Interview: A Chat With Mating Ritual

Mating Ritual
Photo from Mating Ritual on Twitter

We had a chance to chat with Ryan Marshall Lawhon, the man behind Mating Ritual from Los Angeles, prior to the start of their How You Gonna Stop It? tour. The debut release is set for a two part release, one already out and the other due in April. The tour kicks off in San Francisco then stops in Portland on the 31st and the Central Saloon in Seattle February 1st.

NWMS: What role did music play in your early life?
Ryan: My mom is a very musical person, not so much in the performance aspect, but an appreciator of music. I was always raised listening to music, but I wouldn’t say that I was destined to become a musician. I started playing when I was in high school, it was something I was good at, and it was something that wasn’t forced. Mating Ritual came after Pacific Air, the band with my brother Taylor, went on hiatus. I continued making music on my own, but what’s exciting is that my brother is coming on tour with me.

NWMS: So, as of right now no plans for Pacific Air?
Ryan: There are no plans for that project, and it’s not that I’m waiting to see how Mating Ritual goes. I think Taylor and I are not that interested in pursuing that, it was something that we were both very excited for at the time, but we both went our separate ways musically. We still work together all the time and we continue writing for TV and film, but for our personal projects we have moved on different directions. We’re really happy with what we’re doing right now and if we decide we want to bring that together in the future maybe we will.

NWMS: Tell me more about the inspiration behind the project and debut record.
Ryan: Mating Ritual was something I wanted to take my time with, it was more deliberate, and I didn’t want to force or rush anything. Pacific Air was something that was actually very short lived even though we did a lot of things fast. Everything felt very rapid, the signing, the tour, the press, the process, I mean we recorded every song we ever wrote. With this one, I didn’t want to push or force anything, I wanted to let the songs dictate what they wanted to be, instead of me push what I thought they should be. I wanted to make the best music I could, that felt very honest at the moment. It took a while but I’m in a happy place, and happy with the two volumes of this record.

NWMS: I think it’s key as an artist to be able to take your time and create at your own pace.
Ryan: Exactly, and Taylor and I still do a lot of music for TV and firm, which is our day job, fairly fast. It was important for me to keep the things that work in our individual projects and not rush them. With my previous projects we decided to go with a major label, but when I was approached this time I decided to just try and do it completely alone. I didn’t want to have any of the pressures or politics of that and focus on creating.

NWMS: How come you’re releasing the songs in two six-track volumes?
Ryan: The idea was suggested by my manager since we have chosen to go DIY with everything and the logistics which follow behind that. I don’t like the idea of releasing singles so much as I feel that three minutes doesn’t allow time to understand the theme and idea that the artist is trying to convey. Releasing two six-song volumes allows me the opportunity to get through individually and as a whole. I get to make two records in a way that work perfectly with each other and it’s very exciting. All the writing and recording is done and we’re waiting for the second one to be mixed.

NMWS: What should fans expect from your first tour coming up?
Ryan: One thing I’ve really taken into consideration with this is that I really tried to make songs in the studio that are production heavy but I’ve kept a focus on how to strip them down for the live show. I feel that these songs deserve to be heard live first if possible, to take in this raw energy that we’re projecting as a four piece band. We’re playing smaller venues and the focus is creating an energetic show where the audience is feeding off the artist as much as the artist is feeding off the audience.

NWMS: I think that is vital for a live show, the connection between the artist and fans
Ryan: Live is very personal and it’s almost a transaction where you can see from both sides what the other person is thinking. I can see if a listener is enjoying or not, and they can see what I love singing and don’t love singing. It’s something you can’t replace.

NWMS: How did you choose the name?
Ryan: I was on my way back from Mammoth mountain and I was having a conversation about dating in the modern technological world. How it’s kind of about casual sex and how frequently people move from partner to partner and how that has tarnished my own view on the subject. It was bugging me a little bit and all of a sudden the name popped in my head, and I wasn’t even looking for a band name at the time. It worked out in the end. My feelings on the subject haven’t changed much three years later.

NWMS: What’s your most favorite part of touring?
Ryan: The shows are the obvious answer, I love performing live and the crowd interaction. Aside from that, I love eating in different cities and I enjoy finding places that showcase the local cuisine. I like finding the popular dish for every city, and I really enjoy that. I’ll even ask for recommendations online and people reply to us and sometimes we actually have them join us for dinner.

NWMS: What’s the most challenging part of being on tour?
Ryan: We are doing this tour in a van and sometimes it’s difficult to be around so many people in such small quarters. It doesn’t matter how close you are to each other, it’s difficult to see eye to eye sometime and come to compromise with just about anything. It’s almost like you’re in a relationship with four different people in a small area for a month.

NWMS: Are you able to write while you’re on the road?
Ryan: I have written a few times for the day job and enjoy doing remixes, but I’ve never really tried creatively writing so I can’t say.

NWMS: Are you still actively writing for the industry, how does that work?
Ryan: I have a couple of publishers who work on many different shows and they pitch me different projects a week and I just pick what works best for me. I haven’t focused on that for a few months as I’m trying to put all my energy in Mating Ritual and finishing that. I’m making the band my priority as I love being an artist.

NWMS: What are your hobbies or passion outside of music?
Ryan: I really like basketball and I try to go out and eat good food once a week. The thing I’ve loved for the longest time is basketball probably. I was tall as a kid and people assumed that basketball was going to be my future. I try to go to as many Lakers games as possible as I still really enjoy it.

Make sure you get to either the Portland show on the 31st or the Central Saloon in Seattle on February 1st.

(You can get more info about Mating Ritual at Facebook HERE on on Twitter HERE.)

Sophia Barkalakis

Music is probably the most important part of her life. Sophia is constantly searching for new material, old and new. Always looking forward to the next live show she can attend, ready to immerse herself in the sound. "There is something so magical about attending a live show that you cannot possibly feel from a recording itself that makes it worth going to", she says. She also says she's lucky to be able to combine her passion for music with her obsession of capturing moments. She finds that being able to look at a photograph and be transported to that second of your life is indescribable and she's so grateful for all those great moments.