Ryan Bulbeck, the lead guitarist and co-songwriter for The 295, is showing off his musical palette. His solo outing Who Were You Expecting? has a bit of everything from rock to electronic, but never feels disjointed. We sat down with Ryan Bulbeck (RB) to talk about his new album, music and much more!
OSR: Why did you decide to enter the music industry?
RB: I don’t know if I decided to; I more fell into it before I really knew what it was. It started with learning to play the guitar in school and escalated to moving to London to pursue music as a career. It got to a point where I realised I’d invested too much in the industry to quit. I don’t really like saying I’m ‘in the music industry’ because there’s a lot of negative connotations associated with it as an entity, but I guess if you make or are a part of music in any form then you’re automatically involved.
OSR: What can you tell us about ‘Who Were You Expecting’?
RB: For me it’s quite a drastic stylistic shift, but one that, if you knew my music taste, wouldn’t surprise you. There are elements of many genres in there; it’s essentially the combination of years of songwriting all coming together. There’s something for everyone I guess!
OSR: Your LP shows a variety of genres in a single record. For instance, ‘Black Hole Stare’ is more folk than electronic ‘26/03/20’. Why did you decide to vary the styles instead of sticking to a single sound?
RB: I never set out for the tracks to vary so much, but because they’ve all been written at various times over the years it was just inevitable that they would be. It’s just how they came out. Also, at one point or another, a lot of the songs were going to be parts of other projects. In the end, I felt that they should be together.
OSR: Is there a constant theme to the tracks?
RB: There is now I’ve listened back to the album. It was never the intention, but the album is about life. It almost seems to be about a particular person’s life, like the songs follow a protagonist of sorts along their journey.
It starts with their ‘eulogy’, and with them wanting to ‘escape this city’ as they wake up to the world around them. It ends with them learning to appreciate what’s around them and discovering what growing up means to them. So, in short, I guess it’s about life, but I also think there’s a more personal concept in there too.
OSR: What is your favourite track and why?
RB: At the moment it’s ‘QT/DL’, mainly because it’s quite a nice beat to walk to, but I’ll always have a soft spot for ‘Nineteen’ and ‘This Is Growing Up’ too.
OSR: Which was your favourite track to record and why?
RB: Probably ‘Before Everything Dies’. At the time I had no idea what style I was and I think sitting there and coming out with this song in one evening made me realise that I didn’t need to have a style. It was also super easy to get all the parts to sound like what I’d imagined they’d be and things like that can really make or break how I feel about a song.
OSR: How did you feel on the release date? Excited, scared, maybe anxious?
RB: I was a little anxious, but I was more relieved than anything that it was finally out. The songs had been floating around for ages, so to finally have them out in the world was such a weight off my mind and soul.
OSR: Do you sing in the shower?
RB: Of course, gotta practise for the karaoke once lockdown is a distant memory! Also, bathrooms have great acoustics, so it’s great for warming up your voice.
OSR: What is your creative process?
RB: Usually, it starts with me finding something on guitar or me being sat at my computer messing around with synths and other sounds, and then working out a melody with possible lyrics and syllable structures. After that, I usually record it on my phone and leave it for a while. If I’m humming the melody or playing the chords in the same way a few days later, I know I’m on to something.
OSR: Where do you hope to be in five years?
RB: I don’t even know where I want to be next month, let alone in five years! Obviously, I hope I’ll still be doing music and that my band The 295 will be doing well, but besides that, I just hope that we’re all in a better place as a society and a planet in general.
OSR: What do you do when you’re not creating music?
RB: I write fiction. I’ve self-published a novella and am currently working on new stories. I work in other areas of music too, mainly in production and as an independent promoter with my label Baybee Records.
OSR: Do you have any message for our readers?
RB: Remember to love each other and stay safe. We’re living in crazy times, but you’ll always have music to fall back on either to comfort or to motivate.