R&B Pop Artist Ryan Whitman Talks With TMI About His Empowering Debut Track “If You Really Want To”

Your new single, If You Really Want To has an amazing message for your supporters and it’s gaining a great reaction from them. What has been your thoughts about the reaction of the new single?

I’m really thrilled with how people have been taking to the new single, it feels like a wonderful first step into this EP. The song is resonating with people, and the word I keep hearing is it’s bringing people “joy”, which is all I can ask for. My favorite feedback so far has been to the music video, someone told me “watching it just takes me away, all my work and worries just melt away, and I feel like I can do anything”, that really meant a lot to me.

Can you tell us the meaning behind If You Really Want To?

I wrote “If You Really Want To” halfway through the recording process in response to seeing more and more people openly judging other people’s life choices in negative ways. The message of “If You Really Want To” is that it’s important to not only live your truth, but to also let others live their truth as well.  

How did the idea for this song and video come about?

This song came about after I read an article about a mother who refused to let her son get a butterfly painted on his face at a fair because “he was a boy and butterflies were for girls”. I started thinking of all the times I’ve heard people say “I wish I could be ok with…” or “I wish I was comfortable enough with myself to…” and I just went to the piano and started writing. It’s a plea that if we want a brighter future we have to let people be true to themselves and come together as a worldwide community in the spirit of love and acceptance. As for the video, I wanted to show people from all different walks of life coming together as community. Everyone you see in the video is a personal friend, and it was so fun getting them all together under one roof. Lots of new friendships were made that day.

This single is the first single off your debut EP, Body Heat, set to drop on June 22. What’s the meaning behind the name “Body Heat”?

“Body Heat” is the name of a track on the EP that I felt really embodied the collection of songs, and what I wanted people to take away from the EP. Body Heat is about confidence, it’s bold, makes you want to dance and feel like your best self, like you got it going on. What better way to introduce yourself to the world, right?

Any fun moments while creating the EP?

The whole thing really feels like a fun moment in time. My producer for the EP, Nate Martinez, and I had a lot of fun in the studio taking my demos and elaborating on the sounds, piecing together which songs went well together. It was a wonderful experience.

What’s the theme for this EP?

There’s a lot of different forms of relationships on this EP, there’s a lot of longing, a bit of heartbreak, a bit of anger, and also a bit of wonder spread across the tracks.

What’s been your favorite song to write & record and why?

That’s a hard one. I’d probably say “Body Heat”. This song came about differently than most of my songs. It started as a joke in a choir rehearsal. Someone asked “why is it so hot on this stage?”, someone called back “it’s the lights” and another voice rang out “it’s the body heat”, and I said “Body Heat sounds like your first solo song when you leave your boy band”. A friend asked what it would sound like, and “Body Heat” was born! Due to its heavy focus on the beat, the demo I made was very stripped down, so it was so fun to record it fully and hear it come alive. What started as a joke has now become one of my favorite songs.

What song are you most excited to perform from this new EP?

All of them! I would probably say “If I Believed” and “Same Songs”. I think I’m excited to perform these live since they’re not singles people will be familiar with right off the bat, but I think people will gravitate to them. Also because we may have a little surprise in “Same Songs” at my release show. The release show will be at Rockwood on Stage 2 at 8pm on June 25th. I would love to see you there!

What does it feel like to perform your own music live in front of your supporters?

It feels amazing! Growing up I always wanted to be a singer and perform for people. I started performing on piano when I was around 6, but once I started songwriting when I was about 12, everything changed. Singing for people is always wonderful, but being able to sing what’s in your heart, with your own words, and connect with people that way is on a whole other level.

Does your fanbase have a name?

They don’t! Should I give them one? Whitmanators haha? I’m open to suggestions!

How do you want your relationship to be with your supporters?

I feel like they’re friends. I share a lot with the people who follow me, they’ll send very nice supportive messages. It feels like a wonderful community growing, and I greatly appreciate all their support.

What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?

I had someone DM me saying they saw me once in the city walking very quickly looking at my phone (I was definitely running late somewhere trying to follow Google Maps). They apparently were in line for Shake Shack and considered getting out to come over and say hi, but were nervous and didn’t want to bother me. I told them they should have! I love meeting people from socials and such, but then again, losing your spot in line for Shake Shack would be tragic.

What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your supporters?

I post pretty frequently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, all at @TheRyanWhitman, but the way I interact with each is very different. Twitter you’re going to get more of my personality and A LOT of GIFs, Instagram is really a look at my day to day life (especially Instagram Stories), Facebook and YouTube are definitely the spot to keep up with video content, and I may be doing some Facebook Live right around the corner, just saying!

What’s an average day for you look like?

In addition to my music career, I work in the music industry. My average day is I go to the gym, have some matcha green tea and maca root to kick off the day, maybe write a little before heading to work for the day, and then after work is where things go up in the air. At night I could be performing, writing music, rehearsing, catching up with friends, out to an event, you never know!

What goals have you set out for yourself in your career and in your personal life?

For my music career my main goal is to reach as many people as I can with my music, and to bring them joy and a sense of understanding. As for my personal life, the goal is simple, to be happy. I always try my best to live the healthiest and happiest life I can.

How has this whole music career experience been?

It’s been crazy, and a lot of work. You set out saying you want to be a singer, then you become the writer, then you become the recording engineer for your demos, your co-producer, you’re your manager, your booking agent, your marketer, your social media manager. It’s really like running your own business, and very empowering to see how all the pieces can come together.

Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?

Thank you all for reading, and be sure to come out to release show, I’d love to see you there! The “If You Really Want To” music video is out now, and there’s lots of fun stuff coming up very soon, so follow me @TheRyanWhitman to stay in the know.

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