Ethereal, otherworldly and at times unsettling
Indie, dream-pop artist Ryan Wright creates songs that don’t make sense on paper—ethereal, otherworldly and at times unsettling, underscoring how surreal and disconnected from reality the experience of transitioning into adulthood can be.
Born in the suburbs of Northern Virginia in 2002, she began writing songs and performing live alongside her singer/songwriter dad at the age of 11. By the time she was a teenager, she was working in the studio and on stage alongside some of her biggest musical influences.
Wright’s surreal and intense debut EP, A Dream I’ll Forget, is the half-forgotten soundtrack of memory: the music blasting through the gritty speaker of your ex’s beat-up car, windows rolled down, flying fast down a familiar highway. The motif of teenage intensity serves as the EP’s consistent through-line—the internal monologue of a person experiencing the highs and lows of “firsts” that resonates among listeners. Recurring images of cars, parties, and cell phones serve as a reminder that ground the listener squarely in the world of teenage carnality but are juxtaposed with references to the sky, dreams, and music, pointing to something more ephemeral -and more eternal.
Lyrically, Wright hints at traumas that are both intimate and individual, but the sentiments are open to interpretation and can be applied universally. There’s a dark humour that undercuts that intensity—a winking acknowledgement of how trivial the vicissitudes of the teenage experience truly are despite how dire they may feel in the moment. A Dream I’ll Forget is the musical embodiment of the teenage experience in all its confusing, messy, exhilarating glory.
Focus track “T-shirt” is a near-universal experience: in the wake of a devastating breakup, when everything else is crumbling to nothing, there remains a physical element, a tangible piece of evidence left behind that provides nostalgia, and security, and regret all at once. The item in question is a ratty old band tee that still smells like an ex–a mundane item that takes on the profound significance of a life raft in a sea of heartbreak.
Trading in her signature synths for a beat-up Hofner bass, the production is built around a bassline that, as Wright puts it, “sounded like how I was feeling.” The track builds subtly, layering on sounds until the bridge explodes into a cacophony that reflects the chaos of emotion represented in the lyrics. “T-shirt” is the song you’ll play on repeat every time you experience a new heartbreak…or just want to relive an old one.