RYDYR, the solo project of pop-rock musician Cole Pendery, strives to give his listeners truth through meaningful music and art and symbolizes being transparent to the process and embodies truth but also provides him a vehicle to step out of himself. He explores the duality in his music of past and future, ups and down and good and bad. He has dubbed his sound ‘new nostalgia’, in that it’s a sound one has heard before, but at the same time it is new. It combines light and dark and modern and natural elements. Born in a small town outside of Dallas, Pendery was drawn to music at a young age, influenced by bands such as Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Earth, Wind & Fire, Styx, Good Charlotte, Lil Wayne and Drake. He discovered his voice at a young age and became the president of his school’s choir in the 8th grade, inspiring his family to relocate to LA so that he could pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He was quickly discovered by a talent scout, booking gigs on the Disney Channel and ultimately becoming a founding member of the pop boy band IM5. By the age of 20, he had gained valuable experience that would help him going forward. Pendery found himself ready in 2018 for a new musical direction. Writing songs throughout 2018 and 2019 for his debut EP, he also founded his own label Shadow Wood Records as a way to release his music. An homage to the backwoods trail—Shadow Wood Road—that his “creative and eclectic” grandfather built a house at the end of, he ultimately builds a platform for himself and other artists to flourish. His mission is to write meaningful music and connect with intention. He chose the name RYDYR, a palindrome of his mother’s maiden name, as a way to be transparent. It signifies how he is the same inside and out, striving to be as authentic as possible as an artist. Today sees the release of the new RYDYR single “Dream Alone”. Upheld by finger-picked acoustic guitar, a snappy beat, and fluttering harmonies, “Dream Alone” is about an internal dialogue with the latest version of himself, showcasing fluttering harmonies and vocals that stretch from vulnerable verses into a hummable hook, “I dream alone.” The first single off his 2020 EP, the forthcoming collection will feature bold and bright pop, offset with alternative adventurousness and timeless rockstar ambition, rooted in live instrumentation and unfiltered lyrics. You can follow RYDYR and stay up-to-date with all upcoming music, artist and tour news, as well as stream and purchase his music, via the following links. Check out the new single below. Photo credit: Ashley Osborn.
As a child you found your voice and developed a desire to launch a career in entertainment and inspired your family to move to LA from Texas. What was that like for you and your family, moving from a small town in Texas to LA? Did you fall in love with LA instantly or were there challenges adjusting to big city life?
Great question! Actually no. I was in love with LA. The first time I went, I knew it was where I was supposed to be. I told my dad and when we were flying back to LA the second time, when we were thinking “Ok, maybe we’re going to live here”, and we had just passed through the clouds on our descent into LA, I was like “Dad! This is my city!” (laughs). I definitely loved it. The transition was…it all happened so fast and it was all so exciting. It really was prefect timing because my sister had just gone to college, so she was kind of spreading her wings and becoming independent, and I was just transitioning from middle school to 9th grade high school. I was about to switch schools anyways, so it was the perfect opportunity to try it out. We were just going to do kind of a year long trial to see if anything happened, and stuff did happen. I’ve been out here for about ten years. It’s crazy!
It wasn’t too long after you moved to LA that you were recruited and helped to form the pop boy band IM5. What was it like for you to dive headfirst into the music industry at a really young age? What do you feel you learned about yourself and the industry as a result of being in that band? How has that helped you in your career now?
I think that I learned an amazing amount of things in that process. We got to tour and perform and learn how to write and produce, so instead of going to high school, I got to be in that group. It really taught me everything. It taught me that I love this art form and this medium of creating music and speaking to people that way. Music is the universal language and I really saw that. I also got to see that there are a lot of people out here trying to do it in different ways, and some of the stuff is more of a manufactured process. It taught me that I want to be a little more authentic and real and not really take a lot of demos. I wanna be the one writing my music and I just learned an insane amount and would never trade that experience for anything. I’m really glad that it’s gotten me to where I am now.
Along the lines of being authentic in your life and your music, have you ever found it challenging to be authentic in LA, because everyone is hustling and trying to make it. As with any city, there are people who aren’t very authentic. Did you have people trying to push your music into directions you didn’t want to go?
Totally, yeah. When the group ended, there was kind of an option I had with people who were like “Hey. Cole Pendery is now going to be a brand. We’ll take you solo and take on these demos.” That was the moment where I was like “You know what, no. I really need to kind of find myself right now. It was a big journey I just took and I really don’t want to dive in that way”. It’s all about ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’, so I feel like there are always going to be those people wherever that are just in it for themselves and are trying to use and abuse and are not authentic. I just think the first thing that’s important is finding your authenticity, and then once you are really grounded in who you are and your morals and just everything, it becomes easier to collect the people in your life that you really want to be there. You can quickly see who is meant to be there and who is in it for the right reasons. It’s been a big learning process but I wouldn’t trade it.
You also formed your own studio, Badpink, out of your home and recently formed your own record label, Shadow Wood Records, as a way to release your music. What led you to create your own studio and record label? Was that part of your goal to do things your way, without the outside pressures coming in?
Totally. I think that it makes everything a lot easier, to be honest (laughs)! The studio just kind of just fell into our laps when we were looking for a house out here. We were renting apartments out here for a couple of years, then realized we going to be here longer than just a year. In the house hunt, we found a home that had a beautiful secondary building that’s a full on professional studio that the guy who lived here before us built. That was kind of a godsend that fell into our laps, since at that time I was learning engineering and production. It was a real beautiful thing that just kind of happened. In more recent years, I opened it up to different artists and people who want to come in and rent it out. It’s a nice little business for me. We’re planning to do a lot of different content things coming out of there. I wanna do a lot of almost a BBC Radio One Live in studio session type things in there. Definitely be on the lookout for that in the coming months. It’s been a work in progress, but we’re almost there. I wanna call on a lot of my artists friends and just whoever wants to come to perform a couple of songs and we’ll throw that stuff up. That’s my kind of studio life. Shadow Wood Records has been a new baby in my life, as well. Learning how to run a label has been very fun and interesting. It’s another kind of thing where the music industry is very interesting and weird and labels are instruments for certain things. We just had the ability to make this company and at the end of the day it’s about maintaining ownership of the music and writing and doing things our way. We now the option to sign other artists if that ever is the case, if there’s anyone I feel is an unrepresented and real, true authentic artist. I would definitely maybe want to approach them at some point and say “Hey. Would you like to join this Shadow Wood team?”. As for now, RYDYR, my project, is going to be the first one to put out music through Shadow Wood and it’s going to be a guinea pig process. I have amazing people around me that are helping me with this launch and helping me form Shadow Wood, so I have all of the excitement in the world for it. I’m just really happy with it.
You describe your sound as ‘New Nostalgia’. How did you go about developing your sound and incorporating the more modern and natural elements into that sound?
It’s fun, because I’ve been coining that phrase for a couple of years now and Due Lipa is coming out with an album called Future Nostalgia. I’m like “Alright, I don’t know who told her my stuff?” (laughs)! It’s inspired by me really reflecting on the music that truly made me growing up..a lot of the old classics and the more raw kind of rock and roll music, with real analog instruments. Fleetwood Mac, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Earth, Wind and Fire…just all of these old groups that their tone sounds and ways of creation are very different from what we are hearing on our Top 40 right now. I really wanted incorporate some essences of that music I really, truly grew up on with what’s happening today. That’s kind of where that new nostalgia term came from. It’s about blending those worlds. I really want the listener to feel like they connect with the music already, like “Ah, something about this feels nostalgic and timeless”, but also at the same time they’ve never heard it before, or something like this before. That’s the hope with the music.
You have talked about wanting to get into acting, as well. How have you gone about trying to achieve that goal for yourself? How do you see the connection for you between music and acting and juggling the two?
What initially brought me out to Los Angeles was the pursuit of acting. I knew I could sing and love to do that, as well, but I really wanted to act. When I first got out to LA, I had a couple of jobs on Disney Channel and then I got a job on Criminal Minds, which was my favorite show at the time. That was really exciting! Then I fell into the music, and that took me for a few years. Right now, I do have acting representation and an acting manager and am still auditioning and sending in some self tapes and things like that. Who knows? We’ll see if in a few months I get a big role. At the end of last year I was in a play that got some critically acclaimed quotes. It was a really powerful play called Famous- The Live Experience. I was really proud to be in that show. We also filmed that as a film, or as a movie, that’s going to be coming out, I dunno, maybe sometime this year. Juggling both is fun. As far as overall careers, they are only going to help each other out. If the music does well, that will maybe get me more shots at acting and vice versa. It’s kind of similar to Jared Leto and his very prestigious acting career, but he also has 30 Seconds To Mars as a music platform, or with Donald Glover and Childish Gambino. Those are the two that I really wanna model my career after.
Being a musician, as well, do you see yourself ever writing and scoring music for film and incorporating your music into film?
Yes! That’s actually a really, really big interest I have! A lot of my music is very kind of storytelling and cinematic. When I’ve shown some people some of my newer songs, they’ve said they could see it in a movie trailer or something like that. Some of the music I have could definitely lend itself to that sort of thing. Also, at the same time, you mentioned a great point…I really do want to study film scoring a little bit more and just kind of the sounds of the film. I also want to write movies and just be an all around creative person. I think that bringing the music into film is something that I am really excited about learning and studying more. I think it will only help my understanding of both lanes even more. I was filming a music video not too long ago, and the director, who’s a good friend of mine, was saying that a music video is the equivalent to scoring a movie. The music brings the movie to life, but then the music video brings the song to life. I really like the way he put that and I kind of see it like that too. It’s definitely something I’m interested in doing!
Your new single “Dream Alone” is described as being about an internal dialogue with the latest version of yourself. How do you feel that you have grown as an artist with your new music?
I think that I just want to be real and authentic with my music, so these songs were kind of about what I was going through the past couple of years. “Dream Alone” is that kind of internal dialogue, not even necessarily with the new version of myself…sometimes it can be that…but it’s with the version of yourself that is your inspiration. It’s almost like the devil and angel on your shoulder, where you are always having this kind of internal debate. You could do the thing you know is probably better, but you also just chill today. You could be motivated or you could just give into whatever. It’s kind of like that conversation and that kind of voice that screams out to you like “Yo! You have a much bigger purpose here, so fulfill that”. That’s kind of the story of “Dream Alone”. With the music, I think I’ve just grown so much as a person and understanding who I am and what I truly believe in. I think that I’m continuing to grow and that the processes are getting faster and better and smoother, so I’m really excited to release this stuff and then start creating my next project and next wave of music. I feel like the story is just starting so I’m really excited!
You will also be releasing your debut EP this year! What can you tell me about the process of making the EP? What was it like for you to record the album at MDDN Studios with Zakk Cervini?
That experience was really, really cool. Good Charlotte was one of my favorite groups growing up, so to be in their world creating was really cool. You step out of the booth and see Benji and Joel in their office and are just like “What’s up guys?” and then walk into the mixing room like “Holy shit! Is this my life right now (laughs)?” That was a really cool moment. It was kind of a big thing too, when I went in there. It’s kind of a pressure, as well. You have your heros in there and know they’ll be listening to your stuff. I remember going into the sessions and just knowing what I had to offer and what my capabilities were and just went in there and was a vessel. Sometimes when I write a song, I’m like “Damn! Did I just really do that?”. I just open up and let whatever just kind of speak through me…God or whatever you want to believe in kind of happens and that shit never lets you down. So that was really cool and really made me step up and own the moment and prove it to myself that I’m really supposed to be doing this and can do it, so that was really cool. I think it just took my whole process to the next level.
Did your songs change much during the process of recording? Were they close to finished before you went into the studio or did some of them change during the process of recording?
A majority of the songs were just kind of created in there. I really didn’t have demos of the music that I tweaked. I had worked on a lot of music and I had demos, but when I went into the studio with Zakk, we just wanted to just create stuff from scratch. With each song we created, we started to understand each other’s rhythm and dynamic. Each song just became a little more seamless during the creation period. Each song has it’s own journey and some songs…like “Dream Alone” was written and we had the main structure and skeleton and lyrics done within 30 minutes to an hour. It’s really exciting when something like that happens, whereas with a couple of the other songs, we had a really solid chorus and the track sounded good but I just really couldn’t nail the verses, so it would maybe take two weeks to solidify those songs. We just went from scratch and really just bounced ideas really well off of each other. He was a great creative partner.
What’s next for you? What do you have coming up?
These releases are the next big and exciting thing. I’ve been sitting on these songs for a little over a year now, so I’ve just really been trying to plan out all of this stuff and give them the best shot they can get because I truly believe in this music a lot. The videos that accompany them are really exciting, so I’m just trying to get that stuff out there. And then performing. I have a show scheduled in LA, which is exciting, but after that I really want to hit the road and at least hit a couple of cities on maybe an Ep release thing. I don’t know. None of that is planned yet, but I’m itching to make that happen. We’ll see. Performances are going to happen and new music. I want to get back in the studio ASAP and keep writing. I have a lot of ideas right now. My voice memos on my phone are full right now with song titles and choruses and verses, so once I take that into the studio, I think we’re going to have a lot of good music coming out.
Awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me!
Of course! Thank you for being interested and for wanting to ask me some questions!