With her full-length LP on its way, we know RYAN Playground is one to watch, so we sat down with the musician to talk skate culture, how modeling can feel like “a cage,” and beating up boys.
Why the name RYAN Playground?
I started modeling very young. My real name is Genevieve, and my last name is Ryan. And there were too many Genevieves in the agency, so I decided to call myself Ryan for modeling. Then when I decided to release music, they started using the name Ryan again, but I wanted something more in the name. Because I’ve been doing music my whole life, I kind of consider it my playground. So it’s as simple as that.
When I think of a playground, I think of adjectives like “nostalgic” and “colorful” and even “childlike.” Your name is very fitting in that way.
Yeah. I’ve always done a lot of sports like basketball and skateboarding. I feel like that is part of the choice, too. I love to play. I love to play pool, I love to play baby-foot. I’m just a player.
I read that you’ve been skating for a while. In any way are you influenced by skate culture in your music or aesthetic?
I’ve always been influenced clothing-wise. Ever since I was five years old, that’s what I’ve liked to wear. Also just the designs of skate brands, as well as the music that can be associated with it. I listened to pop punk music my whole childhood, and I’m still listening to a lot of that now. It influences me, for sure.
Does this music influence your sound, or is it separate?
It’s more the aesthetic, but there’s definitely a bit of the sound influence. Pop punk vibes.
That’s very easy: blink-182. They’ve been my number one forever.
I definitely wouldn’t have thought that.
I think it changes over time as I discover new music, but if it try to look at my favorite throughout my life, I always go back to blink-182.
Your songs are very minimal, if you will. I’ve also noticed this “minimal” trend become more popular in Top 40 radio, as opposed to an overdone, kitsch pop sound. Why do you think that is?
I never really thought about it as a trend. I’m just doing my music in a very instinctive way. Often when I do a song, I just do it in one day, and after it’s done it’s hard for me to go back. If it’s super minimal, I prefer to keep it authentic than rework it and add layers and layers. I think that’s why my sounds end up being pretty minimal.
You’ve said in an interview that you always had the drive to “prove that as a girl, I can do as much as a boy can do.” Where does this come from?
As a child, I used to hang out only with boys. I had a couple of girl friends, but mostly boys. I used to play sports a lot with boys, and I remember sometimes boys wouldn’t want me to come and play with them because I was a girl. And for real, I was better than them. I know I was better than them. I was kicking ass. So that really frustrated me. But I always wanted to be strong. When I was a kid, I used to beat boys up for no reason. Then at some point, I realized I shouldn’t do that. So I guess that’s why I have this feeling of proving myself to be as strong as a guy.
Does that translate to your career now in any way?
I think it still drives me. I look up to guy musicians a lot, and yeah, I just want to prove to people that I’m doing as good or better than boys. I just want people to accept that.
So how do you balance modeling and music?
I still model a little bit. I’m signed with Folio Montreal, but now we’re trying to merge both things together. I just shot for Roots, but as RYAN Playground, not as Ryan the model. Modeling is very interesting. I get to meet a lot of people and very interesting contacts, as in music. But modeling is more like a cage. You can’t totally be yourself -- at least this is how I felt. That there were some physical restrictions. When you do a shoot and you have to act like the “doll,” that wasn’t me, but I was doing it. I was acting. But in music, I’m showing off myself.
What’s the ultimate goal for RYAN Playground?
I definitely want to build my live show for when my album is going to be released. The album is done, so I’m super excited for that. I want this album to really go big. That’s my goal. I want it to get me to tour around the world.
That’s a good goal. It seems like people are responding well to it.
I’m pretty confident, but I’m dreaming big.
Check out more from RYAN Playground here.