The first time I ever heard of Rye Randa was while watching Shaun White's documentary Don't Look Down as it was broadcast on ESPN Classic. It's not as if Mr. Randa is an unknown in the music industry. As a matter of fact, he's one of the most respected producer/songwriter/musicians in the business.
I have to admit the only reason I watched the Shaun White snowboard documentary was because I'd heard Michael Johns had teamed up with two others (Rye Randa and Jeff Foxworth) to score the soundtrack for the film. Suffice it to say, I was completely blown away by the music and could not wait to find out when to expect a release date in order to purchase a copy.
Being the nosy little Michael Johns fan that I am, I just had to know more about his collaborations, and what other music Rye and Michael may have teamed up on together. It helped me immensely when one of my fellow IDF forum members mentioned they'd seen Rye Randa listed as one of Michael Johns' top friends on his MySpace Music page.
I proceeded with all due haste to that place, and followed a link to Rye Randa's own MySpace Music page. What I found while diving into each scrap of information I could find about Rye impressed me so much, I felt he'd more than earned an article of his own.
I took a chance and decided to ask Mr. Randa if he might add me as a MySpace friend. I didn't really expect a reply after learning all there is to know about him. I assumed he was too big, or too busy to add a run of the mill, relative unknown like me, but still I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a try.
You can imagine my surprise when I logged on and found, not only had he added me, but he'd also replied to the message I sent along with the add request. The message I offered was simple enough and heartfelt, as I told him how much I'd enjoyed not only the documentary score, but also the incredible music on his website.
Since I already knew of his previous works with Michael, who currently has a new single scheduled for release in November, and a full CD expected out by February, I asked Mr. Randa if he was in any way involved in that project.
His response was: "Thanks Rebecca! Glad you like the music. To answer your question, it's too soon to tell, but there is at least one song we've collaborated on that could make the record. We shall see…"
I blinked a few times and rubbed my eyes before looking back at the screen. The note was still there, and it was quickly apparent I wasn't just seeing things. Having already heard some of his music, I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to hear this tidbit of news. Without giving it a second thought, I fired an email back between turning cartwheels across the room. Mine went something (exactly) like this…
"Oh my God! That's wonderful news! You are an incredible talent. I've done a bit of research on you since learning of the documentary. I'm also a writer for BC Magazine and another website featuring Michael Johns and his most talented collaborations! With your permission, I'd like to do a feature on your musical career. Let me know if there's anything you'd like the general public to hear. Thanks so much for the add! I'm truly honored. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that your song makes it to this album!!!"
Now you must keep in mind, I was completely taken aback that he'd bothered to answer the first time, so I assumed that was the last I'd hear from Rye Randa, musician extraordinaire. I was just happy to know that he'd heard how excited I was to think he might be involved with the new CD.
Never in a million years, did I expect that he would agree to the feature article I'd proposed. I can't even put into words how honored I am to offer you the following correspondence I shared with Rye Randa…who now also holds the distinction of being my very first celebrity interview.
"When it comes to music, there isn't much RYE RANDA can't do! From singing and writing to producing and engineering, he truly does it all…
In 2006 Rye partnered with talented guitarist, songwriter and friend Jeff Foxworth (Dave Stewart, Kara DioGuardi, Weekend Excursion). The two joined forces to form a dynamic producer-songwriter duo, and have been quite busy ever since. Current album projects include Three Dog Night, Bonnie Somerville (Garden State), Rachel Fox (Desperate Housewives) and Rossif Sutherland to name a few. Also Rye and Jeff recently signed on to score the exciting new NBC reality series “Echo Ops” which debuts in 2009.
Last year Rye and Jeff teamed up with their good friend Michael Johns (American Idol Season 7) to score the documentary film “Don’t Look Down” for the Ebersol brothers. The film chronicles Olympic snowboarder and skater Shaun White. “Don’t Look Down” airs January 2nd, 2009 on ESPN, and will be followed by a DVD release, as well as a Soundtrack featuring several bonus songs not heard in the film.
With more than a decade and a half of experience under his belt, Rye has written, produced and arranged over 300 records for numerous songwriters, artists and bands.
But we can assure you this is only the beginning…"
I followed up the Biography he'd sent with these questions, hoping to put some of my speculations to rest:
Are those release dates for the Don't Look Down soundtrack and DVD pretty firm?
My understanding is that they will be released in conjunction with the air date of the film. But I could be wrong!
It is also rumored that you helped Michael Johns with the "River Of Life" project. Are there any details that you would like to share about that collaboration?
Yes, I produced, engineered and played bass on that song. We recorded it for a documentary film called Ithuteng about the South-African Ithuteng Trust School for young teens that have basically been failed by the system in the post-Apartheid region of Soweto. One of the students, Lebo Kgasapane (the singer on "River of Life") passed from AIDS before the film was completed.
Of course, everyone would love to know which of your songs might end up on Michael's CD.
Unfortunately I can't say. It's top secret! But I can tell you that his CD will be off the hook. The tracks I've heard so far are insane! Plus there are some very big players involved. All in all I'm positive it will be a huge success.
Michael has mentioned the following people are involved with the new CD: Diane Warren, John Shanks, Ken Andrews, Matt Mahaffey, Linda Perry, John Legend, and of course, now we know about you. Do you know whether or not Cee-Lo Green and Mark Ronson are on board too?
I believe there will be some collaboration with Cee-Lo Green. Not sure about Mark Ronson.
Some of the questions come from Michael Johns' fans at IDF ( Idolforums.com – Michael's section on the board and home of The Aussie Posse forum.). You are rapidly gaining a fan base here at the IDF site as well! One of the members wanted to ask how long have you known Michael Johns?
Michael and I met in 2006 during the Ithuteng project. So about 2 and a half years.
How many tracks have you and he collaborated on in the past?
Including the Lebo song and all the Shaun (White) stuff, probably around 30 tracks or so. Give or take.
Do you have plans to help or perform with Michael on future albums or projects?
There has been talk about us performing some of the Shaun songs live at the X Games, but that remains to be seen.
Are you signed now with a label, and if so, with whom?
No, I am not signed. I've been quite busy with producing/writing/scoring for the last few years. As a result my own music has sort of been put on the back burner. But I always try to write and record whenever I have free time in between projects.
Are you currently working on a solo album, and if so, do you have a title for the album or a release date that I can share with the readers?
Like I said, it's slow moving, but yes I will release a solo album. Hopefully within the next year…
One of our members noticed Kara Dioguardi is in your top friends on MySpace. What connection do you have with the new 4th American Idol judge?
My writing/producing partner Jeff Foxworth used to play guitar in her band called "Platinum Weird" with Dave Stewart. So Jeff is the connection. Her songwriting career is definitely something that I aspire towards. She's had something like 60 of her songs on platinum selling albums! Quite remarkable… I have tremendous respect for her accomplishments.
Are there any other personal tracks or websites you can share in addition to the play list on MySpace? (Other than this one RyeRanda.com?)
Wow, I forgot I had those tracks posted on my homepage! There are probably quite a few links out there that I'm unaware of, but other than that, it's just MySpace right now. However, I have a designer currently working on my official website, so hopefully that will be done very soon.
Do you know whether or not Michael's unreleased songs could legally be used in a fan video competition?
*…Hmmm, which songs are you referring to? I'm not an expert on legal stuff, so I couldn't really say.
*(writer's note: To be fair to Mr. Randa, I didn't really expect he would be able to answer that question. I only hoped he'd ask Michael that question for me, since they are friends. Let's just say I was pushing my luck just a bit. lol)
Do you have any music videos for your music? Do you have any live performance videos I can share?
Not at the moment, but stay tuned!
I thanked the gentleman again for his time, and must say I'm still a bit stunned that someone with his magnitude of talent took enough interest in one of his fans to respond. Garnering every bit of my gratitude for taking that time, I decided to try and do something as thanks to him in return.
I wrote a quick note to Mr. Michael Johns and asked if he had any comment he'd like to share regarding Mr. Rye Randa. I wish you could see the smile on my face as I copy and paste what he sent in return. Here's yet another gentleman's response to the simple request of a fan.
"He is an Artist and a genius! He is a dear friend and anyone who gets to work with him will be a better musician for doing so."
Now, it seems I owe Michael Johns my thanks as well! (Thank you Michael!) While I'm doling out thanks, may I just add a few names of the IDF Aussie Posse who sent questions for me to ask Rye. IDF members Feelingdizzy, Ainn, and BlueMonday provided some of the questions for this interview. They have my gratitude.