2 Minutes With … Jason Ryterband, Composer, Music Editor and Artist

On watching electronica grow from the fringes into a massive influence

Jason recently released a single titled "Camouflage." Ryterband also serves as a commercial composer and music editor. His work has graced over 50 TV shows and films, including Euphoria, Brooklyn 99 and The Umbrella Academy. 

As a performer, Ryterband has blurred genres—from acoustic simplicity to energetic house beats. His songs have amassed over 7 million streams, topped the charts on Apple Music and Beatport, and earned global radio play. Two years ago, "Brilliant Eyes," co-produced with Grammy-winner Bob Cutarella, won top honors in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. 

We spent two minutes with Jason to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Jason, tell us ...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up on the Jersey Shore. It's not like the TV show—my area was super quiet, a tiny town called Rumson. I used to ride my bike to the beach in the summer. I moved to L.A. after college—first to West Hollywood, later Santa Monica, and now Venice.

Your earliest musical memory. 

I was probably 3 or 4, with my mom, getting ready for bed. She is a singer, and at the time, she was trying to teach me how to harmonize. She kept trying to get me to continue singing my note while she changed hers, but I would get confused and sing her note instead. When I finally got it, it was kind of thrilling. This was my first experience of being mesmerized by sound.

Your favorite bands/musicians today. 

I have a life-long appreciation for a band called Underworld. They are pioneers of electronic music. Other musicians and groups include Jon Hopkins, Moderat, Bonobo, Fred Again and Son Lux.

All these artists explore arrangement, production, sound design and genre in unique ways. I learn so much from them. I love it when I hear a song that tries something I hadn't thought of or didn’t expect. I have playlists filled with songs like this, organized by what inspires me: "Production," “Synths," "Atmospheres," "Drums," "Minimalism." Minimalism is a particularly juicy topic. My music is so lush. I'm fascinated when an artist creates a compelling feeling with very few layers or little instrumentation.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on. 

My current music project as a solo artist, Ryterband, is the most meaningful creative endeavor I've ever engaged in—a true experience of stepping out. I wanted to create a solo project for many years, and finally found the courage in 2017. The whole first EP and video series was an homage to the creative process and the joy of self-expression. I've learned more about myself, about songwriting and production, and about the human experience than I ever would have imagined. I've touched something that feels at times transcendent, spiritual. You might hear this in tracks like "Lighthouse" or "Camouflage."

A recent project you're proud of. 

Last November, I was asked to co-produce and sing a cover of  "Say Something" (originally by A Great Big World) for a TV show called Sullivan's Crossing. It was a joint effort between me, my long-time songwriting teacher/mentor Rob Seals (of The Songwriting School of Los Angeles), and the singer-songwriter Sophia Moore. I love the original song, and I did my best to keep the production incredibly simple while diving deep into the emotion and message of the vocals. I'm so proud of the finished product, and you can hear it in the season finale of Sullivan's Crossing.

One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about. 

Over my lifetime, I've watched electronic music grow from the fringes of society into a massive influence on almost every style of music—pop, hip-hop, alternative, even jazz and classical. I'm glad this genre has made its way into the mainstream, and I love the diversity of expression that has resulted. Second: I've come up in a time when music is far more democratized than it used to be. As artists, we need more business savvy than we used to, but we're totally capable of operating outside the traditional record label system (as I have done for most of my career). To me, it's exciting and empowering not to just make art, but also to build a business. This the reason I have no misgivings about connecting my music editing and songwriting—they are two parts of my career and my personality: the technical/precise, and the intuitive/emotional, and each one supports the other.

Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately. 

I recently started reading Joe Dispenza's book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. I'm finding it fascinating and empowering. In my younger years, I leaned more on the side of  "if you can't measure it, it doesn't exist." This book is the latest in a series of books, workshops and personal practices that have helped me look beyond this limited perspective.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring. 

As a music editor, I had the pleasure of working with Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij on a limited series called A Murder at the End of the World. I became fans of Brit and Zal years ago, after having a psychedelic experience while watching The OA. Make no mistake—I was sober. I had just finished the last episode of season one, walked out of my apartment into a foggy Venice evening, and I felt like I was walking through a dream—seeing the world in a completely different way. I never realized a movie or TV show could have this kind of power. When I was asked to work on A Murder at the End of the World, I felt honored. I was inspired all the way through—by the creativity of the team, the level of integrity and commitment, and the collaborative atmosphere that Brit and Zal fostered. The series debuts in November. I hope the world enjoys the finished product as much as I enjoyed the process.

An artist you admire outside the world of music. 

My partner Carla Olivia Torres is a screenwriter whom I admire tremendously. It's as much her unique creative voice as her relentless tenacity and a magical ability to become the most valuable person in any room. I learn so much from her. Another one: Kate Shela. She has been my dance teacher for over a decade. She teaches a form of dance called 360 Emergence—it's freeform movement, self-expression, meditation, dance, catharsis, exercise and connection—all rolled into one. She has most definitely changed my life.

Your favorite fictional character. 

Peewee Herman. He was a shining light in my childhood. Harmless, goofy, fully expressed, unique, playful, fun-loving and way out on the fringes of absurdity. He taught me to keep my imagination wide open.

Someone worth following in social media. 

Follow 350.org. Heck, donate some money. They're a nonprofit trying to end the use of fossil fuels worldwide. Large-scale change like that is our only chance of preventing the worst of climate change. With so many forces pushing us in the wrong direction, I strongly believe in supporting people and groups that are pushing us in the right direction.

Your main strength as a creative. 

In music editing, I'm really good at thinking on my feet and coming up with creative solutions under intense pressure. In songwriting/production, I've learned how to get out of my own way and let the song decide what it wants to be and where it wants to go.

Your biggest weakness. 

Sometimes, creatively, I can't see the forest for the trees. The tiny details, though they may be glaring to me in the moment, are irrelevant after I step back. Also, in the absence of a deadline, it's goddamn hard for me to finish things. I'm working on it. Proud to say I'll have no fewer than six new songs out by year's end.

Something people would find surprising about you. 

I've been practicing mindfulness meditation regularly for over 10 years, and spent a few years teaching it (2015-17). My meditation website is still up, with articles all over the map. There are something like 200 guided meditations on there as well. I credit meditation for unlocking my voice as a songwriter (and in general), and for bringing a degree of awe and wonder into my life that I would have thought impossible.

One thing that always makes you happy. 

Sunlight. The tropics. Sex—in a loving context. 

One thing that always makes you sad. 

Autumn. Every year. I think it's because I didn't like going back to school as a kid. I don't understand why people like autumn. All gray and cold and the plants die. I moved to L.A. as a defense against autumn (and also to work in the entertainment industry). Turns out some of the trees lose their leaves here, too. But the entertainment thing worked out.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business. 

Probably something involving the written word—poet, writer? I've always loved language and playing with words. I love specificity—finding exactly the right words to say what feels true. I love storytelling and understanding the hidden motivations of characters.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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