We recently had the opportunity to interview Ryan Guldemond, lead singer of the Juno-award winning alt-rock band Mother Mother on their new album “Dance and Cry”. He shares his experiences writing the songs for the new album, what has changed over the years and also tells us about his TED talk. Check it out below!
Congrats on the release of your 7th studio album! Dance and Cry is now out!! Ryan, you wrote all 13 songs off this album after a difficult breakup – what is the significance to you having this album titled Dance and Cry?
Thank you:) There’s two sides to the title. One is that I wanted to make an emotional album, one that moved both myself and the listeners, and the question I kept asking myself while writing was “does this song make me want to dance or cry?” If the answer was no I wouldn’t waste time on it. Secondly, it’s an album about pain, and whether you’re hanging on to it or releasing it, you have to get really close to it. You have to get inside and underneath it, and become an expert on it. And in doing so you become vulnerable enough with yourself that you learn deep truths about yourself which is empowering cuz it shows you a map to get out. It cracks you open. And then you start to heal and grow and exult, and before you know it your dancing like an idiot with a big dumb grin.
You spent some time in Costa Rica doing some soul searching and writing new music – do you have any interesting stories from that time you can share? And what made you want to go to Costa Rica in particular?
I wanted to go somewhere that was tropical but not too far and not incredibly difficult to get around and function in. I like the story of where “Get Up” came from. One day I decided I would go to the beach and not leave until I had written a great song. Kind of a dumb idea, cuz you’re just putting too much pressure on yourself. Anyway, I found this out-of-the-way spot on the far end of the beach, shut my eyes and started playing. After some time I opened them to find I was being photographed by this random dude who snuck up on me. I asked him what he was up to and he said he’s a hobby photographer who likes to take pictures of people lost in things. Then we started talking about life
and he got into a pretty serious rant about how to fucking kill it and fulfill one’s destiny etc, stuff I really needed to hear at that time, cuz I was feeling a little dejected and lacking in confidence. There was a natural pause in the conversation and I picked up the guitar and wrote the chorus to “Get Up” right there on the spot. He looked over and said “that’s a good nugget”.
The band recently did a tour to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of your debut album O My Heart – what has changed about working in music for you since then both personally and professionally?
Songwriting has kind of become a bit more cathartic and serious for me, especially with Dance and Cry. It’s like, before I would just write songs. It came easy, and they were pretty good. Good enough, anyway, to keep the band moving along. What were they about? I don’t even know. They were ideas, stories, allegory, wordplay, feelings. I didn’t think too much about it. Now it just feels more sacred or spiritual, or just imperative that what I write today is deeply honest, vulnerable and, well, maybe even a little bit helpful. I don’t want to simply entertain, I want to help people get through the trials of the human experience by dissecting my own with greater courage via song. As for professionally, oh I don’t know. That stuff is pretty boring. Streaming?
You also did a TED talk titled “How to be a creative scavenger” what was the coolest part of that experience for you?
It was super cool to just get up there and talk passionately about something I’m genuinely passionate about, and then feel people become inspired in the room as I was doing so. I don’t know how that stuff works exactly, that palpable shift in energy when a group of people are silently becoming inspired. It’s not like they start to coo or flap their arms. Nothing changes. But everything changes too. It’s just energy and consciousness and molecules and electromagnetic this or that. Or maybe it’s something else? We will never truly know, and that’s why it’s so great.
What’s coming up in the next little while that the band is most excited about?
We are absolutely thrilled about this upcoming tour that starts in January. It’s just a big old beastly North American tour. 40 + shows over two months. The new songs really open up when we play them live, and 7 albums deep you can really craft the perfect setlist. And everyone in the band is just groovy these days. We’re singing well, playing well, clear and healthy, caring about the right things, not caring about the right things. It’s just a good epoch for Mother Mother and we’re excited to get to work and let it all shine out.
Thanks so much for your time Ryan!
Stream the bands new album here: