Aly Ryan on Facetime Love and Being a Misfit
Pop singer Aly Ryan turned her teenage struggles into adulthood triumphs in her 2017 EP, Misfits. From not fitting in to embracing her oddities, Ryan’s story connected with an audience of outcasts worldwide. These days, Ryan’s lyrics lie in another universal narrative: the pangs of young love in the age of technology.
In her new track “Facetime (Ft. YNW Melly),” Ryan sings about long-distance love and a failed effort to stay connected. “In this song,” she tells TIDAL, “[the couple has] a great time together, and now it’s out because they’re only talking on FaceTime, and they’re not actually continuing a relationship or making the effort to see each other.”
Through insecurities and love, the Germany-bred, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter aims to relate through music. In this Q&A, Ryan shares the story behind the song, moving to L.A. at 16 and even talks about meeting the Dalai Lama.
You just put out a song called “Facetime” with YNW Melly. How did you guys get together?
I wrote that track a month ago. I had heard some of Melly’s music, and I really liked it, and I reached out to him [with my record]. He immediately was like, ‘I love it.’ He went to the studio and he cut a third verse, a bunch of ad libs and sent it back to me.
When I was listening to the track, I was thinking it could be about a long distance relationship or just people in the social media era not really spending real time with each other. What was the song about for you?
It actually is about a long distance relationship. These days, we spend a lot of time texting and Facetiming and all that stuff instead of actually spending quality time with each other. A lot of times, we connect over texting or FaceTiming and don’t actually have a great time when we meet. In this song, it’s opposite. They have a great time together, and now it’s out because they’re only talking on FaceTime, and they’re not actually continuing a relationship or making the effort to see each other.
You’re planning on releasing a project at the end of this year. Looking back at your 2017 The Misfits EP, how do the two differ?
The Misfits EP was very particular. There was not one love song or anything else that didn’t relate to the whole vibe in high school that I was an outsider but at that same time, finding my group and the people I had the best time with. That was the whole EP was about society and those growing pains.
I’ve seen this theme of you not fitting in in other interviews. In what way did you feel like you were a misfit or that you didn’t fit in?
When I first got started in Germany, I switched schools because I was in a Catholic all-girls school. I wasn’t feeling like I had a lot of friends. I switched schools because my best friend was at another school and became friends with everyone she was friends with. What ended up happening was, she got really jealous and tried to isolate me from the whole group. I started hanging out with kids that were kind of outsiders, and they are some of my best friends now. I really related to them because they were very authentic and not so judgmental. I think it’s all about finding your group.
So this was in Germany, but you moved to L.A. at 16. Was that a culture shock?
When I first came here, I was really scared. That’s something that I talk about in my music a lot — feeling alone but dealing with it and getting through it and starting new and proving to yourself that you can achieve the things you want to achieve.
I moved because I did a TV show in Germany that was a kind of American Idol for kids type of thing. I got bullied really badly. I just thought if I came here that I would be more accepted for my differences because I feel like you can be who you want to be in the US. You can have green hair, blue hair and wear the craziest outfits and people appreciate you for it. Where I was from, it was more like, ‘You’re weird, stop it.’
I saw a picture of you and the Dalai Lama on your Instagram. Can you tell me about that?
My brother died when he was 15, and he was handicapped his whole life. When I was 15 years old, the Dalai Lama came to my brother’s school in Germany which is particularly for handicapped children. My dad had actually known the Dalai Lama. My parents are war correspondents, and my dad told the Dalai Lama about my brother. So, he decided to come to my brother’s school to meet him. My brother was so sick that he couldn’t be there. He came to the school and met all the kids and donated 50,000 Euros to the school. My parents built a foundation for handicapped children.
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