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Ryan Flores is a Creative Wonder Behind 'Introspective'

On Introspective—the first full-length album from in his catalog—Ryan Flores asks listeners to look within themselves and discover the fluctuating simple and complex emotions of life and the joy and stress that comes with it.

Nurtured by gratifying melodies and serene sounding mixes, The Toronto-based singer-songwriter and guitarist has spent the past few years exploring and developing his ornate brand of acoustic forward pop music, amalgamating the influences from The Beatles, to Destiny's Child.

His tenor often feels like a solicitation to a get absorbed into the lyrics as they shine with authentic representation and careful melancholy hidden amongst flattering and uplifting textures. With Introspective, Flores transforms his songs from individual sentiments of regretful longing and into a fluid discourse of interjections about love; ultimately utilizing his voice as a conductor through passion, friendship, stress, and struggle.

Undulating his acoustic guitar components between spritely rhythms and gospel-like stanzas, Flores piles on blissful harmonies from ear to ear, producing the sensation of release. Throughout the album, his "usual suspect" instrumentations of acoustic guitars are essential in the foundation it provides. It also synergizes with low rumbling bass and a drummer with a steady kick that's regularly flanked by bouncy gospel-like measures.

This is usually commonplace on Introspective, but there are outliers here: the key and piano accompaniments, and the occasional duet, like on Work With Me, featuring the heavenly Denis Badua. He even throws in some synths that drift in and out of focus on See The Stars. The orchestrations here turn Introspective into a clear perception of Pop Music that's steadily diffusing its boundaries, urging us to dive in before it all melts away into the serenity of Flores's performance. Probably the most notable feature here is his powerful register that sometimes mirrors a blend of influences from names like Ne-Yo, AJ Rafael, and Elton John.

At first sight, song titles like "Alone" and "A Little Lonely" suggest the melancholy found in throughout Introspective. But still, Flores's overall broadcast is one that sounds optimistic and bright, while the deliberately straight-forward lyrics allow him to focus on a vocal performance that engages us relentlessly. With highs and lows, silent reflections, and grief, among other subjects found in his first full-length, Flores still manages to enhance the authenticity and vulnerability of the emotions he features in his music with acute accuracy.

Introspective's introduction swoops in with a booming kick on This Road—a song about the compassion and optimism behind Ryan Flores's mindset—before downshifting Introspective from a more uplifting mindset and into a sensual chiming R&B creation in Lovesick. Here, you are faced with a struggle within creating change in a relationship and going back to basics, remembering what makes love genuinely blossom in the first place. He opts for a smooth simmering feel on Eyes On You—of course, and isn't urgent or rushed, as the song recounts uncertainty in a crush, and the clumsiness we all experience in our hearts with relation to being hooked on someone. Yet, Flores renders it up perfectly like a 3-D printed painting with the description attached: "If only you knew what I'm going through if only you knew that I love you!"

Better This Way shifts our perspective on this album with a dash of rallying energy behind it. With a thwacking snare drum and an orchestration of vocal harmonies that deserves a place in your favorite daydreams, this song soars and develops to enamoring heights. And then there's a song called Back To You, which might secure a place in any contemporary music fan's heart. With a friendly tinge of the acoustic guitar, the enormous expanse of the chorus, and even a guitar solo to make things even more delightful, there's nothing left to be desired. The topline is the game-changer here, with lyrics that stick, "every time I think I'm feeling low, you're the only one who always knows what to say to get me through the deep."

We're still smooth sailing at this point, and this time with a more interpretive modern feel. "A Little Lonely" throws jangly candy at you in the form of sonic kisses from ear to ear, leaving enough space in the center for the sweet gooey harmonies found in the verse, before for giving us a moment to collect ourselves for the next words. "Sometimes I get a little lonely... and I wanna try to understand, should I play it for all it's worth," he sings out in the final repetitions. The highlight on this album comes in the beautifully orchestrated song called Alone, featuring minimalistic instrumentation that works to keep you focused on Flores's warm vocals. "I won't let time heal all this pain, thinking I might lose control, cause I'm feeling so alone," he sings while extending into the varied vibratos and crescendos.

Even as simple as this track seems, it holds on to its charge of magnetism through its spaciousness, the finger to string-grazing goodness on the guitars, and the weight behind the song landing on our chest—and it's quietly devastating in virtue.

Discover more about "Introspective" here.

Hello Ryan, thank you for sitting down with us at BuzzMusic. What are some of the primary emotions you're feeling right now with the release of 'Introspective?' This is your first full length and indeed a milestone in every artist's career at some point.

It’s really a combination of excitement and a bit of anxiety. I’m stoked to finally be releasing a full-length album to the world. Some of these songs have been in my “vault” for years, and it’s about time that I finally share them with everyone. At the same time, I’m experiencing a bit of anxiety, as I always do, when I release something so personal to me and having it available for everyone to hear. So much time, money, and work went into making this album possible, and I can only hope that listeners will love and appreciate the songs and the stories behind them. Regardless, this is definitely a milestone for me as a small, independent artist. It’s always been my dream to release a full-length album since I started my music career, and the day that dream comes true is finally here.

When did you grow fond of the acoustic guitar and has played into the dark side of electric guitars every tickled your curiosity?

My dad was the person who got me playing the acoustic guitar at a young age. In fact, he was the one who got me into music in general. I remember really loving the sound of the acoustic guitar when I first heard him and some of my relatives jamming out on it. I then took private guitar lessons for a few years, and then surprisingly stopped playing guitar altogether for almost 10 years. When I was around 19, I picked up the acoustic guitar again. I re-learned some basic chords and when used with a capo, I was able to learn and play a lot of my favorite songs at the time. That eventually turned into me writing my own original songs around 2009, and the rest is history. I got my first ever electric guitar about 2 years ago, and at this point, I play it as if I was playing my acoustic guitar. I definitely do not know how to shred or solo, but that’s something that I’ve been wanting to explore recently. Maybe on the next record?

Did you come across any challenges while creating 'Introspective?'

There were definitely challenges that I experienced while making this album. While that does sound a bit negative, a lot of these challenges actually helped me learn more about the production process, more about myself as a writer and as a singer, and more about collaborating with others. The biggest challenge I would say was funding the whole project as a small, relatively unknown independent artist. I ended up funding most of the project with my own money that I have saved prior to the start of production, and through working a part-time job during production. I also ran a crowdfunding campaign last summer that helped to cover up some of the production expenses. Choosing to invest so much into this project was a really big decision for me, and I’m happy to say that I’m very satisfied with the final product. Funding was just one of the challenges. I won’t go into great detail, but other challenges included logistics, creative direction for the songs, putting together my team, and deciding upon a release date for the album.

Where did you record this production, and what was your support team like throughout this process?

This album was recorded in a number of studios across the Toronto, ON area. Fretted Music Studio is a really great home studio in Mississauga, ON. It’s super intimate and homey but very equipped with awesome music gear. Another Mississauga-based studio I recorded at was Atlas Sound Studio, again very intimate and such a vibe. Within Toronto, I recorded vocals for one of my songs at Revolution Recording, a high-end professional recording studio. One of my producers was an intern at the time and presented the opportunity to record there to me, to which I happily said yes! And then there’s Signal Creative Community, a co-working space targeted to artists and music business individuals. I was a second-tier member at the time, and I leveraged my access to their studios to record parts of my album, as well as holding meetings and editing sessions. Lastly, my own bedroom. Yes, parts of my album were recorded right in the comfort of my bedroom studio. In terms of my support team, my producers and recording engineers include Denice Badua, Colton Maddigan, and Renée Soucy, all people who I’ve met while I was a student at Metalworks Institute. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with great session musicians including Andrew Bevilacqua, Mike Carbone, Stefan Loebus, Ron Miller, and Abi Greenland. In terms of mixing, I brought on Jesse Barrera, one of my favorite artists and producers, and someone who I’ve collaborated with on my first EP “Wayfarer”. And last, but certainly not least, I had Noah Mintz take care of the mastering and finishing touches to the whole project. All these individuals have been so positive and encouraging throughout the whole process, and this truly would not have been possible without all of their knowledge and contributions.

What can we expect for the future of Ryan Flores? Are you planning anything exciting we should put on our calendars?

I drafted a list of songs that I would love to have on a future album right after I finalized this one. I’m hoping to take everything I learned from my experience creating “Introspective” and applying it to a future album project. That’s more long-term. For the short-term, I am currently recording and editing a documentary on the making of “Introspective”, featuring behind the scenes clips in the studio, interviews with people I collaborated, challenges I faced, and personal stories and experiences about each of the songs and the recording process. I’m hoping to have the documentary out by Fall 2020. And lastly, as passionate as I am about writing my own songs, I’m also very enthusiastic about sharing great music by other smaller artists and creatives through the playlists I curate for KWNTO Sounds, which is a platform dedicated to shining the spotlight on smaller, independent artists. Follow me on my socials to stay up to date on any future projects I have coming!


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