Brit Floyd At Red Rocks: An Exclusive Feature with Ryan Saranich

Brit Floyd At Red Rocks: An Exclusive Feature with Ryan Saranich
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July 30th, 2021
Author: Michaela Allen
Featured photo credit: Ricardo von Puttkammer

Brit Floyd's multi-instrumentalist and Neotech's most tenured ambassador Ryan Saranich invited us to watch the opening show of their 2021 U.S.A tour at Red Rocks Amphitheater, Denver, Colorado on July 29th 2021. Brit Floyd tours internationally with 140-150 shows per year throughout the U.K, Europe, Asia and North America.

The Show

During the middle of Brit Floyd's set, a fellow audience member commented: "One day, rock will just be other bands playing covers of great rock bands."
I replied: "How do you think classical music becomes classic in the first place?"

The crowd's roar of anticipation, accompanied by ambient synthesizers and the gentle moan of an electric guitar, filled the air of the timeless Red Rocks Amphitheatre. It was yet another sell-out concert for Brit Floyd: the car parks had reached maximum capacity at 6.30pm. In the 90 degree heat, we walked up the Will Call Trail, gaining a swift 340ft in elevation, to reach the amphitheatre.

Sipping on my refreshing $14 can of Dark Horse's Sauv Blanc, I recognised the significance of the psychedelic beaded circle which illuminated the stage. The London Eye is the North Star of London, a signpost on the road. As a British person myself, I was transported back to walking alongside the Thames, with the London Eye on my left. At one point, radiant lighting distinctly reminded me of an episode of Doctor Who. The Slitheen in the houses of parliament, who disguised themselves as the British Prime Minister, would project the same neon green lights when they unveiled their true form. (Aliens of London, Doctor Who, S1 Ep. 4, 2005)

Each performer offered us a reminder that music's energizing qualities are indisputable. In her Great Gig In The Sky solo, Eva Avila electrified the crowd with each perfect top A with her flawlessly rich chest voice. A number of Neotech Straps adorned the musicians on-stage: Ian Cattell and Edo Scordo wore our Mega Strap, and Neotech's tenured ambassador, Ryan Saranich, wore our Sax Practice Harness™, Tux Strap™, and Slimline Classical Strap™. From his expert technique on the drums, to ambient drones on the guitar, topped off by his resoundingly beautiful saxophone solo, Saranich's versatility and ingenuity was truly a marvel to behold.

A few weeks ago, I caught up with Ryan to see what he had been getting up to recently, and about all things music.

An Exclusive Interview with Ryan Saranich

Photo credit: Patrick F Kealey

Thank you for meeting with me today Ryan! I'm pretty sure you own more of our straps than any other musician we know at this point.

Yeah, there's lots of Neotech products for me as a multi-instrumentalist, thankfully! I'm really invested in Neotech and OP/TECH USA products. I became a musician when I was 5 years old, and got my first Neotech strap when I was 10 years old, the Soft Sax® Strap. I don't remember why I chose it, but I would put money on it being because of the shiny blue neoprene. This year I'm 34, so it's 24 years of Neotech! I've helped Neotech test and put ideas forth for new products for at least 15 years. I put them through the paces. I have like 12 Shoulder Cush™ pads that I use on my instruments. They're so comfortable, they're grippy on the backside, my instruments don't move around.

My favorite product is definitely the Sax Practice Harness™. Neotech's team were so shocked when I started touring with it. That is my saxophone strap and I bring it to every gig I have. The aluminum bars and memory foam make a super difference in the way I'm able to play and where the weight is on me.

Photo credit: Ricardo von Putkkammer

We're always so grateful for your feedback on our products! You were wearing Neotech pretty much exclusively for your music videos for "Others' Odysseys." Can you tell us more about this?

The Others' Odysseys was my exit from a 5 year writer's block. I hadn't put out music in a while, and I got happy about music again. I put my nose to the grindstone and just did it. My hope was to put another one out this year before we went on tour, but I think it's probably gonna be year's end before it happens. I've been so busy that I haven't been able to put out another record since. I mean, I've worked on a million other peoples' records since then, but not my own. That record was just so much fun to do. For the first time in a long time, I finally had enough life experience to write about.
Eclipse from Others' Odyssey - Ryan Saranich (2018)

Talking of life experience; tell us a little about how you became a musician, and what your journey has been like.

I started music with a gag gift of drums from my Uncle to p*** off my parents, but I come from a musical family, so it's not really a big thing. Music was never forced on us, it was just always around. I had a lot of opportunities to pick up instruments and had a lot of great music teachers along the way. I went to music college twice, UNC Wilmington and then Berklee College of Music in Boston. I knew the president of Berklee quite well, and ended up next to him on a plane one time. I remember he said “I don't know why you're still at school. You just need to go and work. Nobody that you're gonna be on a gig with is gonna ask you for a degree in the field you work in.” I just love education, though, I would go to college for the rest of my life if I could.

That's awesome! You clearly took their advice. Where did you go after college?

After Berklee, I moved to Los Angeles. I really disliked the music scene there and almost entirely made an exit from the music industry. I had a normal day job. LA took me off-guard because I thought there was going to be a lot of in-fighting for gigs, like it is here. The reality is that when I showed up I was out playing gigs with all of my idols every night, and none of them cared about that. They just wanted to play with people. The bad side was that some of the big business people were holding work hostage. At one point, I was asked to be a director for a artist, and the first thing they asked me was “can we have your headshot?” It made sense to get out. I ended up getting called for this gig, and my girlfriend - who is now my wife - said “if you don't do this, you're gonna regret this” because she knew music was a really large part of me. So I did it, and now I'm here, and I'll keep riding this out because I enjoy it. You've gotta have the happiness, right?

Photo credit: Jim Houle

So right! Happiness and health. I've been judged for prioritising those things. People have joked: "are you even a musician?" when I've told them I always get 8 hours of sleep per night. Er, yes? My brain works better that way.

Yep! Me too. 8 hours a night.

You were in New York for a little while too. What was the music scene there like?

New York is not for me, either. I have a pocket of people that I really enjoy playing with, but the way you have to live and move around the city just isn't for me. We live back home in North Carolina now.

Photo credit: Matt Riddle

There's no place like home. However, you're quite the world traveller. How many countries and states have you performed in now?

Between clinics and Brit Floyd, I've played 48 states and 48 countries now. I really enjoy the travel aspect of it. With Brit Floyd it's nice being based in Liverpool in the U.K. On tour, we hit almost every country in the EU. I've been to China like 13 times, and most of the rest of Asia at least a couple of times.

I'm probably at my happiest in a place where there's new food to discover and I don't speak the language. I speak terrible French and about enough Mandarin to order a beer. My favourite place to visit is Norway. We always start our European legs with 7-10 Norway dates, and we do 3 of those above the Arctic Circle. Second to that would have to be basically anywhere in Italy, third would be Switzerland.

What an experience - 48 countries, and you're only 34! This is probably a tough question, but what have your favourite musical experiences been so far?

I always love the opportunity to play Red Rocks. It's one of those bucket list venues, and we're always sold out. Second is Dalhalla in Sweden, which is called the Red Rocks of the Nordic countries. We also had the strange opportunity to play in the Kremlin a couple of years ago on my first tour. Pink Floyd used to be banned in the Soviet Union, so to play that music inside the walls of the Kremlin was wacky.

I have an artist that I work with in Taiwan, Martin Musaubach, who helps me put on a lot of my Asia clinics. Man, he always has the greatest guys and crowds over there, they watch every note that you play! I also just enjoy working with him. He's an Argentinian immigrant living in Taiwan, he and his wife speak 5 different languages. He produces most of China's pop stars.

Amazing! What other projects have you been working on recently, and what's next?

I've worked on selling music into TV and film during COVID, as that was the easiest project to do, basically. Someone represents me and tries to place my music here and there. It's not from the side of “we need this film scored”, it's more like “we need a happy children's song, or a sad children's song.” It can go in a bunch of different places! I do the odd gig with my name on it here and there, but Brit Floyd typically takes up so much of my year that I don't get that opportunity that often. I've been quiet across social media for the past year because I could afford to be. Sometimes, you just need a little break.

The next thing should be the EU and the U.K. I have another gig I've been writing for fun for a while, it's a Steely Dan show as big band. Not changing the style of the music, just expanding the instrumentation. I've been writing it for 3 years and I'm trying to just do it for the hell of it, so I'll probably do that in the fall. I spend a large part of my time travelling around and giving clinics at high school, middle schools and universities for students who want to understand music, or a day in the life of a full-time musician. I'm really looking forward to getting back into it this year.

Want to see more from Ryan? Check out his work here:

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