By Brittany Plothow
Ryan Innes may have come into the music game a little later than some, but he is definitely making up for lost time.
Originally from Arizona and planning on attending medical school to become a pediatrician, a broken engagement led Innes to Provo and BYU’s music program. A former member of Vocal Point, Innes became a crowd favorite of the Provo music scene, often playing at Velour and other local venues, and securing a residency up in Montage Deer Valley as a performance regular. Innes released his selftitled EP in 2010 and then auditioned successfully for The Voice in 2013.
Turning all four chairs with his soulful cover of John Mayer’s “Gravity,” Innes chose team Usher. Although Innes was defeated in the knockout rounds, he used the momentum from The Voice to his advantage and is now doing music fulltime and making a living.
Innes grew up performing and loving music and the arts. As a youngster, Innes was in the Phoenix Boys Choir, learned to paint from his mother, and wasn’t allowed to play high school sports unless he also played the piano and was active in choirs.
“I had always done music in some form or another but I just never realized you could be an artist, you could write songs, that you could have that kind of involvement with music. I thought it has to be academic or religious,” says Innes. “Being that I was from a super small town and I finally realized, at some point, that I could actually do this [in] a different way. And that’s when I decided to come to BYU and study the Media Music program. And it kind of all started from there. I jumped into it at a different place. And in Provo, specifically Velour, in the Provo music scene, is where I kind of cut my teeth as an artist.”
Innes was in his mid-to-late 20s when he hit the Provo music scene, but he was a quick learner who found his voice (no pun intended) and ran with it. “Starting to identify with soul music and kind of, at 25, 26, 27, I was starting to discover all these things that a lot of people have already known for a long time. So, I was a late bloomer but that’s kind of the journey thus far.”
As a blue-eyed soul artist coming out of Provo, Utah Innes definitely has the upper hand when it comes to possible competition or comparison. Soul music came into Innes’ life when he first heard Boyz II Men and it has led him to the musical path he is currently on. “I was definitely not raised on [soul music], I was raised on, ya know, classical. My mom was big into that. And all the church stuff… And then kind of show tunes, like Sound of Music and My Fair Lady… But I was only listening to the radio for any kind of contemporary styles of music. I did never go to a show, I did never buy CDs, I didn’t really know and follow artists that much. So it was something I didn’t grow up with and I kind of came to discover. Basically when I started hearing Boyz II Men is when it all changed for me.”
In the future, Innes intends to expand his sound while still staying true to what he loves. “There’s still discovery happening with music which is the great thing about the innovation and journey of an artist, but it’s definitely going to always be a soul thing,” says Innes. “I think there’s a lot of different suits to throw in soul music and I’m kind of looking at all those.”
Since his time on The Voice, Innes has been “writing, writing, writing” – preparing for his next move and the release of new music. “I can tell you that 2016 is the year I’ll release another album… It’s going to be eclectic, it’s going to be innovative, but it’s still going to have the familiarity of what anyone has been used to before. So, it’s just kind of going to be a new look or a new suit.”
For Innes newbies, Ryan Innes wants you to feel comfortable. “I really hope that [concert goers] just feel kind of relaxed and comfortable and also I would hope that they felt, maybe were able to feel something… That they walk away feeling it was an experience rather than just a concert.”
Innes’ advice to beginning musicians? Just start. “There’s no cut and dry way to do it, but the only thing that will really work is if you start. Playing music, releasing music, there’s no secret to how it works… Just go, just do. If you’re showing up, and that’s figuratively and literally, if you’re showing up then things will present themselves that will lead to other things, that will lead to other things.”
Provo has been called many things by many people, but it cannot be denied that something is different about the music that comes from Provo and the careers that it launches. Innes thinks that has a lot to do with the community and the musicians. “I think it’s a safe place. There’s not as much competition when it comes to you gotta beat someone or be better than someone. There’s not that scarcity mentality. I think a lot of artists are supportive of each other. I feel like the community is okay with that, like there doesn’t have to be some kind of weird scene war… There’s just enough room for everyone.”
While he wouldn’t mind a record deal from a major label, Innes is simply looking to be fulfilled in his career artistically and financially. “I just want to have the career where I’m in creative control and I’m able to pay for my life, you know? But I do want to do music forever. I want to make my money, I want to make my living, I want to make my imprint on the world through music.”