Q&A: Ryn Weaver talks about Internet fame and letting her roots show
When Ryn Weaver posted “OctaHate” on SoundCloud in late June she was a virtual unknown, but she had some important friends, including Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos and songwriter/producer Benny Blanco, who’s had a hand in a number of huge songs including “Moves Like Jagger” and “California Gurls.” After another friend, Jessie Ware, plugged the track on Twitter, it became a literal overnight sensation, racking up plays by the hundreds of thousands as it spread beyond Ware’s fan base and exploded all over the Internet.
Last Friday she released her debut EP, Promises, and its lead single is already beginning to repeat the success of “OctaHate.” In the lead-up to its release, Weaver spoke to EW on the phone about what it’s like to become a viral Internet pop star.
EW: I’d like to talk about “OctaHate” and how quickly it’s blown up.
RYN WEAVER: It has!
The song seems to have an interesting history. Could you tell me about that?
It definitely does. Basically, Benny Blanco started working on my project with me, and he played my SoundCloud for Michael from Passion Pit, and then he wanted to get involved as well. So the project now consists of me, Benny, and Michael. And [Cashmere Cat] did some additional production as well because he’s awesome and wanted to be involved. We just all got together and this song was created.
And then it went crazy viral. What’s that been like?
That was crazy. I wanted to just put it on the Internet for a while and see how it would do. We were just going to let it sit on the Internet and then maybe after a couple of months it might get picked up. But I have a couple of friends like Jessie Ware, who during the time that I was working on this project was also working on a project with Benny Blanco, and she was when I was having meltdowns because I was so nervous about putting out my music and what people would think, so she was really excited to help and tweeted it, and then people started retweeting and then it kind of turned into this huge thing. I remember I had another SoundCloud that I had up, and I told Benny the day before I put out this music that I didn’t want to delete that SoundCloud because it had like 8 thousand plays on my songs, and like a hundred fans and I didn’t want to lose them. And by the next morning we had like a hundred thousand [plays on “OctaHate”]. It was pretty insane. I threw up.
I was sitting and refreshing [the page] all day and I was getting more comments, and [Paramore lead singer] Hayley Williams said something. And I was like, “This is not real!” And I got a little sick.
Speaking of the older SoundCloud stuff, it seems like you’ve made attempts in the past to get your career rolling, and I think it’s really cool that that stuff’s still out there.
Why delete it, you know? That’s how I got in the position that I’m in. I met Benny a couple years back and I showed him my SoundCloud and he liked my songwriting and he liked my ideas. My production was a little shaky because I did it all by myself, but he was like, “I feel this and I see the sound you’re trying to have, and I want to work on that.” Deleting that is almost like deleting part of the history of how things happened.
You mentioned producing for yourself. Are you self-taught?
Yeah. I’ve been producing for about a year and a half now. I started using Ableton, which is a production program. I just started teaching myself, because I don’t play any instruments particularly well, but it’s really cool because you can keep playing until you get it right. For my generation, we have so many more tools to get our ideas out, it’s crazy.
It seems to me that there’s a common perception that women artists working in a pop setting, there’s an assumption that behind the scenes there’s a guy making all the music.
I think that’s changing. I worked with Charli [XCX], and we’re actually working right now on another really awesome project, and it’s so cool being in the room not just with other artists who can write, but with women who are killing the game. People like that think that if you’re in pop music and you’ve got a pretty face you must be a puppet. But I don’t even consider myself a pop star. I consider myself a songwriter before a pop artist. I care to write hits, but I care more to write really dope albums.