It's a little after 4:30 pm on Wednesday November 4th. I'm sitting in Phoebe Ryan's green room at the Observatory in Santa Ana, California. I'm with her tour manager, Luke. We chat about music, how he got started in the business. He checks his phone for a response. Phoebe should be up from the tour bus any minute. I prep my phone to record the interview.

I start to have second thoughts about not writing down my questions ahead of time. I wanted the conversation to lead the questions, not the other way around. Too late. Phoebe Ryan enters the room. We introduce ourselves. Luke leaves. She sits down on the plush, leather couch across from me. Her smile is warm. But this is only my second in-person interview. I hope she can't tell I'm nervous. I take a gulp from my water bottle.

So, to start things, you know, tell me a little about where you're from. We're in Orange County; are you from California?

No, actually I was born in Dallas and I grew up in New Jersey, on the Jersey shore. So, now I'm on a different shore. I'm on the beautiful shores of LA. Just hanging out, West Coast style now.

Nice! So, how was growing up on the East Coast, in New Jersey? Did you go to New York a lot?

Yeah, I went to New York a lot. And even growing up, as a kid, I was always like, "Oh, my dad works in New York City, so I would love to live in New York City and work there too, like him." You know, be able to go to the beach on weekends and stuff and work and - I don't know. Something about that dynamic, about the beach being included in the work ethic.

Have you been able to go to the beaches here? I know it's a little cold.

Umm, well, so I've been living in LA for almost the past two years and like, I've been able to go to the beach a lot.

That's nice you still get that.

Yeah, but the past year I haven't really been home at all.

Yeah, you've been touring pretty non-stop.

Yeah, it's been so nuts. So, I haven't been back in LA that much so...

But it's always got to be fun touring? I mean, I know there's always pros and cons with that.

There's always pros and cons. So far the pros are definitely outweighing any of the cons. So, it's like, all smiles over here.

Well that's good, totally. And, so, everyone has their own story of how they got into music. You know, they have a family member who was really into it and stuff. Do you have a similar story? A family member or someone else who influenced you?

Umm, no one- no one in my family really, uh, was pursuing music. Everyone was so creative. Like, my mom was an artist. And my dad and my brothers are all super artistic, too. And, we were just, like, really encouraged to be creative from a very young age. And just like, pursue that all the time. And I guess, somehow, it just translated into music for me? And, yeah!

But that's good that you had that sort of back bone there. Sometimes when people want to pursue something creative or in the arts, it's kind of hard to get that support from people.

Oh my gosh, yeah, I can't even imagine having the kind of parents that... if I didn't have supportive parents, what would I be doing right now? I just can't even imagine.

You'd be working a day-job like me.

Where do you work?

We chat about my day job. How I went to school for singing and then switched to Creative Writing. How I'm just trying to find something permanent. That I'm passionate about.

Well you know, you're doin' it, you're doin' it. Look at you here, right now.

Yeah, yeah, very true.

You are, we are! We're doing it here, right now.

Yeah, I mean, as soon as I saw this opportunity, I jumped on it. As soon as I found out I was covering the show I contacted your PR rep and said, "Hey Nancy, can you set this up?"

Heck, yeah.

So, you've been doing music for a long time now. And, I remember researching that you used to write songs for other people. Is that how you got into the music industry?

Yeah, so, I still am very active in writing songs for other artists. Um, it's kind of just like, the half of what I do. I feel like, it's just, providing songs for other people.'Cuz I- 'cuz I love singing songs and performing for other people and explaining myself and, uh- What is it even called? Like, not explaining yourself onstage, it's like, just being on stage and sharing my songs on stage, sharing you and that like personal stuff with the world. But on the other hand, I love just being a studio rat and just sit in the studio, for like, hours and hours and just think about what songs could go to what artists. And just like, what style.

Do you approach the writing styles differently? Like, do you say, "This is going to be towards this type of artist and this is going to be for me?"

Usually, no. Every once in a while there's like a cloudy, a cloudy vision, or whatever. But usually I have a pretty good intention set. Like, "Today, I'm walking into the studio and I've got to write a song for myself." Or, "Today, I've got to write a song that hopefully, someday, Justin Bieber will sing." . Or just like, anyone...I say Justin Bieber because that's all I've been listening to.

Ah, yeah, all of his new stuff.

Yeah, it's so good.

SO you started off with writing songs for other people. Were other people like, "Hey, you're really good. You want to do your own?" Or did you always have the intention of doing your own stuff?

It was funny because I was writing for other people for a while. And then, everyone was like, "You are an artist. What are you doing writing songs for other people?" And I was like, "No, I'm just, I'm a songwriter. I'm comfortable. I'm fine, whatever." And, like, I always had it in the back of my mind. And then one day I was just like, okay, it's time to do this. No more nonsense. I really have to make this happen. So, yeah.

Nice. I feel like a lot of bands I cover are more rock set up- bass, guitar, drums, vocals. Um, when you go into the studio for recording, I know for pop, it's a lot different.

Oh, it's a million percent different.

Okay, so like how do you- when you go into the studio are you thinking about lyrics first? Are you thinking about the beat? Or just, whatever happens, happens?

It's kind of a free for all. Like, sometimes I'll walk in and I'll have a word or an idea. And somedays- I would say most of the time my producer will throw a track on or a beat, or start building something from scratch. And, then that kind of just inspires words. But, it really is just, whatever happens, happens. We just chase the good feeling of it all, I guess.

Nice, nice. So, do you play any instruments at all? Or do you just sing?

Yeah, I mean, I play guitar and piano a little bit. And I just got a ukulele. And I used to be real good at ukulele. But, I stopped for years. So, I just picked one up, so now I'm just trying to get back into it. Just because it's way easier to travel with a ukulele on the road than a drum set.

Oh, do you play drums?

I mean, I can physically hit them. So, it doesn't sound good, so, I can play them- but I cannot play them at all. So, no, no drums for me. Just- I grew up guitar and piano.

Well that's still good! Um, so when you're in the studio, you're going in recording, get the track down, "This is awesome." Have you found, now that you've been touring a whole bunch, there's things in the studio that work great. But then when performing live there's difficulties or the band has difficulties? I've had some bands where I listen to their record and it's awesome, but then when they try to reproduce it live...

That's interesting. I haven't really thought of that before. I think- I think the one thing that gets me hung up is- I'll be performing and in the middle of a song, I'll look out and there'll be some nights where no one is moving. No one is dancing. And I'm just like, "Why am I not a DJ right now?" Everyone could be having so much more fun. These people look miserable. But, maybe they're not? Maybe they're just listening to me singing? I'm just like, "Why couldn't I be puttin' out the bangers right now?" And people would be going nuts. And that's something that's just like a personal hang up, or whatever. But it's like, do you know what I mean?

Oh, I completely understand what you're saying.

Thank you!

Oh! So, recently I saw you get a little shout-out from Taylor Swift. What was going through your head when you saw that? Well, ow did you find out about it? Did you see it first? Or did somebody else tell you?

Somebody texted me. When she posted it, it was late on the East Coast. She posted it and I got a text message from someone I've known since middle school...someone I've known forever. And they just sent me a picture and I looked at it. And I was just like, "Is this like, an app?" Like an app that gives you false hope? That tells you Taylor Swift is writing nice things about you? So, I saw it and I immediately went to Instagram and saw that it was real, that she actually posted it. And I shut my phone off and went to bed. Because it was like, tomorrow when I wake up, it's going to be like Christmas. Everyone's going to be texting me, so excited...So yeah, that was really, that was wild.

I can only imagine seeing that. That's awesome.

Yeah. I still have to meet her, though.

Oh, you still haven't met her?

No, still haven't met T-Swift. I really want to meet her.

I'm sure you can get someone to set that up.

Yeah, got to get someone to hook that up.

And maybe do a collab?

Yes! I would love to write with her. She's amazing.

She is. She's constantly putting out new music.

Her music is top notch.

So um, you've heard of Grimes, right?

Yeah, totally.

So, she's- she's just put some new stuff out, new album dropping soon. She's one who you could also consider a "studio rat"-

She's just phenomenal.

Yeah, and she's just always in there and cranking out new tracks. And just knows everything there is to know about music- write, produce, record, and everything like that. But, I know that sometimes, there's a stigma attached when it's a female who's doing it. She mentioned guys will come in and offer their assistance without her asking. Have you ever experienced that? That people said, "Oh this is really good for being...a girl."

Yeah, I mean...It's- It's so hard because I can't lie, I see it- I see it happening all the time. And, um, it's just like...I feel like we're getting so close to a place where we don't need to have conver- Well, not conversations about this, because we should always be talking about it. Like, I cannot wait 'til we're there. Do you know what I mean?

Mhmm! Oh, I completely understand.

I mean- I hope I'm answering this right. We just need more women like Grimes. And like, that are just, open and badass. And, like, take a stand. I don't know. I just really respect her and all the other badass ladies that be doin' it. I mean, I grew up with two brothers. So, I feel like if there's any time where dudes are giving me shit- I'm just like, "Shut the fuck up, man.". Like, "Who are you? Why are you talking to me like that?"

And that's good.

So I kind of have like, a weird tomboy thing. Where I'm like, "Oh, this dudes, like, threatening me? Well, fuck him!" I mean, I don't know. We just need more badass ladies out there. I mean, there's so many out there, but maybe they're not speaking up. Maybe, dudes just need to chill for a second.

I agree. And like, I've grown up doing music my whole life. And I'm first to admit, I don't know the first thing about recording. And I'm not going to pretend to...And, thanks for answering that. I just wanted to get your opinion because it's something, I think, is just really being talked about. Even with the new Joanna Newsom album and stuff...

I know, it's just so sketchy. And like, in terms of being in the studio and stuff, and having a guy say, "Oh, you can't do this. Here let me do it", I'm like, eh. I've also been told that by women. I'm just like, I just want whoever is best for the job. If you know how to push that button better than I do, then do it. I don't care if you have a penis or a vagina. Just like, just do your job the best you can do it and who cares if you're a guy or a girl. Just do it.

Honestly, that's a great outlook to have.

I feel like that was a crazy answer.

No, that was perfect, are you kidding?

I feel like my answer was here and went all around in circles.

No, no, not at all. Trust me.

So, with being on tour, where have been some of your favorite places been? Have you played any places you haven't gotten to perform at before?

Yeah, I've never been to like the center of the country. Like, I was literally in the heart of America and it was crazy. Like, Kansas City and Des Moines, it was beautiful out there. Like the land is so beautiful and the people are so nice. I'm just like, it's insane I haven't been out here before. Like, every little town and city has its own heart. The heart of America.

I haven't been to the heartland. But I can understand that.

Oh, my gosh, the people out there are so nice. Like, I can't even tell you...It's not like New York where they spit at your feet. They really are lovely people.

Oh, you don't have a good hometown crowd?

Oh! I love the hometown crowd! I'm not trying to shovel out the hometown crowd; they're always my favorite. Tonight and LA are going to be great. East Coast stuff was amazing.

So you just mean like the overall attitude of that general population?

Yeah, yeah, totally. It's funny. This is my first tour where I've really gone all over the place; except the northwest. I guess we didn't really go there. But, I just went up there on my tour in September, so I'm really seeing a lot of places right now.

I know that you have your EP out now. Are you working on the full length?

Working on the full length, 100 percent.

Has touring affected those songs or what you're writing?

Well, I had a batch of songs done before the tour. And, we have pretty much narrowed down our favorite ones. And, I'm about to be writing for the next three months and have another batch of songs. And we're going to pick the best of those. And then just picking the best of the best and make the greatest record of all time.

Sounds good. Well, I'm definitely looking forward to it.

I'm so excited. It's going to be the best. I can't wait.

With touring and meeting other bands and musicians, have there been any tricks you've learned? Things you seen or heard them do and think, "Hey that's really cool, I can use something like that."

Totally. I mean, just like, being on the road with people for weeks at a time and hanging with them every day in such weird circumstances, I've picked up just so many little things from everybody. Like, even in September, when I was touring with Say Lou Lou, learning things about being an artist and representing yourself as a female on stage. And like, how to answer certain questions. Do you know what I mean? Like when they ask, "So what's your favorite make up?" Like, you don't have to answer that question. Don't you ask that now!

Oh, no no, hah.

So, Say Lou Lou helped me with that. And being on tour with Smallpools has like- you see the energy they give to the crowd every night. And I aspire to that, so much. To just be like- even if there's five people in the audience, they like- not that there ever was. But, it there were five people in the audience, they would give them the best show of their fucking lives.

And that's great. I've been to shows where there's very few people there and you can tell the bands half-ass it.

That's the thing, though. Machineheart and Smallpools, they have- we haven't really had to have a reason to half-ass it. But, I've just seen huge crowds this tour and medium crowds and they perform like there'd huge crowds every night.

Yeah, there were people already lining up outside when I was pulling up.

Yeah, they were waiving at me. And I was like, "Oh, hi", ha ha.

Yeah, I saw them peeking through the fence. But when I was still far away, I thought it was your tour manager and you goofing around. But when I got closer, I realized that girl was like, fifteen.

That's amazing.

Um, so I guess it's time to wrap it up here. With just how long you've been in the business and seeing all different sides of it, for anyone aspiring to do music...or just be involved with music in one capacity or another, from the more creative side, are there any words of wisdom you'd like to pass down. And don't over-think it. This is something I like to ask all artists.

Yeah! Um, I would say- I always say some iteration of this and I'm not sure why I believe this that much. But I really try to tell myself this all the time. Like, your path is so different than anyone else's. Like, you can't look up at your favorite all-star of all time and be like, "I want to be them." They've had such a different life than you. They've gone through so many different things. And everything that you're doing is so unique to you, you just have to run. Run straight down your path. Don't be distracted by other things, other people. Just, follow where you're going. Is that cheesy? I feel like that's so cheesy.

Not cheesy at all Ms. Ryan. It's sobering and truthful. Something young people need to hear. And something I wish I heard before we met.