An Interview With Skinny Dippers

It’s clear that ‘Home’ has a very dreamy indie feel to it. I’m interested to know who you would consider as inspiration or influences in the music industry.

Ryan: I think influences are really important, but more as subconscious guideposts that exist in the back of my mind versus something I’m actively trying to emulate. However when recording ‘Home’ and the rest of the songs on my upcoming album ‘The Town And The City’ I had the opportunity to produce these songs with Dan and Jordan from the band TOLEDO. I think their sonic fingerprints are definitely all over this song and they were able to help capture those dreamy, surfy guitars, which perfectly match the lyrical content.

How did all the band members meet?

Ryan: Technically Skinny Dippers is just me! I’ve booked my debut album release show on August 24th here in New York at Rockwood Music Hall, and luckily I’ve got a network of really talented friends here in the city that I love to play with, so I’ll probably have a rotating cast of characters joining me on stage.

I’ve read that you are a multi-instrumentalist. What is your favourite instrument you play and why?

Ryan: My go-to instrument will likely always be the guitar! I first learned to play the keyboard when I was about 5 years old, started playing trumpet in middle school band, and also play other instruments like Bass and Banjo, but guitar is just so versatile that it’ll always be my go-to instrument. I’ve been playing for 15 years now, so I just feel most at home trying to work out chord changes or interesting rhythmic patterns with a guitar in my hand.

In ‘Home’, I see you’ve referenced your home state of Maine. What three things about your home state do you like the most?

Ryan: The natural beauty of Maine is something I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted. I grew up in a small town with lots of trails to run on through the woods, easy access to the beach a couple miles from my house, mountains to ski on in the winter, all kinds of beauty that can be found without having to travel far. The easy-going slow pace of things. Unlike New York there’s no “hustle” in Maine the same way there is here in the city, so I always feel extremely relaxed when getting to spend time in Maine. Most importantly the people of Maine are my favourite part. Most of my family still live back in Maine, and I have so many fond memories and lifelong friends after having spent my entire childhood growing up in the same town. There’s also a really strong feeling of community and a sense of wanting to help your neighbour which you just don’t get in a big city.

If you could add a musician to your group, who would be the best fit?

Ryan: Andrew Bird! We would have so much fun whilst harmonizing and I think his violin playing would fit right in on my folkier songs.

‘Home’ has the full package really – the lyrics, the production, the vocals. Take me through your creative process.

Ryan: Home is actually one of my very oldest songs, but one that I knew had to be a part of my debut album as a sort of ‘origin story’. I’m dating myself here, but I wrote this song in 2012 in college when I moved to NY to attend NYU. It was finals week and I really wanted to avoid writing a paper, so I sat down with an acoustic guitar and wrote both ‘Home’ and another song that’s going to be on the album called ‘Big City, Small Apartment’ in about an hour. Both of them were about missing home and looking forward to the carefree days of summer when I could hang on a beach with my friends. Typically when writing a song I start by playing around with some chords on acoustic guitar, then will hum a melody and try to figure out which words fit with the rhythmic pattern of the melody and feel of the chord changes.

So you’ve been releasing music for two years now. What has your experience been like in the music industry so far? What are the pros, cons, the highs, the lows?

Ryan: I’ve been playing in bands and releasing music my whole life, so it’s hard to filter down to just 1-2 years I’ve been creating as Skinny Dippers. Overall my experience has been extremely positive and incredibly rewarding. Skinny Dippers is the first time that I’ve gotten to completely shape my own sound and make all the creative decisions whereas in the past I always was one contributing member of a band. It has been great to see these songs move from rough voice memos or little seedlings of ideas to being fully realized as part of a full 10 song LP which I’ll be releasing in August. The release show and the full album drop will definitely be the highest point yet to come, but there have been tons of other high moments along the way including having my first song ‘Panties’ get released on Vinyl as part of Vinyl Moon’s month.

You can listen to Skinny Dippers’ latest single ‘Home’ here:

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