By Harve Alan
With her big voice, bouncy tunes and fun lyrics, 20-year-old rising pop star Aly Ryan (@alyryanmusic) is a Soundcloud sensation. With millions of downloads for her self-released songs and an ever-growing fan base to her credit, the young phenom plans to release even more sure-to-be-instant hits this summer.
You were born in Germany and now live in L.A. Tell us about your journey.
I grew up in a small town about 20 minutes from Frankfurt. I kinda grew up on the countryside. I had horses and dogs, and was always outdoors. It was before the time kids had phones and all that stuff, we’d spend our time running through the fields and in nature. I think that’s part of the reason I like L.A. so much; it mixes the city and nature, with the mountains and hiking trails. I moved to L.A. in 2014 when I was 16. I always wanted to move to L.A. This is the place. I still feel that way all these years later.
How did you learn to speak English so well?
When I was young, 7 or 8, I was in a children’s choir and they were all singing English and I was lip syncing. Everyone said I should learn English. My dad, who is a musician, would sit down with me and guide me through the words. That’s when I learned to speak the words. The translation came in a little later when I was listening to the music I grew up on—like Bruce Springsteen, Abba and Beyoncé. I would look at the German-English translation and that’s how I taught myself.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Being that my dad is a musician, that really helped me. He would read to me, play tennis with me, and he shared his music with me. It helped me with language and to write songs. And I play sports pretty well, too.
Who are your favorite musical artists, past and present?
The Springsteen-Pink Floyd-Dylan influence was really my dad’s music (classic rock). He is a guitarist, and he would play those artists for me. I really like that kinda folky sound. Later, I would find R&B like Toni Braxton and Boys2Men. I also love country music, older country as well as new country music. The stories are so beautiful. Artists like Tammy Wynette tell great stories. I really like Khaled. He’s doing great stuff. I’m a huge fan of Ed Sheeran, I really like him. Cardi B, The Weeknd and, like, all kinds of music. I listen to whatever feels good.
You have a huge audience on Soundcloud. Your song “No Parachute” has over 11.5 million streams. How did this happen?
Originally I wasn’t going to upload my music to Soundcloud, but I got a tip from someone in the industry who said it was a good place to go. So, I did. It’s where independent music can really take off. After a few months, I was getting messages from people who had playlists who wanted to include my music. I got a lot of reposts and it ballooned from there. At one point it was getting 250,000 spins per day. All my songs together now are still getting a lot of spins. I got to speak to Spotify and they added my song to New Music Friday and I also got featured on Billboard for new music. Everything has been organic.
Tell me about your latest single, “Fans.” After only one month, it is on fire.
It sure feels that way. “No Parachute” got a good reaction and “Fans” is doing even better. I like to send my songs to my friends all over the world for their reaction and this song has been so positive and a great response.
Do you read music?
I do read music. When I started out in music as a kid I was into opera and I learned to read music then. I also play guitar and piano.
What drives you to succeed in the music industry?
You gotta know what you are doing music for. If you are doing it for just fame and money, that’s not going to work. Most people don’t get that famous. Most people don’t make that much money. It’s a love. Often people who are doing it for fame and money give up long before they actually make it because it’s too hard. If you love it, you can’t stop. As cliché as it sounds, it runs in your blood.
Fun activities: Movies, the beach, vintage stores
Actress: Angelina Jolie
TV show: Friends
Movie: The Notebook
Guilty pleasure: Chocolate
Type of food: Mexican
Fashion brand: Louis Vuitton
App: My Diary, Day One