Let me be clear – I was born in a little place called Casper, Wyoming, so I can say in all honesty that my hopes and dreams have always involved recording a kickass album with a killer band and touring the world (and getting the f out of my hometown). Who doesn’t want that? But I realized after I read that depressing but true article that I’ve never focused a whole lot of energy on generating buzz locally, patiently building interest with friends and fans and THEN, getting outta dodge and touring around. Since moving to LA I’ve realized that making new friends and checking out local bands and shows can be incredibly rewarding, and ultimately the thing we’re all trying to achieve: a sense of family. It’s the difference between sitting alone in your room shredding on songs, and writing and playing music with other people injecting their own ideas and influences into the mix. Every day of my life I wish I was in a place like D.C. during the days of Minor Threat and the Bad Brains, or Seattle in the 90’s, in Austin pre-SXSW, or even in New York watching Miles Davis extending his middle finger through bebop, essentially an early form of punk rock, and it bums me out that “music scenes” have somewhat lost that feeling of revolution and togetherness.
That being said, since I did come from a small town in Wyoming, LA is truly a wonderful place. Never before have I been surrounded by so many other musicians and bands and people trying their very hardest to lift all of it up and bring it out. The sheer volume of music and musicians is both inspiring and trying, seeing as how the world of music is incredibly competitive. Just getting people to CARE is a constant battle. Many times at shows, I get a sense that everyone in the crowd goes in with a very critical mindset. I’m guilty of it myself. As much of a bummer as it can be sometimes, I always try to view it as a challenge that can be overcome. Being in a place like LA has forced me to up my game and to keep it up. Some very valuable experiences I’ve had out here have involved spending time with extremely talented working musicians, and seeing what it really takes to thrive out here. Seeing that I don’t have some of those qualities can be rough and sometimes very discouraging, but always a challenge that can be overcome.
Since I’ve only lived in this city for a little over a year, I’m not sure what advice I could offer to people who are considering moving to LA to pursue a music career. At least nothing specific to LA. I can say that no matter where you are, do everything that you do for the love of it. When I lived in Greeley, Colorado while attending the University of Northern Colorado I experienced a music scene that was thriving, something that completely surprised me. Was Greeley well known for its scene? By no means. But I knew that no matter where I went, I would find something that would satisfy my hunger and expand my love for music. I say view your surroundings in that way, regardless of where you happen to be, and you can’t lose. Don’t try to be something you aren’t, keep it fun, and don’t be a dick. The only bad experiences I’ve ever had musically have been when I failed to do one of those things.
Ryan Wykert is the drummer of the fast-rising LA-based rock & roll quintet Ivory Deville. Their new self-titled LP is set for release on December 9 via Kill/Hurt Records. You can pre-order the record on vinyl right here. Check out the eighth track from the album, titled “Drainpipe,” below.