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R


yley Walker has been compared to the likes of Van Morrison, Tim Buckley and John Martyn – some of the greatest folk rock musicians that ever lived – and he’s still only 26. A whiz on the guitar, and with a dulcet voice, he makes beautifully melodic and complex


tunes. Joined by Danny Tompson, legendary double bass player, he’ll be playing atNorwich Arts Centre this month. I caught up with this prodigal freewheeler and we had a chat about the life of Ryley.


I know you were first in a band at the age of just 12, a punk outfit. What made you switch genres? It just happened naturally really - I’m still loving playing everything. No specific moment comes to mind as to why I started making folky records. Have you ever had a guitar lesson or are you self taught? I took lessons for about eight years but definitely didn't take it as seriously as I should have! I can't read music nor do I really understand theory, but have had some great guidance from some great people though. You moved into jazz guitar when you got a little older – who were your inspirations at that time? Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell were early jazz guitarists I liked a lot. Further down the road, discovering Derek Bailey and Sonny Sharrock were big for me. At what point did you find your unique -voice and start writing lyrics? I think pretty recently actually. It took a while for me.


Your debut album All Kinds of You came out in 2014. Had you had those songs waiting in the wings for some time? Maybe for a year or so before I recorded them. I just played them live. Your music calls to mind the era of British 70’s folk. Do you feel an affinity with British music more so than American? Not really. It's not one versus the other. I like English and American rock and roll much more than any folk scene to be honest. I love everything! Te song Primrose Green has had a lot of love across the board. What do you think it was about that song that hit peoples sweet spot? It's really nice that people caught onto it. I got to travel the world and meet some really great people off the back of that album. A lot of people mentioned it reminded them of a lot of artists they grew up with and loved. As happy as that makes me, I'm excited to keep moving forward. I love the warmth of your music – it’s hypnotic and intense but also so beautifully


simple and plain. Do you see yourself doing anything differently musically-speaking in the future? Have you ever wanted to lead a full band for example? I’m touring a lot this year on my new record and that will keep me busy for the near future. After the new year I'd like to record some more with other projects I have. I'm open to anything musically if it brings me joy and challenges me to be better. You’re playing here in Norwich with legendary double bass player Danny Tompson; one of only four dates so we are truly honoured. He’s played with all the folk greats – you must have felt rather in awe of him at first? I'm definitely a huge fan of Danny and his work. He's warm and incredibly funny. After a few minutes, I felt like


we'd been friends forever. You’ve just released a wonderful new single, Te Heartbreak In Me from your soon-to-be-out album Golden Sings Tat I Have Been Sung. How would you describe this new collection of songs? It’s much more relaxed and focused. Te cover art is incredible. How was that developed? My friend Brian Blomerth has crazy talent and a far out mind! I sent him the music and he got back to me with what you see. I love it too. Golden Sings Tat I Have Been Sung was produced by LeRoy Bach. What do you feel he brought to the show? He offered an objective view on nearly everything. It was a relief to have. He brought experience and wisdom to a project I felt I couldn't lead. I really respect LeRoy a lot and couldn't have done this without him. You’ve again worked with some well known names from the Chicago music scene like Whitney Johnson, Brian Sulpizio and Ben Boye. What was your process for writing the songs, and at what point did you bring them onboard? Usually I come up with a cool riff and we work it out on stage. Tey are my trusted friends, so they always can be honest and help me along the way. You’re heading out on a huge worldwide tour soon. What are the best and worst aspects of touring in your opinion? Te best thing is playing a great gig, it’s better than anything. Te worst aspect is leaving loved ones back home. It can cause me a lot of anxiety. What’s worse – unrequited love or heartbreak? Well, I suppose both suck.


Lizz Page


INFORMATION Ryley Walker plays Norwich Arts Centre with Danny Tompson on 4th August. Tickets are available from norwichartscentre.co.uk


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