By Veronica Lee
Mating Ritual is the critically acclaimed solo endeavor of Ryan Marshall Lawhon, former band member of Pacific Air. First re-appearing on the scene with self-titled four song EP in early 2016, Marshall explored synth dance pop tunes with emphasis on anthem-like bouncy toe-tapping. Mating Ritual was met with success and sparked the desire to create a full length album.
After two years of writing and recording in places as unlikely and dissimilar as traditional recording studios, garages, apartment lofts,and even a cruise ship, Mating Ritual is embarking on a West Coast tour to premier the new music. How You Gonna Stop It?, the album title track single is currently showcasing what hard work and creative approaches can produce. The full recording will soon be released in two-parts; Mating Ritual shares with us why that approach makes the most sense and even more about the recording process of How You Gonna Stop It?. Marshall also speaks on the current status of being an artist in political centered 2017 and why Denver, and DIY space Seventh Circle in particular, felt like an important place to perform.
Mile High Feedback: With such a variety of recording spaces, which location offered you the most of something new and unexpected?
Mating Ritual: Surprisingly, my apartment. While some places offered more interesting sounds (particularly this one long marble hallway we used for guitars), there’s no beating the supreme comfort of what’s familiar. I would record in these other environments looking for something to change up or inspire a new sound, but often times the planned pressure of being creative wouldn’t result in anything new or exciting. The moment the pressure was off and I was in my comfort zone, something would click. Some of the albums best moments came right after a recording session.
MHF: Were the locations planned and methodical or were they more organic and spontaneous
MR: Several were planned, like studios and places we couldn’t be too loud in, but friends hallways and bathrooms and the cruise I took with my brother were usually much more spontaneous.
MHF: Why is this debut album being released as a two-volume endeavor?
MR: Releasing 2 volumes is me adapting to modern listening practices. I love listening to full albums and the context they provide about the artist, how the themes connect and interplay, things that are difficult to grasp when only listening to a 3-minute single. I wish it wasn’t a part of releasing music, but recording and promoting a full-length record is very expensive, especially since I’ve chosen to stay DIY through this whole process. Releasing in 2 volumes surprisingly makes the recording process much more approachable for me financially, while still getting my music to people in a format that I feel comfortable with. It’s also given me the fun challenge of creating two albums that work both individually and as a whole.
MHF: What is the most gratifying aspect of being in a solo project?
MR: The creative autonomy. No committee’s or labels to push their vision onto the music.
MHF: What is the most challenging part of Mating Ritual that you didn’t experience in Pacific Air?
MR: The creative autonomy. Every decision comes down to me and I rarely know if I’m doing the right thing.
MHF: What about Denver made this city feel like an important place to perform?
MR: Denver is one of my favorite cities in America. I have many friends and great memories of playing there with Pacific Air. The food is both amazing and healthy, an oasis of sorts after traveling through the plains. We love eating well on the road, and Denver has never disappointed.
MHF: What is the focus of this tour and what are you looking forward to most?
MR: The purpose of any tour for me personally is to connect with fans and friends in a more human and visceral way than the internet allows. This is Mating Ritual’s first run outside of LA, so I’m really excited about introducing people to the music in the setting that I created it to be heard in. While I love making records, I view Mating Ritual as a live band first so I cannot wait for people to experience that with us.
MHF: Currently DIY spaces are being targeted and locations are limited and/or closing in Denver, what about performing in a venue such as Seventh Circle became a priority?
MR: After Ghost Ship, there’s no way to know how long DIY spots will be around, so especially since this is our first tour, I felt it important to hit spots like Seventh Circle while we can. I grew up in San Diego, and some of my best show memories were at the DIY spot, the Che Cafe. There’s something so personal and raw about being a couple feet away from the band, the music feels as real and tangible as it ever will.
MHF: With the current state of the nation, what about being an artist feels most exciting and/or most worrisome?
MR: This entire election process shook my perspective on what our country truly values, and how at odds with it I am. Posting on our socials and blogs had little impact on the outcome, and we must now take action in more tangible ways to really have an affect, and we can’t assume that anyone else will do it for us. If we want something to get done, we’ve got to do it for ourselves.
MHF: What else would you like Denver and the readers of Mile High Feedback to know about you that they may not already?
MR: I love eating at restaurants completely unique to each city, where you can feel the history of the chef and the cuisine, so if anyone has any suggestions for Denver I’d be forever appreciative!
Hear Mating Ritual’s Single How You Gonna Stop It? HERE!
Learn more about Mating Ritual at Seventh Circle HERE!