Perfection is damn near impossible to come by and it almost never happens. Yet somehow, someway, alone in his parent’s basement, Ryan Martin hit that rare pocket in time and captured perfection. As if that weren’t enough, the stars blew one more kiss in the form of two illustrators from halfway around the world and now, the perfect circle is complete. The song, the video, the performance, the timing; everything is just…perfect.
As big of a statement as this is, it’s warranted. “Real Human Being” is everything and American Songwriter is proud to premiere its video to the world.
For the Die-hard Martin scratching their heads thinking “Real Human Being” has already been released, you’re not wrong, the song appears on his 2018 release Gimme Some Light. Not to worry, there’s new music right around the corner. In fact, Martin is fervently readying everything for the release of his next album Wandercease on High Moon Records come this October.
But that’s October and this brilliant mini movie that is “Real Human Being” is right now.
With its hushed and fragile vocals floating over the fingerpicking of an acoustic guitar, from the instant the song starts to slip through the speakers the listener is transported into another world. Enter celebrated animators Michaela Müller and Anna Samo and their aggressively artistic vision – painting on glass. The process produces an amazing visual but is ungodly intricate and time consuming as it consists of hours in a dark room where every frame is painted by hand, recorded, wiped away, then painted again. Factor in the added difficulty of each artist relegated to their own studio, these two were working together but apart, ultimately volleying animated sketches back and forth.
What transpired? A spine-tingling, exquisite mini movie of colors and textures with images we all know.
Müller and Samo explain. “We took the energy and the mood of the song as our lead. It is the story of a lonely person, wandering through the city with an ever more heavy heart. Starting in a rainy dark place the character manages to find a way to brighten up the town’s mood, creating music with his heart, finding new hope.”
“We talked a lot about the concept for the video with Michaela Müller and Anna Bergmann,” recalls Martin. “The themes touch on the consequences of separation from people and a loss of that connection to the world, to purpose or meaning. And to me I think the video suggests that it’s always there, the thing you thought you lost, you just need to work at finding it again. Or letting go of the thoughts that get in the way. It’s hard to be in the world with a big heart. To feel things deeply and go about life on a daily basis. I’m proud of what they did, I think it’s beautiful.”
As for the song itself?
“This was one of those songs that came quickly,” Ryan continues. “I was struggling at the time and I think I wanted to write about the longing I had for a real connection to someone or something. The desire to truly know someone, if that exists, has always remained a motivation for me in art and in life.
And it’s a declaration of who I am, to reassure myself that I am honest, and I can have peace and state my case to the world. It’s a song that still feels necessary to sing, because it anchors me to what matters.”
Recorded as a demo in his parents’ basement, Martin’s little 4 track TASCAM portastudio captured the song like no other studio could. Maybe it was the moment, who knows, but try as he may Martin could never produce a studio recording that would match the intimacy and effectiveness of that basement demo recording.
“We did a studio version, but it didn’t have the sincerity and the feeling that this one did. I like the little rough edges.”
Like every other artist in the world, Martin wrestles with both the Covid-19 / Coronavirus situation as well as the civil unrest that grips our nation and wonders daily not only when we’ll return to normal but what that new normal will be. Fans are left to wonder not only that but in terms of new music, how these uncertainties will affect new music from Martin. While Martin doesn’t have the answer to the world’s problems, he does have an answer both for the interim as well as his own musical future.
“For one, I think the video and the song speak to a universal theme that is relevant in dealing with things like racism, insensitivity, injustice, chaos. I’m not trying to pull the focus away from what matters most. The suffering people go through is what this song is about. Also, I’ll speak for those who are struggling in quarantine, and can maybe relate to what it feels like to be the character in the video right now. Maybe it can help. It’s the best I can do, try to help.
“In the future, who’s to say what will happen with concerts and the virus. I’d love to play shows soon, but I wouldn’t want to rush it. I’ll continue to release music. I have a new record coming out this fall titled “Wandercease.” I recorded it up in Catskill at Old Soul Studios with Kenny Siegal. The whole process was so fulfilling. It was the most collaborative experience I’ve had making a record. All the musicians blew my mind and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
“I think music is good for the soul, so I’ll give what I can to the causes of love and justice through the music I make.”