Ryan David Orr was born in Ashland, Oregon to a singer-songwriter mother and a visual artist father. Some of his earliest memories are of his mother singing him songs each night as bedtime stories. His childhood, which took place between Oregon and California, and later Tennessee and North Carolina, were surrounded by art, music, writing, and the adventures of rural living. At the age of 7, he began playing violin and singing in choirs, subsequently being recruited for several performance opportunities including a long run of the opera Tosca and the Northwest Children’s Honor Choir. His love of music and performance blossomed with the later move to the American south. His mother, a country and folk songwriter, hoped that proximity to Nashville would be beneficial to her musical career. She recorded several albums, giving Ryan his first taste of being “in the studio”.
For Ryan, there are too many influences and inspirations to list all of them in one place, but his background in the performing and visual arts began to take form during his high school years, when he put down the violin and picked up guitar. He immersed himself in a plethora of musical styles and genres. He spun old classic rock vinyls he found in record store bargain bins. He kept a constant flow of music going for most of his waking hours, devouring everything from Neil Young to Radiohead, Mos Def to Deftones, Beethoven to RL Burnside. He was greatly influenced by the Seattle grunge sound, modeling much of his first song writing attempts after bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana. Most of what he wrote at first wasn’t very good, but over time he began to shape and define his own voice. He continued absorbing artists like Tori Amos, Tom Waits, Whiskeytown, Thelonious Monk, Richard Buckner, Bjork, Massive Attack, Cat Stevens, and CSNY. By the time he was 16, he had managed to hone his craft to the point that writing was an everyday thing, and a legitimate body of work began to manifest.
Through the years, he joined and fronted several bands, and began increasing the regularity of performance. Shortly after high school, he moved from North Carolina back to Oregon, where he began taking acting classes and performance at a college in Eugene. After a series of recording sessions, he threw together an EP and began to promote his original works. Once he acquired his own digital audio workstation, he began to write, record, and produce music constantly, booking shows in bars and coffee shops on a regular basis. Since that time, he has either engineered, produced, or both, 10 full-length studio albums, 2 solo EPs, 3 band EPs for various side projects, and a vast array of singles and experimental music. He has also produced songs or albums for a bunch of other artists and finds real joy in the recording and production process. He continues to write, record, and produce music in his Arizona-based studio, and tours to promote his works across the US and abroad.
Best Folk Album International – Toronto Exclusive Magazine (2007)
Finalist – Song of the Year songwriting competition
Runner-up – Song of the Year songwriting competition
Best Music Video – Show Low Film Festival (2018)
"Great, distinctive voice...worthy of top marks"
-Stuart Epps, producer (Oasis, Elton John, Led Zeppelin)
"Ryan David Orr is a lyricist of the highest order"
-ComeHereFloyd music blog
"Intimate vocals, hypnotic song structures, lush instrumentation and some modern production make his music stand out from other songwriters"
Other Projects and Interests
In addition to his main body of musical work, Ryan often records and produces works in hard rock, electronica, and ambient genres. One side project, The Brighter Still, has been a home for songs he writes that have a harder edge and a bigger sound. The other musicians for this project are a rotating cast of characters, and new music is released periodically. Ryan also has a side project called Chipmunk Connector, an electro-pop project named after a trail near his home. From time to time, he engineers and produces albums for other artists, and loves the process of capturing great studio performances. Here are a few examples of songs he has engineered/produced...
Another artistic love of Ryan's is in the arena of film and photography. He holds a degree in Film and Media Studies from Arizona State University, and began putting his film knowledge to use in 2013 when he wrote, directed, and filmed a music video for the song "Margaret" from his album More Than Strangers. Since then, he has written, directed, and/or filmed several more music videos to accompany songs from his various albums. Here are some examples...
Ryan also holds a Master of Arts in English from ASU and is a lover of literature and poetry. He writes constantly, whether it is a song, a short story, poems, fiction, or just pages and pages of scribbling journals. He teaches English at the college level, and values greatly the world of higher education.
Growing up in rural settings instilled in Ryan an appreciation for the natural world and the symbiotic balance that keeps life thriving. He grew up around farming and gardening, tended livestock, raised chickens, ducks, and guinea hens, horses, cows, goats, and spent much of his young life outside hiking and camping. A portion of proceeds from Ryan’s Patreon page donations go to a couple of charities whose work helps preserve the natural world and protect wildlife and ecosystems. He and his wife grow a garden every year, with somewhat questionable results due to a short growing season and painfully alkaline soil where they are located.
His own spiritual and emotional growth has been a major focus in his life, as well. Many experiences in non-denominational churches and spiritual fellowship groups pushed him along this path and urged him to seek his own evolution. He practices meditation and various forms of yoga and prayer regularly and believes strongly in personal accountability. This focus has had a great deal of impact on his music and art, and many of his themes involve facing one’s demons and ripping away the layers of ego and fear to emerge more complete.
When he is not engaged in some form of artistic expression, Ryan spends a lot of time in nature, traveling, reading, watching films, cooking, gardening, and going on trips with his wife. If you have any specific questions, or wish to inquire about production or recording services, use the contact page to send a message. For further info and updates, subscribe to the newsletter.