Melbourne’s newest indie-pop maestro, Ryan Meeking, has released an epic new pop track, “Endless Run”.
“Endless Run” is a visceral, multi-layered beat that commemorates a summer to end all summers. Meeking’s vocals are cool and serene, accompanied by bright melodies, and sharp, precise production. Lyrically, Meeking opens up about years of intense, obsessive study of pop writing. The tune is co-produced and engineered by Sam Swain (Josh Cashman, Obscura Hail) and mastered by Randy Merrill (Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber).
A striking video supports the single release – a stunning display of light and movement. Within it, Meeking dances solo, with some intense and vivid art direction. The clip draws its inspiration from human movement and is put together by director and photographer Rick Clifford (Ainslie Wills, Bad Pony, Tori Forsyth).
FIB chats with Ryan Meeking about his new track drop and what’s coming up next for the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter…
Tell me about your new track, Endless Run:
Endless Run is one of the first tracks. You may have already read this response somewhere, but it’s really different for me because it’s the first time I’ve really gone into production and writing at the same time thinking I need to be really mindful of the physical response I’m having to it, as I’m writing it. I really wanted it to make me move, physically and I think that’s because of the subject matter.
The song is basically about being in the festival crowd as an example of the euphoria it’s trying to capture. But it also has this sort of, honesty to the lyrics that only comes about I think in those times when you’re belonging so much in the party and into that moment in time that nothing else seems to matter. So you’re sort of emboldened to tell people exactly how you feel about them, even if you’ve been feeling that way for a long time, especially. So yeah, it’s got this double meaning of that particular moment in time and also that long stretch of the timelessness of the party, just, never-ending.
Do you generally write your own music?
I’ve always done it, but my production skills have come a really long way in the last few years and so it depends who I’m writing with, or for. So there are bands that I write with that you start with the chords or the melody, or your standard structure of a song. But with this solo stuff, it’s very, I dunno if you hear it in the track, but there’s a lot of intricate layers that go together to create an overall picture.
So, to do that, I start with a lot of the production first. I try to place the song, like the mood I’m feeling and want to convey, I try to place it in a sonic space so that it just puts the listener straight into that world in as short of time as possible. That’s the thing that I love about pop music, it’s the most to-the-point music I’ve ever heard except maybe punk. It’s saying exactly what it wants to say as quickly as possible.
And so is that where you sit genre-wise, pop?
Yeah, absolutely. I think I always have. I Grew up hanging out with musos who were very anti-pop, very into indie bands and listening to things like The Grates, Radiohead, those kinds of artists. You can’t get much further than pop. I initially saw pop as a bit of a like, dirty and cheap thing.
But I always felt that I was writing in a way that could go to different places than the writing was, into just straight-up rock songs, it didn’t feel like I was getting quite what I wanted out of the actual song. So, you know, this style all of a sudden I just thought, over the last couple of years, I really started listening to pop properly. And sort of finding out how it’s pulling those strings and how it makes you lose yourself a little bit. I just realised that’s where my writing needs to be.
So you find that your writing style is more harmonious with pop?
Definitely, like vocal, upfront lyrics that are finding the simplest way to say what they mean. I really enjoy writing poetically and sort of waxing lyrical and having intimate, like, flown kind of language. I actually also really enjoy the challenge of being very conversational with the lyrics and you know, making the song feel like a conversation with a friend.
It does have an intimacy which is very beautiful…
Yeah, and it does in the sound and in the lyric, I think. And it’s about shared experience. I think for a long time I wrote just based on my experience, you know, to share that experience with other people. To let them know, I guess, how I was feeling. Sort of over the last little while, I realised that really, music is about connecting with people about how they’re feeling too and finding each other in that song. So a lot of my writings really gone, all of it actually, my whole approach has changed instead of thinking I need to express this feeling and I need to sit down so I can blab it out the world, whoever’s listening. How do I form this song and the sound of it as well and the production space so that it gets people to sit down with me?
What was the track’s creative process like?
Just before covid, I actually put together a really useful home studio. I can pretty much work songs all the way through to release from that space. So that’s really cool because it means that when I want to write, I just walk down the hallway into a room and I have all of the tools that I need to, you know, create this baby and then to bring it up into an adult in the one song. There’s no, sort of, logistical problems in the way of that happening.
So, obviously on the solo stuff, when I’m working on solo music I feel like you can lose perspective pretty quickly. It’s really good to work with other people, there are people that you work with that are just total geniuses in their own right that have brought a whole lot to the picture. But yeah, I definitely write now, from a production standpoint at the same time as from a songwriting standpoint.
You co-produced “Endless Run” with Sam Swain, what was the process of co-production like?
So, the way that endless run came about was that I put together the beat in my own studio, with a quirky sound to it. A lot of the arrangement was done before I even met Sam. But when I took it in the studio to Sam, really it was an exercise in augmenting what was there. Taking it to places, that, to be honest, I don’t really have time to sit and mix and really, really fine-tune the song because I would never write more music. I’m a massive perfectionist too, so, I have to be really aware not to fall into those spirals.
So the reason that I really love Sam in the studio is that not only is he a really good ideas man, but the sound that he gets out of every single thing that he’s recorded is so punchy and it’s almost like – I mean, he works on punk records and indie rock records and he can equally jump on a pop record like this and totally own it but also bring that larger-than-life, hyper-real sound to everything.
Like, if you remember the shaker, in “Endless Run”, there’s all of the rhythmic elements that are so much huger than a shaker should be but they sit in the right space, you know. So yeah, he’s got a great mind but I think the reason that I’ve been able to achieve this kind of stuff now as opposed to writing as that I’ve done before is from all of the production stuff as well and getting a lot done myself.
And how did the clip come together?
It came about because I definitely wanted to have, because of the way I’d written the track, I definitely wanted to have people moving in it and dancing and things like that. I’ve become a massive fan of dance as an art form and I’m not a great dancer but I’m so in awe of people who are. I think that how people move to music is so interesting, definitely try it, if you never have.
With the clip, we always knew that we wanted that. Actually, before meeting Rick I was producing a record for a young singer-songwriter and he’s also a lighting technician and he showed me this light and usually, I’d be like, yeah whatever, it’s just a light. But the stuff that this thing did, it can create entire backdrops and worlds, any colour.
I was like, man, if I want to transport people sonically through the music then this is going to do the same thing visually. And the thing about that is we actually wrote him in. His name’s Bodhi Hawkin, we wrote him in to actually operate the light, so we did it live. So nothing on the day is really pre-planned, I think we all had it exactly in our heads how it turned out. It really was, like, here are the elements, now use them just like you would use instruments to go to a space. The only thing that was pre-done, I think, were those goggles that you see. They were hastily painted and I still had paint all over my face afterwards.
Who are your biggest sound influences / what’s on your playlist at the moment?
A little while back, I became really obsessed with Frank Ocean and those kinds of artists. The way that they treat vocals is, like, amazing. But I can’t get away from things like that Dua Lipa song “Levitate”. I can’t stop listening to it. It’s one of those ones which I reckon come about every few years. I listen to a lot of pop and think, ok cool, what’s the mechanics of that? And then there’s this one where I think, that’s it. That’s pop, right there. That’s on my rotation until it dies.
I’ve got a playlist here that I’ve made. Oh yeah, stuff like Anderson Paak, anything that Beck is doing. There was a red, like, what would Beck do? Question in the studio. He’d always been a huge influence on me, recently I thought, I’m going to totally embrace him to the point that I try to emulate him a bit. So I listen a lot to him. And you can’t go past, like Beyoncé anything, really. Lemonade record, like, dude. Solange is like, equally as cool by the way. Have you listened to Solange? There’s an album called “A Seat at the Table” and it’s just so amazing. And then I reckon, finally, if you just throw in just a bit of St. Lucia, that elevate the song, that’s just like pure – if you reached back into the 80s and pulled out just the awesome cool shit.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it?
I would say, you know, picture a pop song and imagine that it transports you to somewhere incredibly meaningful. Oh gosh, I’ve never been asked this question before. Which you think would be number one on the list of everything everywhere. What I’m going for, you know, and I don’t know how to say this. Like, come and hear an emotion basically and get lost in it, that’s what it’s gonna be.
And what’s next for you?
There’s an EP coming out of all this. “Endless Run” is the first little ice breaker. The rest of that will come out in due course. I’m working on a few tracks at the moment with a band called Whitaker, which I’ve been in for a lot of years and that’s going into a very different and exciting space.
I think because I pulled the solo stuff out of it and stopped trying to do everything there with Whitaker, it’s become the most pure form of what it is and the most pure form of what I am which is cool. So I’m collaborating with those guys. As far as other artists, I try to co-write as much as I possibly can but I really need to embrace Zoom a little bit more for that because everything’s a bit weird at the moment. So as soon as I’m allowed to like, drive around. I was saying to a friend, if you just told me all of the things that are going on and the current restrictions, but not why, I would be thinking, that’s it. It’s a 1984 dystopia. It happened! And it’s totally palatable because it’s for a good reason.
Anyway, collaborations. I realised recently that collaborations are what it’s all about. You can’t do stuff on your own. It’s really weird that I noticed that and then started to work on a solo project. But I think that it opened up the stage for more collaborations for me personally. Given that the pandemic is raging, it’s a bit weird at the moment, you need to just find ways around it.
For gigs and updates, check out the official Ryan Meeking’s Instagram.
Check out “Endless Run” below:
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