After finally let 2020 behind, we all can agree on 1 thing: last year was for everyone involved in the music industry a challenging year. For our Q&A series “Look back & forward” we interviewed the artists that inspired us last year, about how they experienced 2020 and what their hopes are for 2021. For indie artist Ryan Gross was 2020 a year to discover the inspiration inwards. His DIY project “Skinny Dippers’, bred in a Bushwick bedroom and brought to life by a rotating cast of talented collaborators, came to fruition during isolation. For Skinny Dippers 2021 will be a year with new challenges, opportunities & releases.
For most of the musicians 2020 was a difficult year, but to start at the bright side: What was the most positive thing about 2020 for you or your music?
Although 2020 has been the strangest year most of us will experience in our lifetimes, it has also been an exciting year for me because quarantine inspired me to look inward in order to write, record and release my debut Skinny Dippers track “Panties”.
Right now many musicians are releasing music that is created in quarantaine. Did you develop, experiment or just take a step back during quarantine?
The challenges of quarantine actually forced me to work in isolation as a solo artist for the first time, which I found really invigorating. I really enjoyed starting with a basic skeleton of a song and then producing it in isolation in order to fully explore the instrumentation of the song instead of working through it as a group as I have done while playing in other bands in the past.
Did the isolation change your sound and/or your method of songwriting and recording?
Working in isolation allowed me to develop my own sound in a more sincere way since I was able to see the original vision through from start to end. I spent a lot of time really diving into synthesizer sounds, discussing exactly what guitar tones should sound like, and listening to how the different sounds would fit together in the mix with my friend Harper James who produced the song with me entirely remotely.
Most people have music that becomes the soundtrack for that period of their life. Which music did you listen to during 2020? Did you discover new genres/musicians that inspired you?
Many of my favorite artists put out albums this year including Phoebe Bridgers and STRFKR, and I think their 2020 releases are probably my favorite yet. I also discovered some new artists I’ve been digging including Kowloon, Mouth Breather, and Gregor who have been releasing some great tracks.
What was the most important lesson 2020 learned you?
While I’ll always be the biggest champion of my friends, it’s important to also make time for yourself.
What are your wishes for 2021?
That we can collectively head into 2021 with a new appreciation for some of the things that would have seemed mundane prior to 2020. I’m also hoping that live music scenes everywhere come back with a vengeance as we all seek out human re-connection and as venues begin to recover from a devastating year for small businesses.
What are your expectations for 2021?
I think 2021 is going to be a party….(once we get a vaccine of course). Everyone is going to be so thrilled to spend time with their loved ones once it’s safe to do so, and i’m really looking forward to hugging my friends.
What can we, the music fans, expect from you in 2021?
My debut EP/LP! I’m just getting started and am really excited to be cooking up some hot new tracks to share next year.