Amber Ryann isn’t interested in unthoughtful, automated curation, nor is she pacified by the idea that one successful sound should repeatedly satisfy the masses. In fact, Ryann often rejects the resoundingly manufactured and uninspiring nature of mainstream music…opting instead to go digging for undiscovered, idiosyncratic gold.
That’s why Ryann created Underrated Artist Season – a community-driven inclusive platform for fellow up-and-coming artists to display their work and for fans to experience & interact with unfamiliar music.
Twice a week, Ryann hosts live streams via TikTok to showcase music that goes largely unrecognized. And while the alternative singer notes that “everyone’s music is fair game [on Underrated Artist Season],” she goes the extra mile for queer and BIPOC artists like herself to further promote inclusivity and diversity in the industry.
“Not to say that other platforms aren’t inclusive, but the music industry in general exhibits [partiality]. So, as a queer POC woman, I definitely want to champion certain artists,” she explains.
UAS community members of all styles and skill levels can safely submit their work for consideration, be showcased on the platform’s socials, and ultimately assist in manually assembling its massive playlist – creating a burgeoning bevy of little-known yet sonically solid gems.
“We’ve made it known that we’re a safe space – you can join the platform at any stage to present your music, share your ideas, and connect with artists and creatives.
Ahead of the release of her new album, Even When it All Falls Apart, SPIN IMPACT caught up with Ryann to discuss what it means to be underrated vs overrated, how she controls her narrative, and why curation can sometimes hinder creativity.
SPIN: What was the initial motivation behind Underrated Artist Season?
Amber Ryann: Initially, I was just looking to discover new music for myself. You know, one thing I used to love to do is to hop on YouTube and spend hours going down the rabbit hole, finding new music and discovering new artists. But I noticed that it was becoming increasingly harder to do because the majority of platforms naturally curate content for you. And while that’s great, I really wanted to know what was going on with artists creating music out of their bedrooms and underground artists that I’d never heard of.
Do you find that the curated content creates stagnancy in your own creativity?
I feel like it definitely creates stagnancy within my own inspiration, and I felt like I needed to access more inspiring sounds and different artists with different stories and narratives. So, yeah, I do think that curation was hindering me a little bit.
What’s the difference between being an “underrated artist” and an “overrated artist”?
I guess an “overrated artist” is someone who is replicating the same exact sound over and again, or presenting the same projects sonically or otherwise.
There doesn’t necessarily need to be a constant switch-up, but I just think we’re in such an innovative place with music that if you’re going to replicate the same sounds or recreate what you’ve already done, there should be something [new] to take away from it.
There’s a lot of music out there that deserves recognition, and through operating this platform, I’ve come to realize just how much of it sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard.
As someone who identifies as an “underrated artist” and is creating a platform for other underrated artists, who would you say is your competition?
I don’t see competition. I see everyone as adjacent to me, but we’re all in completely different lanes. I’m just painting my own lane, to be honest.
In addition to being an underrated singer/songwriter/producer, you’ve taken full control of your creative output regarding merch, filming, editing, and directing. Why is that?
At first, it was just out of necessity. I didn’t really have an accessible team, especially once COVID hit and we were on lockdown, so I really had to find a way to start creating content regularly by myself. And that just kind of led to me falling in love with filmmaking, video production, editing, and graphic design. But then I quickly realized it was also a way to control the narrative behind my brand and present myself in the way that I feel is best.
Do you have plans to collaborate with anybody that you’ve discovered through UAS?
Yes, absolutely, in many different ways. I’ve already had a couple of artists write demos for me and I’m also planning on producing projects and distributing them through Underrated Artist Season, and those will be with/from the artists that I’ve discovered on the platform.
What are your hopes for Underrated Artist Season?
As of right now, I would love to develop UAS into a full-functioning media house and independent record label – that’s what I’m working towards every day.