RY X recorded his new album, Blood Moon, under lockdown conditions at home in Topanga, California. Blood Moon, RY X’s third album, is a study in ethereality that evokes the likes of Iceland’s Sigur Rós. The artist began the album in early 2020, endeavouring to excavate a whole inner world that is now out there in the wider world.
“It’s quite surreal in a way, how I made this record,” says RY X, aka RY Cuming. “I wrote and produced it, engineered and played every instrument on it. It was a very inward process.”
Cuming kept his in-studio explorations to himself until quite recently. “Some of my best friends just heard the album for the first time because it came out,” he says. “My management and label heard the record when it was done, not before. The process was a beautiful one of exploring this inner landscape of my heart and spirit and exploring new sounds and production and just kind of cracking things open.”
The spiritually-inclined RY X clearly enjoys being in the eye of the creative storm. When he taps into this headspace, there’s no second-guessing, and no externally-motivated filter. “When you’re in that process, you’re not thinking about other people’s approval or understanding,” he says. “You’re just in the process of creation.”
The release of Blood Moon has vindicated the process for Cuming. “I think the most beautiful thing is recognising that I still feel really connected to it. I feel proud of it as a creator and the feedback from it is doubling down on that. It feels like people are deeply understanding the intention and energy,” he says.
RY X – ‘A Thousand Knives’
RY X grew up in Angourie in northern New South Wales. It was an idyllic upbringing, connected to nature and the water. His adopted home of Topanga shares many attributes with the landscape of his upbringing. So, while the album was created at a time of uncertainty in the world, Cuming felt very much at ease.
Though, the unfolding pandemic did influence the songwriting on Blood Moon. “I think any time you’re affected as a human being or you’re in a different place, it affects the work, especially if you’re trying to make the veil very thin between your human experience and your understanding of the existential in the world and your creation. So for me, it inherently changed my life, but it changed my work,” Cuming says.
In addition to writing and recording a new RY X album, living through the pandemic gave Cuming a chance to draw on his spiritual training.
“I did a lot of study on death and impermanence with a teacher called Sogyal Rinpoche in my life,” he says. “So, when moments like that happen, I automatically kind of go to those teachings, which is essentially like understanding our impermanence, understanding that this could be the end and how do we feel about that? Can we find peace in that?”
He goes on, “I think, very quickly, I found that peace and so it didn’t become this fear-based tumbling of uncertainty. It became a beautiful time to start exploring a little deeper and making work from a more centred place.”
RY X – ‘Let You Go’
RY X wrote and produced over 40 songs, 13 of which found their way onto Blood Moon. The final track listing found itself through a series of threads and emotional anchor points.
“There was this emotional anchor point starting off between ‘A Thousand Knives’, ‘Come Back’ and a couple of other songs, which told me how much honesty and gravity that the album was going to have,” he says.
“And then there were these production points on ‘Colorblind’, ‘Borderline’ and the end of ‘Let You Go’ – these points which were pushing the boundary of the production – and it started to shape this world that I could swim in for this sphere of time.”
RY X will spend the rest of the year touring in support of Blood Moon throughout Europe and the US. He hopes to tour Australia in 2023. As someone who values connection to people and place, the fast-moving, fleeting nature of major touring can make for a real challenge.
“It is challenging and, ultimately, if I wasn’t in service to music in the way that I feel in my heart and in a way to try and affect others – the same way that someone like Jeff Buckley affected a lot of us – I don’t know that I would do it, I don’t know that I’d be out there on the road,” Cuming says.
He adds, “I don’t feel like I need to be there for myself and my ego to put some stamp on something Ultimately, I go against a bit of my own grain, to be there, to show up, and to give myself fully for people. I think when you start to build a relationship with an audience and community, you have to at some point, make that decision. ‘Am I going to fully show up for this?’ And it’s my choice to show up.
Blood Moon is out now digitally, with a vinyl/CD release coming on Friday, 26th August.