When I found out that Ryan O'Neal from Sleeping at Last would be playing at Hotel Cafe (11/21/11), my favorite venue in Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to see him. I had the pleasure of getting to chat with him about his song on the 'Breaking Dawn part 1' soundtrack, why he's a member of Team Edward and his year long project 'Yearbook'. Check out what he had to say below.
So you've seen the movie. How did you feel about your song's placement in the film?
Ryan: I was totally, totally blown away. With all film projects, especially something as secretive and big as Twilight they're very careful with what they tell you in terms of what scene it will be in. Things change so frequently and they told me it might be in or around the wedding scene and it might be in the first love scene during the honeymoon. So when I saw it for the first time at the premiere it was insanely special. With TV and film placements you never know if your song will play for 7 seconds or if it's going to be playing in the background from far away. There are placements that are like that and it's still a huge honor but to be placed in a scene so special and that has no dialogue over it is such a dream come true for me.
How did you feel about the audience's reaction?
Ryan: Oh my gosh, it couldn't have been more amazing. I mean, the group of people at the premiere was so intense and passionate about Twilight so it couldn't have been a better audience to see it with for the first time.
Since you didn't see the film prior to writing the song, did you know what you wanted to write the song about?
Ryan: I watched all 3 of the previous films back-to-back and I knew from friends who had read the story where the relationships were going and obviously I knew a wedding was going to happen so I wrote the song from Edward's perspective. I tried to imagine what that might sound like; those relationships maturing and developing. I really liked Edward's character. I was totally Team Edward from the first film on.
I was totally going to ask you that.
Ryan: I have nothing against Jacob. He's great too, but Team Edward is so much cooler. No offense.
Did you draw from any personal experiences when writing Turning Page?
Ryan: I totally did. That's one thing I'm kind of sticking to my guns about. I don't ever want to write anything that doesn't mean something to me. And I definitely write from my experiences and personal relationships in order to capture what I would imagine Edward is thinking. I didn't really have a direction until I started playing the piano and the first chords of that song kind of stumbled out and I realized that it had what I was looking for. It felt romantic but it had a little darkness to it and I felt like I needed both those things.
So you haven't read the books?
Ryan: I haven't read the books. But I shouldn't say that. I should say I love all the books.
Do you have a favorite movie now that you've seen all 4?
Ryan: Clearly, Breaking Dawn. Breaking Dawn part 1 is the clear winner in my book. *laughs* I really loved Eclipse. I thought that was a great movie. It was fun and lots of action. But I thought Breaking Dawn was incredible. I had expectations from the previous films and they switched directors for each one. I had high hopes and it was great.
So now that Breaking Dawn has released have you seen an increase in interest on your other work or traffic on your Facebook and twitter?
Ryan: Totally and it's incredible because I think more than any other film placement or TV show or that stuff, Twilight fans have such a welcoming and passionate spirit about new music. And I think Alexandra Patsavas, the music supervisor, has done such a good job at making music this really important backbone to the story. So even when the track list was announced I noticed so many great responses. So many sweet people have noticed my other music. It's a dream come true for a musician.
Alexandra Patsavas is becoming known for taking bands and musicians and thrusting them into the limelight with The Twilight Saga soundtracks and basically providing a ready made fanbase. How has that been for you personally?
Ryan: It's the best thing in the world. It really is. It's amazing. I think music, especially now-a-days, so many people are making music and the technology is such that anybody with a guitar and computer can make music that is distributed throughout the whole world instantaneously which is a bizarre and really incredible thing. But that also means it's really hard to find a new audience. But what Alex (Patsavas) does is curates this collection of songs that is just really special with the story so to be a part of that is insanely incredible. It's a privilege.
How is it working with Alex?
Ryan: She's the best. She's the absolute best. I've known her for several years because she placed a song of mine in Grey's Anatomy and she placed a couple of my songs in Private Practice . So when I thought I'd love to write something for Twilight I wrote her asking if I could try and she basically told me "good luck!" *laughs* She's very sweet but I think the number of submissions she receives for that is kind of ridiculous so everyone kind of knew it was a shot in the dark but she's just been the best and so supportive of me and my music.
You're no stranger to having your music used commercially but Breaking Dawn part 1 was your first film. How's this experience been different for you?
Ryan: As a musician you kind of create all these little milestones, like a bucket list of things you want to do. I've always been a huge fan of films and film music specifically so it was a big dream of mine to have a song or score piece in a film and with Breaking Dawn it was incredible because they used my instrumental and then they also used the song which is kind of a double dream come true. So this was my first film experience but I feel like it's going to be a tough one to top.
With the commercialization do you ever feel tempted to stray from your style or your sound?
Ryan: I used to be signed with a major label 6 or 7 years ago and part of what I established even very young was that it's not worth making music that you're not excited about. It's really not. And I know that you can just think of it as a job so you're going to make music so you can make a living but I've always just stuck to my guns on writing what I want to write and what I feel like writing. Part of what's so amazing about Twilight and Alex (Patsavas) is that they nurture that entirely. Alex isn't looking for bands to change their sound she's looking for bands that make sense with what she's doing at the time so it's been an encouraging environment.
I wanted to ask about your project Yearbook where you release a 3 song EP every month. What made you decide to take on such a big project?
Ryan: The last decade or so I've been a very slow song writer. I'd write maybe 4 or 5 songs a year so my full length records would only come out every 3 years. That's pretty slow for most bands. So I asked myself what is the one thing about being a musician I love the most and that was definitely song writing so the idea for Yearbook kind of came from that. I just thought it would be really great to dedicate a whole year to just the creative process and the craft of writing and see what I could do with that. And 3 songs felt like a substantial amount for listeners and also doable on my end too. It was just an incredible privilege to be able to write for a whole year. A very special experience.
Did you learn a lot about yourself as a writer during that time?
Ryan: I totally did. I'm a much faster writer now. And deadlines, I have a love hate relationship with deadlines. They make stuff happen but I'm easily stressed out so Yearbook was a very long, challenging process for me but it taught me a lot about lyrics, it taught me a lot about song structure, it taught me a lot about instrumentation and different production ideas. So it was kind of this idea that if Yearbook fails completely I'll still be a better song writer for it.