SMOOTH JAWS by Mating Ritual

After starting two different bands signed to major labels, seeing how they (labels) operate frustrated me and inspired me to find a new way of thinking with Mating Ritual. This isn’t an indictment of major labels as they have done as much good for musicians as they have detriment, but a realization that their formula doesn’t align with my goals as an artist. Music is real to me, and the moment you bring someone else on board you are banking that they have similar values/tastes as you, and aren’t relying on some arbitrary analytic to inform this. I’m far from the only person with this opinion, so along with some like minded friends, I’ve decided to create my own musical family and release a record on a label where we call the shots, where we can make things up on the go and can fully execute our artistic vision in every way. This is music made by friends, for our friends.

With that said, I’m extremely proud to announce that Mating Ritual’s full debut album, “How You Gonna Stop It?”, will be released via my own label Smooth Jaws on May 19, 2017. 

“How You Gonna Stop It” is about transition. The transition from child to adult. From dependent to independent. From unemployed to employed. From committed to single. The more I’ve grown as a person the less I definitively know about who I’m supposed to be, and where I’m supposed to go. I’m finding myself repeating the mistakes of my parents despite my fervent intention not to. This album was recorded over nearly three years, and when I looked back at the first song written for it (chronologically), I realized I’m asking an almost identical question as the song I wrote three weeks ago: Why am I constantly blowing up my life and starting over instead of facing my problems head on. I’m no better off than I was 3, 5, 7 years ago. I don’t think I’ve really figured out how to break the cycle with these songs, but I have found comfort in knowing that even if I never come out the other side, I’ll be alright.

 

You can preorder and stream all Vol. 1 tracks now (plus remastered versions of I Wear Glasses and Cold) HERE 

((Vinyl Preorder coming next week!))

Thanks for listening. It’s all happening. 

Ryan

Everybody Wins by Mating Ritual

Before I continue, let me first say that I am aware it isn't sexy when artists talk about the business/money side of the art world, but it is absolutely something every artist thinks about and will shape at least a percentage of the career decisions they make. Everyone's gotta eat.

That said, I'd like to touch base on the ever changing conversation of music consumption. I'm sure you've seen many a think piece about how great/terrible streaming culture is and the way it's forced us to consume music. I'm not here to talk about the philosophical importance of one format vs the other, authenticity, or the repercussions of what the freemium model is doing to songwriting. I'm just going to focus on what all of these seeming pejoratives mean to me and how they inform my decisions in Mating Ritual.

I was born in the late 80's and by the time music was something I was cognizant of, CD's were essentially the only relevant form of purchasable music. Like the majority of people, the primary tastemakers in my early life were my parents, more specifically my mom. We relocated very often, so most of my listening sessions came in the backseat (with no access to the skip button) of whatever green minivan was en vogue that year. Highway 1's immense beauty and interstate 5's long stretches of golden farmland shaped my visual association with music. They also trained me to consume music as a longform sonic story. It's difficult for me to form an opinion on an artist in 3 minutes.

Regardless of my inability to connect with music without context, playlist and streaming culture has all but abolished this way of consuming music, and I get it. There are too many artists and albums available at our fingertips to give 40 minutes to every one that pops up on our twitter feeds each week. I'm definitely guilty of skipping through playlists en masse after 30 seconds, let alone giving each track a chance.

Until this point, I've only released singles and one short EP, which feels a bit disingenuous to me, no matter how much sense it makes in a singles driven world (more singles = more playlist spots = more new ears). I love the story a 12 track collection takes you through, regardless of lyrical content. I love hearing artists with dynamic songwriting and connecting the dots between sonic themes. I love watching the artists journey from the Track 1 single to the Track 6 ballad. This has greatly influenced my writing, every one of my songs is informed by the prior and not with the intent of individual listening.

But as a completely independent artist, the financial aspect of creating a 12-15 song LP does not make sense. It costs considerably more to record that many songs correctly and the majority of the tracks bring in virtually no income, while (if you're lucky) 1 or 2 singles bring in the lions share of your meal ticket. Like I said at the top, I know talking about financial decisions informing creative ones isn't sexy, but it's a truth that every artist must deal with. If money was no object, you'd have 3 Mating Ritual LP's released in 2016.

As a way to appease my creative longings and adapt to the musical world we live in, I'm happy to say I've come to a compromise: I will be releasing my debut LP, How You Gonna Stop It? in 2 volumes over the next 6 months. Both volumes will provide a dynamic story and sonic context when absorbed individually and when listened to as a whole. 

Volume 1 drops January 24th and takes a look at the shitstorm that 2016 has been through a wide angle lense. While not overtly political, much of this volume I’m grappling with the significance of the small worlds we create for ourselves in the grand scheme of the universe. When does self love become narcissism? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Does it matter?

Volume 2 drops April 2017, along with the complete vinyl, alternate versions and a few other little surprises. I’ve spent the better of the last 2 years writing and perfecting these songs, so releasing them in a way that allows you to fully see my vision for them (and this band) gives me more satisfaction that I ever thought it would.

Thank you for making it through my ramblings and taking this journey with me. I love you all and I cannot wait for 2017.

I WEAR GLASSES by Mating Ritual

Releasing music is a weird thing to do. What should be a cathartic experience can quickly turn into severe anxiety and a hatred of the art you just poured days/weeks/months of your life into. For me, only a small portion of the time does this have anything to do with how it's critically received. I commonly find myself writing songs about how I process a very specific emotion or event that I am experiencing at the moment in a sort of stream-of-conscious self loathing party (usually after 2 bottles of wine). I then spend the next few days meticulously editing my thoughts via smarter words, better metaphors, etc, but as any standardized test taker can attest to, my raw, gut feelings usually win out and any edits go out with the bath water.

While that's all well and good, the following process of producing/mixing/mastering (along with other inevitable life commitments) can take months. As I like to be overly involved in every step, my mind abruptly stops thinking about what the songs say, and entirely about drum tones, vocal effects, low pass filters, and thousands of other strictly technical aspects of the music itself. Only after the send button clicks do I usually reflect on the overarching meaning of the part of myself I just allowed everyone I know to be a participant in.

But like most avid drinkers, I rarely want to commit to something I said while I was bent. It's not that I dislike how I said something (though I often do), it's that I'm not in the same place as I was in that moment, which is almost always darker.

That is why I'm very proud to say that for once, I'm in the same place as the art I'm releasing. I've recently been allowing myself to reject the internal conflict that I have to be above other people/objects/concepts in my life. For the first time since I started trying to rationalize my purpose in life, I am happy (to my best understanding of the word). I no longer care if what I say has been said before or if my ideas are inherently original. It's quite liberating.

“I Wear Glasses” is the lubricated vision of a could-be hookup with a strong, confident woman. It’s the moment you finally make a move and all the wrong, clichéd lines come out; the moment you lose all fear of romantic pastiche and just let shit fly. 

-Ryan

Locomotion by Mating Ritual

I generally dislike music videos, and I know I'm in the minority. While there are exceptions to my scorn, music videos don't really make sense to me. It's like eating a food you aren't even sure you like yet while having a sinus infection, more often than not it just ruins the memory. 

That said, I'm very proud to share the first musical video accompaniment for Mating Ritual. It's the first video I've been associated with that I would consider myself 'proud' of. Seriously. It rules. And it was made by a bunch of friends fucking around. BOOM.

Watch it here

Vicissitude by Mating Ritual

Pacific Air is not dead, nor is it living.

While my brother and best friend Taylor pursues education and explores different endeavors in his life, Pacific Air will be taking a hiatus, and when the time is right for both of us, it will resurface. The last 2 years have been some of the most exciting, frustrating, and wonderful years we’ve encountered, but now I have a bigger, more exciting challenge…

Mating Ritual.

Mating Ritual is alive and here to stay, independent and eager to mark out it's own corner in the seemingly endless ocean that is the modern music community. 

Mating Ritual is my first completely solo project, and I’ve spent the better part of a year working (mostly) by myself in a dark cave in the Valley to craft these tunes. With previous musical projects, I have always put rules on my songwriting to preserve some (possibly false) sense of continuity with myself. For Mating Ritual I let these hesitations dissolve and allowed the songs to go where they needed to, resulting in the most explosive, beautiful, textural and honest songs that I have been a part of, baby.

Love 

Ryan Marshall Lawhon