Ryan Graves - "The song is the messenger, I’m just the courier. But I love being the courier; and I pray for more opportunities to courier these songs to their listeners." - Stereo Stickman

Ryan Graves “The song is the messenger, I’m just the courier. But I love being the courier; and I pray for more opportunities to courier these songs to their listeners.”


Armed with a brand new album in the form of uniquely presented Human, Christian Rock and Pop Artist Ryan Graves kindly took part in an interview. We talk everything from Faith to creativity, live shows, inspiration, and plenty more. Here’s the conversation in full.

Hi Ryan – thanks so much for the interview! For those new to your work, what first inspired you to start making music?

I’ve always been a musician, always written songs. I LOVE the creative songwriting process, to see a song germinate from a seed to a blossom, and to witness its evolution, has always been amazing to me: to be able to look back and see that hindsight-is-20/20 maturation of where a song started and where it ended up, it’s just always been so very cool to me. I love singing and performing: it’s incredibly fulfilling and rewarding to share what God has given me to share, and to see and hear people receive it and tell me that they’ve been inspired by it in some way.

Tell me about the new release Human – what was the creative process like?

My new album, Human, turned out way better than I could have expected. Human is my 13th CD, and it is my 7th major commercial release (following Servant, Angst, The Collection, SonicLogos, Captive & Legacy).  I’ve also produced 6 other private releases.

Human was something that I just couldn’t wait on. As with Legacy, I had a great opportunity to work with Max Gaver once more on resurrecting some of my older (but still powerful) music, and I think you’re going to love them.  Especially Everything, Grace, Enemy, Dissonance, and the titular track, Human.  Also One Man and Meadows are pretty stinking cool, and those come from Max’s wheelhouse as well: he sequenced them, and I wrote the lyrics, melody and harmonies.

In an age of AI this and AI that, the message is unmistakably clear: even though it’s tough being human, our humanity matters. In addition, I was blown away to discover that my longtime friend and web designer (who designed my website) Chris Cummings, is also a musician! What a goof! (Me, not him.) I’m sure he told me way back when, and I’m sure I forgot.

Chris has produced some stellar stuff over the years, and a few of those songs really hit me right in the feels. I knew when I heard Game Theory and Shadows in Shadows that they were destined to become hits, and Chris graciously allowed me to use these songs to set lyrics and melodies to them, and produce some powerful tunes. Thus, Fear of Man, Enemy, Grace, 139, Dissonance, and Human were born. This album is sick!  It’s filled with peace and strife…quiet and rage…just like, uh, pretty much all of life.  Like Captive, many of these songs are about the human condition.  Thus, Human.

What is it about artists like Alanis Morissette and Michael Jackson that connects with and impresses you?

For MJ, it’s been about the whole performance…singing, dancing, songwriting, the persona of all of it wrapped in a single compelling package. He was crazy talented. For Alanis, I’ve watched her evolve and loved being eyewitness to her growth as an artist…hearing her original music and now her much more mature stuff, it’s all been delightful to behold, and very inspiring to see the journey.

Given the versatility of your sound, what do you think makes a great song, regardless of genre?

I consider myself a lyricist first and foremost. I’ve loved and appreciated Alanis’ usage of infrequently-used jargon…it’s the same thing that comedian Brian Regan employs. They use words that make you whip out your dictionary. I appreciate the knowledge check in songs like that. 

My song Conundrum from my album Captive is very much like that. It’s a Shift-F7 song, haha. You really do learn a lot from that song, and from many on this album. There’s always a much more creative way to say it, and I’m past the Oh I love you, yes it’s true, Oh I love you, yes I do simple elementary rhyme and meter. 

“The titular track Human from my new album doesn’t even rhyme. It doesn’t have to. What has to happen is the story has to be told.” 

Once that’s done, folding it into a cohesive and captivating melody is the next step, and as I previously mentioned, it’s such a great privilege, humbling even, to behold that process, from germination, to evolution, to maturation. I deeply cherish the songwriting process.

In what ways does your Faith impact your creative approach and perspective within the music scene?

My faith is everything to me. Thus, the track, Everything. It inspires everything I do. It is my all-consuming force, my reason for living, my core, and the impetus behind all of my music. Some songs speak it more plainly, and others more evocatively…but all orbit around my truth that God and Jesus are One, that I am loved, that Jesus died for me, and that I have immense value as His son, His child.

Is live performance an important part of what you do?

Yes! It really is. There was a time where I felt very uncomfortable performing on stage, but music lets me take a step back and hide behind the lyrics and the notes. It’s not really me at the forefront then; it’s the song. And that’s the way it should be. 

The song is the messenger, I’m just the courier. But I love being the courier; and I pray for more opportunities to courier these songs to their listeners. I’m immeasurably grateful for each and every gig we receive, as it’s a humbling vote of confidence and a rich privilege to be able to get it out there and share what I believe.

What does the song Enemy represent?

John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I am come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus said that.  Our enemy is called the accuser of the brothers…a roaring lion seeking someone to devour…he is the deceiver. He masquerades as an angel of light in order to seem palatable, but he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It is his utter goal and delight to separate us from following Jesus, and he is hellbent – quite literally – on peeling as many people away from the fold as he can.  It’s his pride that will be his downfall, and in the end he’ll be thrown into a lake of burning sulfur forever and ever. The sad part is that he knows this, and yet he persists in attacking us, leading us down primrose paths to our own demise, rejoicing in our defeat, and smirking in the face of Almighty God. He’s a loser, a pathetic failure, and like the song says, “This enemy is going down, down, down…”

Then to shift gears quite distinctly, ‘Sophia’ feels like a pop-rock classic from a simpler era. What does this song mean to you?

That’s exactly what it is! It was resurrected from my cache of near-published music from 1999, from my Life album, and it was originally called Regarding Sophia. (I prefer that title but can’t use it because it’s already been published and there would be confusion). It’s a great song about dating and letting go and trusting. 

SO many people are caught up in the anxious dating game, and hedging their bets, and being all-consumed by this person or that person. One of the key points of the song says “That I know, yes I know, it’ll be OK, if I let, yes I let your love lead the way.” Isn’t that true? I don’t want to invoke the old adage, “let go and let God,” but, well, actually yes I do. 😊

Do you ever play unplugged and acoustic, or always with this full-band set-up?

Oh man, I’m so untalented with instruments. It’s just me and the karaoke track if that’s the case. No, I am a live band guy, and prefer the dynamics of working with the guys flanking and surrounding me far more than being up there by my lonesome with an unmoving and unforgiving .mp3 backing me.

In what ways did starting a family change the way you wrote or approached your music career?

Well, on a previous album, Legacy, the song Fly was recreated by Max Gaver, and it came to life beautifully. That song was originally written for some kids I was working with back in 1999, but it has been repurposed and directed toward my two sons, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Both my boys love it and frequently request Alexa to play it. They love that song and know that it’s for them. It’s my 7 year old’s favorite song. That makes me so happy and proud as a daddy. 

And I wrote a song called Beautiful for my wife that I presented live to her, as a surprise, in our wedding ceremony. In that song I essentially stole lyrics from a poem of hers that she had written earlier, that say “Everything in the past has led to now, and I’m in love with now.” Thankfully, she didn’t sue me for copyright infringement. Ha! But I never would have produced either without my wife and kiddos in the mix.  They are my heart’s delight and the apples of my eye…I love and am so grateful for them. Thank you Lord.

What’s next for you?

I’m not sure. Music is a different world now, and people don’t tend to buy as many CD’s anymore, so it’s hard being a starving music artist. Thank God it’s not my livelihood or bread and butter. Voiceovers are.  I’m a full-time voiceover artist. But I can see myself becoming some kind of music mentor at some point. 

I have aspirations of writing a book and becoming a music coach or business coach perhaps. We’ll see. I love music, and it’s an intrinsic and indispensable, inseparable part of my identity. Ryan Graves creates music, and music creates Ryan Graves. It’s never going to be any different, and I wouldn’t want it to be.

Find Ryan Graves on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram or visit his Website.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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