John The Blind

Biography John The Blind

John The Blind, aka John Ryan
Ask John The Blind, aka John Ryan, and he’ll tell you he’s had one true identity: recording artist. In fact, so clear to Ryan was his destiny as an artist that even in recent years as he became one of the most successful and in-demand songwriters in pop music, penning world-dominating singles for A-list artists including Harry Styles, Maroon 5, John Legend and Niall Horan, he knew it was when – not if – he would unveil his own material and jumpstart his future as a solo artist.

“I didn’t feel like I was exercising my whole creative muscle,” he says of the years spent principally writing songs for other artists, and simultaneously penning what became John the Blind songs in the evening hours. “I still had stuff that I needed to get off my chest, and I needed to go do it or else I was gonna freak out.”

Pop-music fans best be thankful the musician is finally unleashing those songs onto the world. Anchored by gentle piano plinks and juxtaposed with staccato electro stabs, the falsetto-driven “Two Months,” Ryan explains, was inspired by a long-distance relationship he endured, and one that concluded with an eight-week intense period of uncertainty. “It was torture,” he says now. “It was two months of being across the world from her needing to make a decision whether we were going to survive or not.” Likewise, the slinky and aquatic “Sticky” finds Ryan offering a taken crush the opportunity to “make a mess” out of their lives should she choose to risk it all for him.

As for his performing as John the Blind? The moniker references an ancient Bohemian king who fought his battles blind and was carted onto the field of battle on horseback by his men. “And that’s the way I create,” Ryan explains. “I go in, I am blind to the creative process and then an hour or two later there’s just this song there.” But it’s also as much a reference to his no-holds barred artistic process; a metaphor for how he envisions this project to be as much a creative collective as a solo endeavor. “It gives me leeway if another artist or friend wants to come be part of the project,” he says of John the Blind’s open-ended possibilities.

It’s quite fitting, actually: creativity is where Ryan has long found his community. Raised in Rochester, New York, the young musician turned to music as his refuge, and “when other kids were doing other things on a sunny day I’d be in a dark room playing music,” he recalls. At the time, “the word ‘career’ never popped into my head,” he admits. “I didn’t know that music was necessarily calling me. I was just doing what I was feeling. I was doing it because I felt like I had to.”

At 11, Ryan was already showcasing an eclectic taste in music: Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Wu-Tang Clan, Grateful Dead. To a young Ryan, all he knew was “I wanted to rap and I wanted to play guitar and I wanted to sing. I wanted to be like my heroes.” He found a kindred spirit in his friend, the now-acclaimed singer-songwriter Teddy Geiger, with whom he formed a locally successful pop band. By the time he attended and then graduated from Berklee College of Music, Ryan had become infatuated with the Beatles (“My mind was literally expanding before my very eyes,” he recalls of first hearing Abbey Road) and thrived being around a community of other passionate musicians writing and creating. “My goal was to take the path of inspiration rather than the alleyway of desperation,” Ryan says of his moving to LA in his early twenties and steadily gaining recognition as one of pop music’s most celebrated songwriters.

Putting himself in such a vulnerable position is a hardly frightening proposition for Ryan. In fact, the singer, who plans to tour heavily in 2019, says being front-and-center with his life on public display via John the Blind is exactly how he prefers it. His life has led to this moment, and he’s not about to back down. “I’m always the drunk guy at 6 am in the bathroom leading a Beatles sing-along,” Ryan says with a laugh. “That’s my deal. That’s where I have and always will shine.”

It’s this uninhibited, enthused approach to his craft that led to his forthcoming EP set for release via Atlantic Records in 2019. Or, as the musician sees it, the coming months represent the culmination of a multi-decade musical journey that’s been nothing short of a dream fulfilled.

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