The Lion King Soundtrack! I absolutely loved it and I remember there being a few songs on that album that gave me the chills, which I believe is the very beginning of my love for ballads and emotional music.
Chicago is an important music city especially for Jazz and Blues. Do you think the city influences you and your music?
I think the Chicago weather has had more of an influence on me than the music of Chicago! The extreme Winters and Summers have probably forced me to be more introspective since so much of the year is spent indoors. Indirectly though, I love Jazz music and early 40’s vocal Jazz has been a huge inspiration to me over the years. Artists like Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Nina Simone, etc. have been longtime favorites of mine.
Having such an incredible success in Sync. Do you feel any pressure coming from knowing that your music will be heard by millions of Grey’s Anatomy fans around the world?
It’s more privilege than pressure! I feel SO lucky and honored that Grey’s Anatomy viewers and listeners have been so kind and welcoming to me and my music, as part of the Grey’s Anatomy universe! So when I hear Grey’s is kind enough to let my songs be a part, it is such a gift that my songs will reach new ears!!
While you write your own songs, you do also a lot of cover versions. Do you prefer writing your own songs and are they based on your own experiences?
Writing my own music is definitely my favorite aspect of my career, as it is the place I sort out everything I’m thinking and feeling. They are primarily based on my experiences, or stories that I write inspired by my experiences or observations. It’s therapy for me to write and it’s always been incredibly important to me to always write honestly and sincerely, so that rule keeps me writing personal songs always. Getting to cover songs is SO much fun too, as it gives me an opportunity to appreciate and resonate with other’s work in a way that I haven’t before. Reimagining songs, especially ones from genres I don’t typically listen to, is a joy and is super educational, to see the heart with which other music was written.
The mission of our website is bringing people together with the power of music and letting them share a story to a song that is connected to something special in their life as a song that helped someone might be able to help someone else too. Is there a specific song that helped you and would you mind sharing the story?
Of course! Hmm… I’ll pick my song “North” which is a prayer of sorts. I wrote it as the first song written in a new home my wife and I purchased. As with any large transition in life, there was a lot of fear and worry to start a new life in a new space. It’s vulnerable. So I wrote about it. I wrote it as a prayer that life would be kind to us and the family we would hopefully begin there. 4 years have since passed and now we just moved into another new space, so there is a lot of reflection on that gate and that uprooting and replanting. That song is growing with me and the prayer is more applicable now than ever. It helped me process my feelings of transition and goodbyes and all that comes with such a change. That’s one example. Another is my song “Touch” in which I wrote about my year of feeling very low. Numb. It’s me sorting out my feelings, or lack of feelings and was a very personal song for me, maybe even my most personal and vulnerable. Again, helped me a lot to process out loud in writing that song.
Do you use other artistic expressions next to music and in your opinion, what makes music so unique?
I love taking pictures! I’m not really great at it, but I enjoy it. As for music, my Mom always told me that music is a voice that speaks into people’s lives, when no other voice can. I think that’s incredibly true and is exactly why music is special. It can reach into people in a way that language without music can. There’s some sort of magic in the way that certain music can resonate within people. It’s the same magic that I felt when I was a kid listening to the Lion King Soundtrack, I’m guessing!
It seems like on the one side there are people who say: “music saved my life” while on the other, people deny that music itself has the ability to save someone. Would you mind sharing your opinion with us?
I personally believe that ANY good and true art can be a source of love and hope and understanding that has the ability to be the right thing and the right time for people. So yes, I believe that music can save people! But not exclusively music – thankfully, in my opinion, God can use anything to open people’s hearts in the right way to pull them out of despair. Music can be a beautiful vehicle for that.
Before we come to an end, is there anything you would like to say to people who are struggling at the moment?
You are here for a reason. In spite of the incredibly difficult things you’ve had to face, I truly believe that you are here with great purpose, and I personally consider it a privilege to get to be here, on this earth, at the same time as you. As with everything in life, the struggle will fade and hope will come into view. Every thing rises and falls. No matter how dark it seems, light will always come through the cracks. Please keep fighting, please keep waking up with bravery and courage to push through darkness on behalf of the light around the corner.