Moving from Los Gatos, California to New York’s Hudson Valley, Ryan Martin started putting the pieces of his third album Wandercease (High Moon Records), one he admits is his sole heartbreak record, together. Through second track, “Coma Kiss,” Martin explores one of the overriding themes of Wandercease, the love between two people, the old-fashioned, sentimental kind.
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“I’m always looking into the past, and I pull up all this stuff from my memories to write about,” says Martin. “There’s some imagery in there too that seemed appropriate to the feeling. I’m not sure what it means. I guess it seemed like a good way to ask the questions I was asking myself at the time.”
He adds, “‘Coma Kiss’ feels like the affection that you lose and can’t get back when you pass the tipping point and you go on in a feelingless state. Maybe it’s a coma, because there’s still a chance it can be awoken again, and maybe you want it to, or maybe it’s your own stubbornness that’s blocking you.”
Produced by Kenny Siegel, and mixed by Paul Kolderie (The Pixies, Radiohead, Dinosaur Jr.) Martin enlisted local musicians to color in the remainder of his musical vision on Wandercease. “This album is really all songs written after I left someone who still meant and means a lot to me,” says Martin. “It’s about my feelings of having my different identities in conflict with each other—the faithful partner, the hedonist, the domesticated father, the free traveler.”
He adds, “It’s so hard for me to be true to one part of myself without the other fighting to get out. Something feels suppressed, then I make bad decisions. Then I’m deceitful. The record is pretty autobiographical. A lot of it is literal. It’s my story up to this point for better or worse. I was just trying to be honest.”
This honesty is portrayed in the “Coma Kiss” video, directed by Daniel Weintraub, a hodgepodge of old film and stock footage telling its cohesive tale of love in all its many forms.
For Martin, writing is some strange culmination of bits and pieces of life and music, all documented since his 2012 debut For All the Beautiful Losers, becoming a father, then releasing Gimme Some Light in 2018. “It’s hard for me to write without being inspired,” he says. “People have encouraged me to write for the sake of it, like exercising a muscle, but I still struggle with that either out of laziness or because there’s some block that prevents me from working on something I don’t really care about. Anyway it always starts with the music and the words are painfully pounded out later. The best of course is when it all comes at once and you’re guided by the subconscious. Those are my best songs, I think.”
Still, Martin respects practicing the craft, sometimes dreaming of songs, which he says were better than anything he thought of while awake—but are often forgotten once he wakes.
“I think I’ve tried to simplify things, to not be too clever or overthink what I want to write about,” shares Martin. “I believe I write best when I keep it simple and not get too philosophical or whatever. I also think a lot of things are consistent from when I made my first record. I try not to pressure myself into creating something new and original and hip. I’m not that kinda guy. I tell stories that have been told before, but they are mine, and it feels right to sing them.”
If it comes naturally, says Martin, then it’s meaningful—and there’s no more room for a “breakup” record. “I believe in letting things evolve on their own and in their own time,” he says. “I agree things can shift quickly, but I don’t force it. As I change what I think is important in life, I’ll change my point of view in my art. I don’t think I have another breakup record in me. Thats been done now. ‘Wandercease’ is it.”