Manhattan-based R&B pop artist Ryan Whitman has been passionate about music his whole life.
After beginning the piano at 5 years old, he quickly developed an early love for jazz music, with this love soon growing to encompass R&B and soul.
While others were discovering their love for AC/DC, Ryan was discovering the works of Erykah Badu and Sade. Ryan’s Body Heat EP is a combination of songs that explore the complexities of relationships, self-assurance and self acceptance.
His out of the box personal style and rejection of current trends and stereotypes is a reflection of who he is as an artist and the message of his music: empowerment, individuality and hope.
Let’s talk about your new EP “Body Heat” that will be released June 8… is there a link/something that connects all the lyrics of the album?
This EP explores relationships and the different forms of relationships – there’s a lot of longing, a bit of heartbreak, anger, and wonder spread across the tracks. But there’s also a lot of confidence in saying I don’t need someone who doesn’t realize what they’ve got.
If someone mistreats me, I’m gone. If a relationship doesn’t work out, it wasn’t the right relationship. Respect yourself and give yourself love, the rest will fall into place.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal experience to strangers through your music?
I’ve never really been scared of that actually! Writing music has always helped me really reflect on moments in my life, whether it’s working through a painful experience or celebrating a moment of joy, and in turn I hope my music helps others relate, know they’re not alone, and see themselves in my music.
What has your journey in the music industry been like up to now?
Long! When I was 3 years old I started asking for a piano or a harp. When I was 5 my parents finally caved and got me a piano.
I’ve been playing ever since and started writing songs when I was around 12. At the end of high school when I was debating what road to take with my music, I got to meet one of my all-time favorite groups, The Manhattan Transfer, during their sound check at The Keswick Theater.
They told me to study the industry, to really embrace and encompass all parts of my art as an artist. I feel it’s the best advice I’ve ever been given.
I got my degree in music industry and marketing, and working in the industry now on the business side has really helped me look at everything I do as an artist, from social media to style, as an extension of my music.
What was the soundtrack to your childhood?
Manhattan Transfer (Surprise), Whitney, The Carpenters, Brandy, Gloria Estefan, Madonna, Celine Dion, Dusty Springfield, I was really kind of all over! I will say I wore out Wilson Phillip’s CD – you could always find me on our backyard swing set belting ‘Hold On.’
What was the first record you ever bought?
Gloria Estefan’s Greatest Hits. I was 6 or 7 when I first heard her at a friend’s house. My life was CHANGED.
As soon as I got home I asked if we could go to the record store to get that CD. Gloria Estefan was also my first concert.
What is your favorite song (not written by you) lyrically speaking?
You guys ask the hard hitting questions! I’d have to say either Landslide or Silver Springs by Stevie Nicks, A House Is Not a Home by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, or Because You Loved Me by Diane Warren.
What inspired your new single “If You Really Want To” ?
I wrote “If You Really Want To” halfway through the recording process in response to an article I read about a mother who refused to let her son get a butterfly painted on his face at a fair because “he was a boy and butterflies were for girls.”
I started thinking of all the times I’ve heard people say “I wish I could be ok with…” or “I wish I was comfortable enough with myself to…” and I just went to the piano and started writing.
It’s a plea that if we want a brighter future we have to let people be true to themselves and come together as a worldwide community in the spirit of love and acceptance.
Do you remember the day you wrote “Raspberry Kisses”?
I do! It was actually the start of a new day at around 1am. I’m normally not a night owl, so I don’t know what had me up, but I just knew I had to write. “Raspberry Kisses” was done in about 20 minutes and never changed after that night.
The song was inspired by a relationship I had when I was younger. They liked to go out to the clubs and I was very busy at that point so I didn’t.
I heard later that they were cheating on me at the clubs, and that’s when I called it a day. Raspberry kisses in the middle of the night are never gonna make it right – buh bye, get out.
What inspired “If I Believed”?
This song was something new for me. I recently dated someone where we broke up, but later down the line that spark was still there.
You know how it is.. they keep liking your insta pics, slip in the dms, want to get together, and then you start to feel the flirting and have to wonder…if I believed that you would come back to me, would I be crazy to believe it?
What is the best show you ever played?
I’m going to say the best is still to come! I love playing live and always prefer that to being in the recording studio, so it’s really hard for me to choose a best show. Maybe the release show for this first EP? See you there?
What are your plans for 2018?
I’m looking forward to doing a lot of live shows, recording more music, much much more dancing, and ditching plastic straws.