In between recording, skating, drinking beer, and trying out new chili recipes during the pandemic, Ryan Kaiser was writing and recording, sharing more stories of the times and bittersweetness of relocating to Nashville on his EP Santolina (Nice Guy Records).
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A follow-up to the 2019 EP Bipolar and five-track Nature Machine in 2020— and still riding off the 160 million streams of the 2019 single “YKWIM?”—Santolina expands on the bedroom productions of the 22-year-old Mississippi native, now based in Nashville.
Santolina is a trip through Kaiser’s lo-fi space, from the bubbling pop of opener “Alive” and the indie elements of “Channel 4,” drifting through the addictive swirling beats of “Deer Island”—Kaiser’s anthem to travel—on through the spacier “It’s Easy” and “Crescent City” and the drum pulsing “Hole.”
Kaiser gave American Songwriter a quick glimpse into Santolina, relocating to Nashville, and why he’s not just another guy with a TikTok song.
American Songwriter: How did the pieces of debut EP Santolina start coming together? What do these six songs mean to you?
Ryan Kaiser: I would say it highlights the monotony of my day-to-day life at the time that I wrote it. I’d just finished school and had plans to move but there was six months left on my lease so I was stuck for a bit. These were the last songs I recorded before I moved to Nashville so they’re a little bittersweet I would say.
AS: What is your favorite song on the EP?
RK: My favorite song on the new EP is “It’s Easy.” It was a lot of fun to record and it came out different than anything I’ve made before.
AS: How have Mississippi an Nashville influenced your music?
RK: Mississippi helped out a lot. It was so cheap to live there that I was able to spend most of my time recording. There was also not a lot to do so it was easy to stay focused. Since moving to Nashville I’ve been able to see a lot more shows and meet a lot of new musicians, which has given me a lot of new influence.
AS: TikTok has really impacted your following and reach. How has it affected your music in such a short amount of time?
RK: The whole Tiktok thing has been so crazy because I really don’t understand that app at all. I’m definitely appreciative of all the new listeners it’s brought me though. It’s inspired me to work harder because I want to show people I’m a legitimate artist and not some guy with a TikTok song.
AS: How do songs typically come together for you, and what are the ingredients for a great song?
RK: I always record the instruments first and then I write the lyrics once I have the everything fully arranged. I like to name the instrumentals before I write to them so there’s a main theme going into it. I think a good song is something different depending on who you ask but for me I love something that’s memorable off of the first listen.
Photo: Paige Margulies