In Session: Ryan Hornick
ALBANY – in an industry that can lend itself well to negative concepts and pre-conceived wrapped up packages, local electronic producer, Ryan Hornick, who goes under the aliases of So.RY and Comfort Frequency, is dead set on being honest to himself and to the art that he creates. Knowing some upcoming projects in the works, I took a minute to sit down with this artist. What follows is our conversation.
Lucas Garrett: Ryan, thank you for taking some time out of your day to sit down with us. How are you?
Ryan Hornick: I’m good, man.
LG: Tell us a bit about yourself.
RH: I’ve been making music for a very long time. I grew up with two brothers that were very into music; that’s pretty much what started my addiction – I like to say – or obsession. Right around Albany, I was going to Valentine’s. Haha. I was a bit underage going to hardcore shows, rock and roll shows; all that good stuff. Then, I found out about this duo in Germany called Mode Selector around 2007, and that got me into more electronic music.
My brother, at the time, was getting me into Frank Zappa – he’s a really big inspiration, believe it or not. I also listen to The Cure – all genres of music he shoveled into my brain. There’s something about electronic music that hit me different. Then, I got really into techno music. Experimenting with electronic music is when I really started contacting people in Albany. Just getting into the scene.
Ten years ago is when I was DJing around Albany; Fuze Box every weekend, and Valentine’s before it got demolished! I played the Armory, all that stuff, and it was awesome. But at the time I was a little too young; it was getting to be too much for me, so I had to step away. Then, I had my amazing son, so I had to get my priorities straight.
LG: Do you play any instruments?
RH: Yeah, I do. I play guitar, and keyboard. I also like to sing a lot. My main thing is music production – all genres. My wonderful girlfriend plays violin, so I’m hoping to learn that as well; keep learning more instruments.
LG: I’ve produced my own album, but as an electronic producer, would you like to elaborate more on what that entails?
RH: I produce music; I make everything from scratch. A lot of times I do my own sound-designing, as well. When that happens, it starts going into audio engineering. I don’t like to call myself an audio engineer, though I do practice mixing and mastering my own work and other people’s work.
What I mean by producing is when I get all these ideas in my head. I use Ableton Live to produce, and I do most everything live. I hook up to my laptop and just create.
LG: From my limited understanding of electronic music, you do a lot of it in the moment, right?
RH: Yep. Most of my stuff is just feelings, honestly. I’m really into expressing; just let it all out. If it sounds awesome, it sounds awesome. If it doesn’t, at least you had fun creating it.
LG: As far as what I’ve produced, it can take up to a year…
RH: Especially with a band, it can take a while to get all things together.
LG: Right, so they seem like they can be wildly different.
RH: Yep. I do the whole beat thing, but I don’t always lead with that – I’m way deeper than just beats. It’s always a good outlet. I find it kind of increases your speed – workflow producing. I make music every day, and I like to challenge myself to do a certain style, or reference track of a genre. I try to mimic that as quickly as possible, and then I move on to my own work. My workflow is better, and I’m used to all my plug-ins that way.
LG: You have some new music coming out, right?
RH: Yes! Way too much, sir. Hahaha.
LG: Talk to us about that!
RH: COVID’s been crazy, and I’m worried about getting back into it. I used to DJ but I want to perform more live. It’s letting the dust settle, and seeing who’s popping out. I communicated with Brian (Endres) a few times; we were trying to get something together.
LG: Atlas.B, right?
RH: Of course! Ha. I noticed a lot of people that inspired me from the area fade away, move away. The scene decreased, sadly. I saw Brian do his thing around here, and that’s also my goal: bring some electronic back to the area. It doesn’t have to be crazy German techno. I make everything from house music, to funk, to soul music. It’s fun for people to just get out and dance: forget everything else and just enjoy their night.
I go by two aliases: So.RY and Comfort Frequency. So.RY is more dark, electronic, and experimental. That fades into the techno-funk music. Comfort started as a problem for my son, actually – he had a problem falling asleep, and I have problems with anxiety, so I did that to calm my nerves. Then, it evolved into way more. Now, it’s lo-fi hip-hop, lo-fi calm beats, to ambient, to what I call “soultronic,” which is R&B inspired.
I have a single for Comfort Frequency at the end of this month, on January 30th, called “Our Safe Haven.” That’s an ambient, calming track. That’ll lead into my EP that’ll be coming out, called L.A.F.S., which is dedicated to my girlfriend. I met her a few years ago and she is just really the best support system I’ve ever had.
LG: That’s awesome.
RH: That whole EP is raw and inspired by R&B and soul. There’s a nice mixture of stuff going on.
LG: Do you have other music happening?
RH: This past Friday under So.RY, I released the EP FINAL DAYS (Jan. 13th), it’s really dark and experimental. The end of this month I have a techno-inspired track called “Overexposure.” On Feb. 28th, I’m releasing a techno EP that’ll lead me into getting more shows. I want to do a roughly-once-a-month release for the algorithm. But as an independent artist, I usually just release whenever I want to.
On April 3rd, I have a funk EP coming out, and then between those two EPs I’ll have 8 solid tracks for getting shows. Just non-stop creating, man. Honestly, it saved me. I deal with mental health and depression, and music’s always been my savior.
LG: Do you mind talking more about that?
RH: I don’t mind.
LG: A lot of us go through but don’t talk about it. I feel the more we get that out there in the world, the better. What’re your thoughts on music and mental health? Can you elaborate more on that?
RH: What do you mean, exactly?
LG: What are your thoughts on the duality that often arises between them? There seems to be a lot of creative people out there that have some kind of mental health issue they deal with.
RH: Yeah. It does come, sadly, hand-in-hand. Most of us aren’t proud of it, and a lot of people don’t realize that we don’t choose to be like this: we want to be happy; we want to be better; we want to succeed; we want our loved ones to be happy and succeed. We don’t want them to share this pain and negativity. I think that’s why a lot of us are creative people. The art is so beautiful and we can express ourselves however we want through it. It’s really important to get your feelings out – not everyone has someone to talk to, sadly. It’s a really good way to get your feelings out. But it’s a double-edged sword.
At first, you’re like, “I’ll just release music because I want to. I want to create and get this out of me.” Then, you start caring, and that’s a hard thing to balance. There’re days when people love your stuff, then you have these people that are just so hateful online for no reason.
RH: That’s when your mental illness hangs on to the negative stuff more than the positive.
LG: You can hear one hundred amazing things and one bad thing…
RH: That’s all you hang on to.
LG: You only remember that one bad thing. I deal with some mental health stuff, and it seems this industry really draws that type of person in. I don’t know of a creative of any kind that is happy all the time.
RH: As a personal decision, I stopped drinking years ago. Drugs were a big thing in the DJ scene; that’s another weird thing, almost being blacklisted by that scene. “You’re not a real musician if you’re not getting wasted, doing drugs, and having sex with every person you see.” That’s not the part of the art. That’s another reason I had to step back. It was too much negative stuff around me. I had to take a while to put my feelers out there.
LG: It’s almost like you have to be “real according to society’s norms.”
LG: “If it gets too real, I don’t want you to be real, anymore!” That’s kind of how it sometimes is, in my opinion.
RH: That’s another reason for So.RY. I released an EP all about mental health. I sang over all my electronic stuff. It got mixed things, from “Thanks for being so honest,” to “We don’t want to hear that shit!” It’s me. They wanted realness, there it is.
Being real is the most important thing you can do as an artist. Be transparent – don’t be fake. That shit will catch up to you, so there’s no point. Just be yourself, don’t be jealous. Ask questions, and just keep improving. No one’s ever – in my opinion – capped out at their maximum capacity of their creativeness. Learn new stuff: different arts; different crafts. Just keep growing.
LG: It doesn’t even happen to be in music.
RH: Exactly. I’ve been learning languages this year.
LG: That might find its way into your art, you know?
LG: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
RH: No one should be ashamed of who they are. I want to spread more positivity in the music scene around here. I want to meet the right people and give back to the community.
LG: It was very nice talking to you today!
RH: It was nice meeting you! I appreciate your time so much, Lucas. Take care.
LG: You too, bye.