On The Radar: RY X

The globe-trotting Aussie is set to release his ethereal second album
Sam Willis

There’s a dichotomy within RY X between collaboration and isolation. The Australian LA-based singer and producer spent his formative years in a disconnected coastal community, surfing and picking fruit directly from his garden. He has since spent years travelling the world, with a substantial chunk of that time immersing himself in the techno and experimental electronic scenes of Berlin. The subtle friction generated by those two existences leaves watermarks in his music, as a solo artist and within his collaborative projects, as well as in the processes he uses.

In his art, as well as in his life, RY X is concerned with moving the concept of border. “Just take one example of me happening upon Berlin as a place, eight years ago or so,” he says. “To learn the world of that, to learn a different genre and to not know it existed being in Australia and the US, and then suddenly seeing it and feeling a connection with it and wanting to explore it, that all comes from the seed of travel; opening your mind, your body and your heart to experience.”
Paralleled to that openness, RY X has a reverence for isolation during the creative process; a symptom of his time and space in Australia that he sometimes “aches” for. “I tend to go a bit more into hibernation and do the things I know re-centre me,” he says, “which is time with the ocean and meditation, quietness and being with nature, like up in the mountains here where I live. It allows me to get back to that place within myself so that when I make work it’s imbued with that energy.”
These two lineages of experience coalesce seamlessly on his second solo album, Unfurl. The songs are distant, ethereal and solitary, but there is a sense of inclusiveness within their personal vulnerability for all of the faraway mysticism.
“I’ve always had a deep reverence for the ethereal and the spiritual”, he says. “Asking people to look a little deeper, not necessarily just at themselves but to the world around them. That’s what I feel my role is; to put a mirror up for people, to stand in vulnerability for people and to share and show that you can explore these things in your own heart and in your own life.
“I think this record is more explorative in terms of sound and there’s more depth in the questioning of the ethereal and meta space. There’s a lot of different ideas and concepts that I’ve pulled in from different collaborations, feelings and learnings over the years and it feels like an opening point.”
As well as exploring the self, RY X believes strongly in “creating change through art”. One of his other projects, The Acid, recently played at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony with their anti-nuclear installation piece The Bomb. Ry says that just before they were about to go on stage, one of the judging panel members came up to the band and said: “All the foreign ministers and the dignitaries are out there and the foreign minister for Norway is in the front row. We haven’t signed the nuclear disarmament act yet and we think this performance is going to change the foreign minister’s mind, so good luck.” No pressure, then.