You've probably already seen them play at many locations around Central Oregon and heard her iconic voice, but The Jess Ryan Band is about to do something it hasn't done yet: release an album. Made up of James Hutchens, Joshua Hernandez, Patrick Bedard, Andrew Lyons and, of course, Jess Ryan, the band recorded the album over six months at Featherlight Studios in Bend. The group made sure to make the most of its time in the studio, releasing an album that extends beyond just rock music. At times it's jazzy, slightly punk, slightly folky and always fun. My personal favorite is "Love Me Love Me Not."
Ahead of the band's release show at Volcanic Theatre Pub, the Source Weekly chatted with Ryan about the album and her experiences with music.
Source Weekly: What was the recording process like for you? Did you have most of the songs written?
Jess Ryan: Yeah, definitely. We had all the songs written. At that point we had the hard discussion of which songs do we want to be on the album, and as a band, we kind of deliberated on that. But we were also really open to the idea of exploring and adding new layers and depths to those songs in the studio. We were looking forward to that part.
SW: I imagine it was fun to get in there and play around with material?
JR: Exactly! And I love Steven! He's the main guy over there at Featherlight Studios. He was like, 'we're gonna record everything, AND the kitchen sink!' Which is great, because I love that, like, 'let's hear as much as we can.' He encouraged this environment where we could explore and try different things. And it turned out really well, I think.
SW: Throughout the album you have this balance of these really jazzy and rocky sounds, and it's cool to see you guys switch it up on basically every song.
JR: That was one of the things we talked about. Were we going to have some theme with the songs? Were these songs too different from one another? Is it going to be a cohesive album? But in the end we chose songs that, you know, this is what we're writing, this is who we are. We're not easily defined or pigeonholed into one category. And I like that the album reflects that.
“This band, these guys that I play with–I’ve waited to find them and be with them to do this. I am so honored to work with them.”—Jess Ryan
SW: One thing with your voice, it was impressive to see you extend it to such different spots. Have you been singing for a long time?
JR: I remember when I was kid, like singing in the backyard at the top of my lungs and getting told to, like, shut up because I was being obnoxious or annoying people [laughs]. But yeah, I was in choir in junior high school. Growing up, whenever somebody asked me what I wanted to be I always said I wanted to be a singer or an actress. It was recently brought to my attention when I told someone that, they were like, 'well you are! You're doing both things.' I'm not currently doing theatre, but the theatrics are there in our performance. James, our guitarist, will always say I'm "hamming it up." But I can't help but get into it. It's just who I am.
SW: Who were some of your influences growing up, as far as singing goes?
JR: I started listening to Ani Difranco when I was 15. She was a huge influence on me...I was really drawn to all the rocker chicks. Fiona Apple; I really like her.
SW: Are you excited about the release show coming up?
JR: I am so excited! My mom is coming from Arizona and I think a bunch of our friends are gonna be there. I mean, this is something I've wanted to do my whole life, record an album.
I do believe that everything happens in perfect time, space, and sequence. For me, it's like, I had to do certain things. Experience, and travel and love and feel heartbreak—and all these things led me here in Central Oregon with these guys. This band, these guys that I play with—I've waited to find them and be with them to do this. I am so honored to work with them.