Interviews

Azure Ryder: healer, storyteller, force of nature

azure ryder

At the heart of Azure Ryder’s music is nature. In fact, it defines her entire creative output. In nature, we can lose ourselves, find ourselves, and heal the wounds often left by the brazen city landscape. It is this frequency that the Sydney songstress captures so eloquently in her melodies.

Singing of love, loss, and hope, her choruses envelop you like a hug, holding enough power to bring out the sun on a cloudy day. She holds the same power in conversation too. In any interaction with Azure, you’re left feeling so much richer just for being in her presence.

With her second EP for this year already hitting the airwaves, we sat down with the artist to learn a little more about the release and her music.

azure ryder

HAPPY: At the start of the year, I saw that you did an amazing interview with Notion Mag. And in that, I saw that you said “to me, every experience of high and low is part of the journey of being an artist and it’s part of life,” which is such a beautiful way to put it. Has your understanding on that journey of being an artist changed since releasing your first EP? 

AZURE: If anything, I think it’s gotten stronger from what I said at that point, especially going through the year we’ve had. I think it’s reiterated those highs and lows, but how important they are in this journey. Not only as an artist but, I think, as people as well. It’s really been something that we’ve had to really face and not hide away from anymore. I think it’s just made me clearer and stronger in wanting that to be a big message that I hope my music gives to people.

HAPPY: It’s been such an interesting time to start up a project. Do you feel that like the energy shift of this year has fed into your songwriting at all and has influenced the music in any way? 

AZURE: Yeah. I mean, again, I’d say it’s just made things that I felt before just stronger and the belief in it is a lot more evident with what’s happened this year. With my songs, my music, and my art, I feel like… because it’s all very important to me that it’s based on personal experience, so everything that I’ve felt through this year will always be put back into my art. I think it’s just fuelled it more.

HAPPY: It’s funny you say that your music’s based on personal experiences because each song comes across so relatable and accessible to a lot of people. Have you received that kind of reception so far? 

AZURE: Definitely, and it’s mind-blowing to me. I mean, that’s obviously the hope, that you’re able to connect to as many people as possible. You know, we’re all human, we’re all going through the same feelings in different ways, and I just wanted to show that it was okay to feel those things. I think there’s no way that not everyone has felt this. It’s just, I guess, people being willing and open to acknowledge them. So yeah, having people connect to my music has been the most heartfilling thing and just makes me more and more determined to keep sharing as much as I can of myself to help people. 

HAPPY: Yeah, totally. Well, I’ve heard that you’ve said that you think of music as a bit of a tool for healing as well?  

AZURE: Yes, definitely. 

HAPPY: Do you feel like, with the songs you’re putting out, that’s really the message that you want to get behind with them? 

AZURE: Definitely and I think, especially going into this second EP, everything I put out has a connection to me and it’s very important to me that each song has that journey through an emotion. I think with this EP, I really wanted to make sure that you could kind of see each stage of that journey. There’s this podcast that I was listening to recently, that Brené Brown did with these two sisters. Did you see that one?

HAPPY: Yeah, it’s so good! 

AZURE: It was one of those moments where I was like… you know when you’re aware of something, but then you finally hear it out loud and you’re like, “oh my god!” It’s that light bulb moment of like, “of course, this is what it is.” So, as you would have heard, each emotion has three stages; the beginning, middle, and end. Most people get stuck in this middle stage and stay kind of stagnant there. And when you’re stuck in that stagnant emotion, it’s just sitting in your body and it’s got nowhere to go. It’s so important that people say their emotions, they feel through it, and then they release it. People are not getting to that release stage, I think. That’s where people struggle to move past it, because they literally aren’t. They aren’t getting to that endpoint, that resolve. With this EP, I hope that people can feel that beginning, middle, and end resolve through an emotion because, you know, we can’t escape emotions, they’re in everything, they’re in all of us. I just wanted to, hopefully, give it to people in a warm and relatable way. 

HAPPY: Was there any specific emotion that you were trying to capture? 

AZURE: These songs are definitely centred around, I guess, past relationships, whether it’s with lovers or friends. I think that feeling is something that’s felt through all things in life. It’s just dealing with it, acknowledging it, letting go, and coming out on the other side. It’s feeling through that tender tunnel and then, eventually, you’re going to see the light at the end of it. But yeah, this EP is that focus on the relationship between the darkness and the light and the idea that we need both. We can’t have one without the other. It’s super important that we give them as much love to each of them. 

HAPPY: Yeah, absolutely. Well, nature appears to be a really amazing catalyst for you and your music, and you’ve got all these beautiful symbols and visuals that go along with that. What role does nature play in your songwriting as well? Do you need space when you want to be creative? 

AZURE: Yeah, nature definitely flows through literally everything I do. Growing up, it was something that I really found a friendship in or a guidance and a support in. So, it was important to me that I gave back to nature what it gave to me. Nature, I really believe, teaches us how to be human. I like to see things in mountain landscapes. Like how you were talking about the highs and the lows, it’s literally in everything. It’s not only in that mountain landscape that we see and we watch in awe, it’s literally inside of us. We have those highs and lows, you see a heart monitor and our heart is going in peaks and valleys. It’s not only externally, it’s internally. So there’s that big reflection of life, I believe, if we actually look to nature. That kind of movement is definitely fed in through my songwriting melodically and through my lyrics. And, of course, I think being out or surrounded in nature is something that will always allow for creativity to kind of flourish and bloom. I was living in London before COVID, but being back in Australia, I’ve been lucky to kind of go up and back to Byron. My producer, Chris Collins, is up there now as well, and he’s in this most amazing place. It’s like overlooking Mount Warning. 

Azure Ryder

HAPPY: Wow! 

AZURE: I call it Magic Mountain [laughs]. Yeah, just being able to be in that space, I think that energy is something you can’t replicate anywhere else. It’s that pure, raw, unapologetic nature and I think if we look more, we can really find ourselves. 

HAPPY: Do you record up there at all? 

AZURE: Yeah, I have. I was actually up there, I just got back like two days ago [laughs]. 

HAPPY: Oh really [laughs]? 

AZURE: Yeah, and me and my producer spontaneously decided to record one of my songs, that won’t be out for a little bit, but it was literally late at night. He picked me up at nine, we went to his place up in the hills. And he’s like, “I’m going to turn on the air conditioning full blast so we can put the fire on,” and it was great [laughs]. It was great until it got quite hot obviously. But yeah, it’s just like a beautiful, unplanned experience. 

HAPPY: I know for a lot of artists who are really connected with space and they need nature to write, they found it a bit challenging having to close everything into the four walls of their home. Were there any ways or tools that you found were really helpful to overcome that? 

AZURE: Definitely. I mean, I feel like we’re lucky, in general, in Australia during this whole situation and I feel very grateful to have been able to come back to a home which was pretty close to the beach. I would always make sure I had those little things in my routine that were able to still connect me to nature. I would go on a morning walk up to the headlands and just sit up there for a little bit, yoga, all that stuff. Just things that connect you or just make you fall back into your body, because it’s super easy to sit stagnant, looking at the four walls. But, if we try and figure out how we can move within them, I think that we can get through things a lot better than we think we will. 

HAPPY: Your first EP came about from some writing sessions with the incredible Isabella Summers and Natalie Henby. Could you paint a picture of that process? 

AZURE: Oh well, working with such incredible women and humans was so crazy, especially so early on. I’m still quite shocked that I was able to be in rooms with such amazing people. Isabella Summers is the craziest, most amazing individual. Just being in that room with her is just the wildest energy, but the best thing. I’m just very grateful that I got to be in those spaces with them and I feel like they really allowed me to be as open as possible. 

HAPPY: Was that over in Nashville? 

AZURE: Isabella Summers was in London, but I had my most favourite trip to Nashville. Nashville is like my home. As soon as I got there, I’ve never felt as at home in a place as I did there. I just instantly felt such a warmth and this sense of community as well, not only within the actual community but in the creative space. The people I was lucky enough to work with, Trent Dabbs, Gabe Simon, I just instantly felt their passion. They were so open, so passionate. I have felt I’ve always wanted to create, but I struggled to find those people a lot earlier on. So, to now have made those connections, I just feel very lucky to build those relationships with likeminded people that feel that same fire that I do. 

HAPPY: Nashville seems to have that power, doesn’t it? 

AZURE: [Sighs] Incredibly! I was always told before going, “you have to get to Nashville. I think it’s really going to be for you.” Obviously, I was so excited but a part of me was like, “what if it’s not going to be for me?” So I was really trying to just go in and see what happened, but it surpassed my dreams like tenfold. I can’t wait to be back there. You know, obviously we have no idea when that’s going to happen, but I wrote so many things I’m super proud of there. I know that I need to go back to finish the rest of that, because I think it was the first time, as well, I really became super confident in my vision as an artist and my songwriting abilities as well. I have a lot to thank Nashville for.

HAPPY: I’d love to talk about your music videos for a bit because you’ve got this beautiful simplicity to them. You don’t oversaturate anything, it’s one setting, one outfit and you just do it so perfectly and so beautifully. What draws you down this visual direction? 

AZURE: Again, it’s nature. Nature has a massive part to do with it because it’s made me who I am and, I guess, the values I have, or the visions I have very much reflect that. I think that there’s so much beauty in simplicity and space, so I try my hardest to reflect that because, at the end of the day, I want people to see this and see me. In watching those videos, what you’re seeing is purely me and who I am. That’s not a persona or just a side of me. That is me in my entirety. It’s been amazing to be able to have the chance to do or show all of that. 

azure ryder

HAPPY: Yeah, totally. Do you ever find that you have a particular catalyst or guiding force when it comes to choosing a stylistic direction in your work, whether that be in your painting or your music or anything?  

AZURE: I find real inspiration in the artists and the art that shows that raw purity and you can see the authenticity in it. For me, my biggest inspiration is Stevie Nicks. She is the ultimate artist and human. I feel like, on and off stage, she has such a mystic presence and you can see that everything she presents is herself. Her voice is so distinctive and it speaks to you because it’s just so pure and raw, I believe. I wanted to be able to bring that through my work and I hope that I do it somewhere near the justice that she does. I hope to create at that level.

HAPPY: You’ve got the new EP out, is there anything else that you’ve got on the horizon? 

AZURE: Yes, so the EP’s out and then, two weeks after, my first liveshow

HAPPY: Ah, that’s so exciting! 

AZURE: I’m still struggling to believe that it’s happening. I think once I’m in rehearsals, I’ll be like, “okay, it’s legit.” I’ve seen so many incredible people at Oxford Art Factory and to finally be on that stage, like I’ve got such incredible body tingles just thinking about it. Again, being in Australia through this, we are so much further ahead in terms of life and all that sort of stuff, then the rest of the world. So, I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be in that space because I want to make sure that I’m giving everyone every little piece of myself to, I guess, bring them into that high that I feel in creating and I feel in life. Live music is something you can’t replicate in any other place. I feel like it’s the place where you can be your most free and open and everyone’s on the same wavelength. There’s just nothing like it. So, to begin that process is so exciting. 

HAPPY: Well, thank you very much for the chat. I’m looking forward to the new EP. 

AZURE: Thank you! 

 

Crazy With The Light is available on all streaming platforms. 

Photos by Maria Louise