Following on from last weeks ‘Why I Cycle’ by Greg Ryan we bring to you as promised, a Q&A with the man himself on his creative life. Showcasing, his photography, music and inner creative machinations.
It was last year when Greg was doing a >>remix of >>’worms in the nest‘ for me, that It became abundantly obvious that this dude was not just a one trick pony and if ever there was a Grand Tour for creativity, then Greg would be a bona-fide GC contender.
This mans creative toolbox spilleth over to say the least; an Author, a Photographer, a Songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist and not to forget, an occasional cyclist. Yip dude’s managed to fashion 25 hours into a day(none of them sleeping)
As a visitor to our page you are already familiar with Greg’s photography. He’s the guy behind the lens that you don’t see in all the website shots.
Some of The Acoustic Cafe session pictures Greg created for us below.
So without further ado, here is our Q & A with Greg. Questions posed By Daz. Enjoy
BCR: You suffer a mechanical on the bike and it’s beyond repair. A cycling genie comes down and offers you; One album, One book and One alcoholic beverage to occupy your time until the broom wagon arrives . What would they be?
Album: I am currently listening to an album called >>Phase by the band Mildlife. It’s a kind of proggy space jazz type of thing, I’m not really selling it very well but its like a more trippy version of Tame Impala without choruses. I heard the song I’m Blau on 6 music a few weeks ago when I was driving the kids to soft play and it hooked me. The album only came out about two weeks ago and is on spotify so I would encourage you all to tune in and space out. I have also had the new Jon Hopkins single >>Emerald Rush, George FitzGerald’s album >>All That Must Be and the new single from Rival Consoles called Untravel on heavy rotation
Book: I am currently re-reading >>The Road by Cormac McCarthy, it’s one of my favourites and I like to go back to it every now and again. It’s pretty bleak, in fact it’s very bleak.
McCarthy writes in a way where he doesn’t have to go into much detail for you to be able to paint a picture of how his worlds look. It’s set against a post apocalyptic background where a father and his son are making their way to the shore on the road from the title. What has happened to the world is never explained and doesn’t have to be. The book focuses more on the relationship of the pair and what they have to overcome to survive. McCarthy can be difficult to read at times as he is very sparing with punctuation and it can get easy to get lost in who is speaking. Well worth the effort though. I also just finished Cold Hands by John Niven which was really good but a bit of a departure from his usual work.
Beverage: It’s got to be >>wild turkey. I love it.
I only started drinking it because Hunter S. Thompson wrote about it and one night I found it in a bar in Glasgow and decided to try it.
BCR: So you make music, write novels and take great photos, but what is the biggest iron stoking your creative fire at the moment?
GR: For being one of the laziest people I know, I have quite a few things I am juggling just now. I wish I could put as much effort into my real job as I do with all my projects at home. I have just finished writing a 6 episode podcast that my friend and I are in the middle of recording, it’s proving to be difficult as I work shifts and he works offshore. Its meant to be funny but I don’t know if anyone who hears it will think that. Its called “meet the ordinary person” and it is an interview with 6 different people who do ordinary jobs though have slightly skewed views on the world. It was fun to write and we are enjoying recording it so that’s the main thing.
Off the back of writing the podcast I have also got back into properly writing again too. I am currently 20,000 words into my second novel. I have written one before but never went back to do a second draft as I told myself it was awful and went off to write short stories. I have decided though that once I finish the first draft of my new book I will then go back and redraft my first one. It seems a shame to put all that effort in and not do anything with it. It’s a nice thing to be able to say I wrote a book. Not a nice thing for anyone who reads it though.
Lastly I am also working on an album. Music is the one staple thing that I have always done, no matter what else I have been involved in I always make time for playing music. I have changed in the music I write though, I hardly pick up the guitar anymore and pretty much have moved into recording electronic music. I prefer this though as I like composing the whole track, being in complete control of everything that goes into it and how the whole thing sounds and feels. As much as I loved playing in bands I really struggle with the democratic approach to song writing. If I want a 10 minute modular synth solo I now don’t have to try and win anyone over, I can just go full on emerson, Lake and palmer with impunity.
Check out Gregs music
BCR: We all draw inspiration from different people or things, what or who inspires you?
GR: This is a really tough question. I am inspired by a lot of people and a lot of things but I can’t really put my finger on what or who. There are plenty of musicians and writers that I really admire. I find that certain parts of songs raise the hairs on my arms, or the colours and textures in a piece of art make me look a little harder and feel a certain way. I love creative people and I love to hear how people approach their work and how maybe a process that they use could help me in what I am trying to do. I don’t know. I find inspiration in the strangest of places. I’m quite lucky in the fact that I seem to always have the drive to try something new so I never stagnate doing the same thing over and over. I just wish I could maybe spend a little bit more time and get really good at one thing rather than going from project to project all the time.
BCR: Since you have the photographers eye, aye, is there any cycling photographers who’s work we should be checking out?
GR: Not any dedicated cycling photographers per se but photographers from the magnum photo agency. Magnum released a >>photo book last year and it was by all of the magnum photographers that had covered the tour over the years.
It was a really insightful look into it as it wasn’t traditionally the types of images you would see of the tour de France. I like the photographers from this agency as they have a different view of the world and tend to show the things that people miss. Cyclist magazine also has some superb photography in it. I like to flick through that now and again.
BCR: We’ve been having a look at some of your photography portfolio and there is a few stand out photos. What is your favourite?
This is probably an obvious answer but there was a photo I took of my son lying in the bath. He had his head half-submerged and all you can see is his face surrounded with white bubbles. It ended up being chosen for a portrait exhibition in a gallery in Shoreditch in London so I got to go down and see it on display. I felt like a proper artist for a day which was nice.
BCR:what do you look for in your photos?
GR: I like my photos to be a bit off the cuff. I am not the greatest with staged shots and much prefer to catch my subjects in a natural state. Its much more interesting. The images have to be able to tell their own story as i’m not into stuff that is too abstract, I like to be able to look at a photo and to be able to work out whats going on. Even if its my own made up story. Having said that I would love to get the chance to shoot portraiture and to do some portraits of musicians and other people I admire. Cyclists from the Braes area for example…
BCR: Here is a slide show selection of Greg’s Photographs from his portfolio.
if you like his work, get in touch. >>To see full portfolio
BCR: Your songs traverse genre, but do you have a favourite song you have written?
My favourite song that I have written? I am not normally one for saying I like my own songs. I am hyper critical of all my own work and don’t really like listening back to things once I have finished them. My vocals make me cringe and I always spot mistakes and things that I would like to have done better. Having said that though there was a song that my friend Dave, who is one of the only people I feel very comfortable collaborating with as we are on the same page about things, and I wrote called “Goodbye Mr Honey”. Everyone who has heard it seems to like it and it eventually led to possibly the highlight of my life, being approached by A&R for Parlophone EMI. I am not sure how they heard it but we were asked to submit a demo of other songs and some information about us. We did both and never heard anything back from them ever again. We were in no way marketable. It was a nice feeling though to know that at least one of our songs had been heard and someone thought that we had potential. Especially that label as they signed both The Beatles and Radiohead so it would have been my dream to be signed with them!
BCR: What two historical figures living or dead would you most like to go on a Sunday coffee ride with?
GR: I have no idea. That’s really bad isn’t it? Maybe Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead. I would really like to pick his brains about how he approaches his music and Elliot Erwitt who is my favourite photographer, he has such a huge amount of humour in his photographs. I would love to hear his take on the state of the world.
Huge thanks to Greg for taking the time to write an article, do a photoshot, but most importantly, letting us tap into his inner world.
Follow or find Gregs creations at the following