Ryan Vanden Heuvel of Canopy speaks on The Healing Seasons
We all respond differently to loss of those close to us. Some of us respond with melancholy, while others reflect and celebrate the life of those who have gone on. Ryan Vanden Heuval's music brings with it memories from the past and a drive to move forward and rebuild oneself. The Healing Seasons tastefully pairs solemn guitar progressions with catchy synth lines and electronic beats. Dynamic songs take unexpected directions. Reverent ambiance can flash into strong synthesizer driven leads; becoming an analogy for the changing of transcendental seasons.
Merigold Independent: This album, created in remembrance of a family member who passed. Whereas most albums about a passing are sorrowful, your album seems to be uplifting and almost joyous in parts. Could you expound why you took this direction?
Ryan Vanden HeuveI: I didn’t start out writing this record with a specific idea in mind. I feel doing so hinders our creativity in a lot of ways. The uplifting tones for the most part found their way into the songs throughout the writing process and to be honest I can’t really explain why the record turned out the way it did. In retrospect I have found that the passing of that individual was a sort of liberation from sickness. At the time though I didn’t see it that way but I guess one could argue my perspective on the situation sort of “came around”. Looking back it was the best outcome given the circumstances.
MI: The album is titled The Healing Seasons and in your description is about "a journey surrounding the essence of growth and healing." Do you have a philosophy behind this?
RVH: I do in a way. We start out this journey as children believing we can do anything and be anyone, which is true to an extent. When we are young the world seems so big and full of possibilities but we soon grow up only to discover how unfair life can really be. As we age, life seems to build walls preventing us from succeeding, and sometimes life wins leaving us to identify only by our failures. In my mind, the person we are is defined by how we adapt to these types of situations. Change is always happening, sometimes so subtle that we don’t realize it until later on. It’s how we react when our lives change that makes us who we are.
MI: What are some ways you keep on this continuous journey of reinvention?
RVH: It’s not something I really try and do. Things just happen and I take them as they come.
RVH: Being that I write music that’s mostly instrumental, for this release I wanted to expand the dynamics of my music. The footage came from an outside source but the video editing, footage arrangements and concepts came from myself. In the future I would like to do more with music and film. Directing a short film or movie would be something I’d like to accomplish before this project is over.
MI: Is there a meaning behind the videos or are they open to interpretation?
RVH: They are “loosely” based around ideas. Both separate of course but in the end I felt that leaving them open for personal interpretation would allow listeners to create their own space. I hold the same values when writing music, my albums and songs are based loosely around ideas but ultimately it’s up to everyone else to decide what stories they tell. No one song has a specific “identity”, they are whatever people want them to be.
MI: There is a good amount of the use of electronic/computer instruments in this album. Do you generally lay down the foundation with the electronic instruments first, or with analog instruments such as the guitar?
RVH: There are a number of analog instruments on the record as well as electronic software, yes. Honestly though I've never full on used electronic software in music before, so it was a first for me. No single instrument lead the way while writing this album though, sometimes I would have a rhythm pop in my head or I’d accidentally write something on the bass or my guitar and then just went from there. Going into writing this album I decided not to put up any walls or constraints. I sat down and looked at all of the tools I had and said to myself, “Ok, lets make a record.” Five months later, I had The Healing Seasons.
MI: What are some of the most prominent influences in the creation of your music?
RVH: There are a number of different influences that I like to think went into making this record. As far as musical influences, by far the greatest has been Tycho. Though its been a while since I actually discovered his music back in 2011 it wasn't until recently that I really developed an ear for that genre. To be honest it was Tycho's work that opened me up to introducing electronic aspects into my own material. Before that I was completely against anything written that wasn't "organic". It's nice to bring in new elements to what I already know though, doing so keeps the writing process new and full of surprises. Don't get me wrong, I'd still bring my guitar to an island over a computer but I've found an appreciation for modern technology. Other big influences off the top of my head would have to be some, This Will Destroy You, Boards Of Canada, Tool and of course God Is An Astronaut. Those would be just a FEW, I could go on all day. My best ideas come from moments of silence, so I walk a lot. Those are the best.
MI: Any future plans regarding your music?
RVH: I surprisingly do have a lot planned for the future of my music and this project. I would love to put a band together and bring this stuff to a live audience, that's my main goal for next year. I'm already getting things ready so hopefully in a reasonable amount of time I can cross this one off the list. Beyond that, I'd like to write another album for sure, without question. Maybe even directing some sort of short indie film, who knows. I am one man running a project that I want to do so much with. Canopy is so much more than just music, it's a multimedia art outlet that can go anywhere. With all of those things on the table it's hard to say what will come next. What I do know for sure is that I am far from done.