BILLY SUTER talks to popular 37-year-old Pietermaritzburg singer-musician and music teacher RYAN CALDER, who is crowdfunding to finance his third album. The collection will form part of a wider and ambitious arts project that incorporates podcasts, multimedia video and animation.
TELL US ABOUT THE PLANNED NEW ALBUM
I am hoping for a November release. It will be titled The Great Deep, based on the picture/idea in the Bible – Psalm 36:6 “Your justice is like the great deep”.I am looking at between 12 and 14 tracks.
I like the variety of the tunes in this collection. I have collaborated on three of the tracks with hip-hop artist Sandile Khambule, known artistically as The McK. He’s really talented and a friend of mine.
The Great Deep is my exploration of some of life’s questions and my own personal journey through some them.
WHAT PLANS TO PROMOTE THE NEW ALBUM?
The album is part of The Great Deep project – a wider arts project where I’m recording podcasts, drawing cartoons and starting my long-standing dream of animation.
We’re actively pushing it on social media and I’ll be touring in the latter part of the year with a live show that incorporates multimedia video and animation.
My goal is to bring people together through my art and my music. It’s not altogether unique to find a musician who is skilled in other artistic areas, but it is rare to see them all combined in a project.
WHY CROWDFUNDING ONLINE?
I am aiming to raise R30 000 before the end of October. We started a week ago. For years, I’ve resisted the urge to put together a crowdfunding campaign. It’s never sat well with me: the idea that people pay upfront for something that hasn’t been produced.
I suppose many others think that way when it comes to the arts and music. And yet, isn’t this how many other business practices operate? Payment upfront to secure service or products.
Over and above that, there are many other instances of musicians who have the support of their communities and who have far exceeded what the original goal was. So I have a page set up on ryancalder.co.za and I am directing anyone who is keen to support this project to go there.
WHAT IS THE FINANCIAL PLAN FOR THE PRODUCTION OF THE ALBUM?
Brent Quinton, a friend and world-class sound engineer, is mixing the album. His rate is at least R500 per hour. There are at least 12 songs… so at three to four hours per song, we’re looking at R24 000.
Graphics and professional photography to promote the album and the project make up the rest of the budget at R6 000. This is a modest budget which includes clothes, props, transport to photographic settings and the like.
The worst that can happen is no one donates… but so far, we’ve received R450!
I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress and as we go along.
WHERE AND WHEN WERE SONGS RECORDED?
The album has been predominantly recorded at my home studio, called Dabbles Studio. One of the fun things we’ve done is have a few of the tracks featuring gang vocals, recorded at our live shows around the country.
We taught the audience a line or a lyric, put a mic in the middle of the room, and recorded the audience live. So we have representatives on the album from suburbs like Hayfields (Pietermaritzburg), Claremont (Cape Town), Randburg (Joburg) and Plettenberg Bay.
HOW WILL THE NEW COLLECTION COMPARE TO YOUR TWO PREVIOUS ALBUMS?
Musically, the previous albums were predominantly acoustic guitar-driven, whereas this collection of songs has a synthesis of various lead instruments – predominantly piano and electric guitar.
WHAT MUSICAL INFLUENCES ARE IN YOUR SOUND?
It’s a bit of a sound kaleidoscope this time round. I suppose it’s a blend of most contemporary, alternative pop.
HOW MANY INSTRUMENTS CAN YOU PLAY AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET BITTEN BY THE MUSIC BUG?
I play guitar, drums, ukulele, bass and a bit of keyboard. I suppose it was in high school when the bug bit me… our music teacher needed a drummer for the school musical and I put my hand up and said I could play.
I didn’t tell her I’d only been playing for a week, but I]m sure she could tell by the time rehearsals started! She was incredibly gracious and it was through the that process that I learned how to play drums and got into music.
ARE YOU A FULL-TIME MUSICIAN?
I teach music at two schools and perform in between. I used to write for The Witness but I have been out of journalism for seven years.
TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOURSELF
I like to work from home. As a father of three and married to a high school drama teacher, life isn’t exactly tranquil, but lyrics and ideas are bountiful in all my day-to-day activities. As a teacher and an event co-ordinator, there’s always plenty to reflect on and be inspired by in any given week.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EARLIER ALBUMS
Both were self-funded. Better Days was released in 2005 and On The Edge in 2010.
ARE YOU STILL DOING TRIBUTE SHOWS AND MAKING SOLO APPEARANCES?
Yes, I play in various theatre shows and have been fortunate that there is a constant stream of work for me in KwaZulu-Natal.