Saturday, September 06, 2008

Kelly Patrick Ryan

Kelly Patrick Ryan

Kelly Patrick Ryan is the artist behind the solo project titled "Happy as F***," making it one of only a very few projects whose names I cannot legally say on the show. Actually, his may be the only project I can't legally identify on the air, now that I think about it... I received the CD from Ryan's friend Arden Durham, when Kelly was in the hospital. He was diagnosed with cancer around 1997, and he passed away in 2003.

I asked Arden to fill in the blanks for our feature on Kelly Patrick Ryan this week, and I'm basically paraphrasing her email in my introduction here. I never met the artist personally, though I played his tracks several times on the show. I understand he was an occasional listener to the program. She describes him as... Well, I might as well just let her do the introduction, too. Here's a segment from a recent email message to intro this week's feature on Kelly Patrick Ryan...

Kelly died in October of 2003 from brain cancer after battling it for more than six years. He produced music up until the last few months of his life. His experience with such an aggressive and eventually debilitating cancer probably brought out the best of his grim humor and passion for expressing deep emotions, and he was a lighthearted jokster up until the end. No matter how dire or desparate a situation might be, Kelly found a way to do something constructive and creative with it, exerting some relief from the situation. Not that he backed away from things that most people like to keep secret and tuck into hiding, as he often portrayed the vulnerability, frustration, fear and anger we all feel at some point or another in his artwork and his music.

He was self taught in music and took part in Musical Theater, at the Maplewood Heritage Theater, when he was a kid. In 1994, he settled into the Tilsner Building, in St. Paul, as an audio sculptor, working with keyboards, midi and sampling. He was also a painter, with shows at galleries such as Distillo and Art Jones. He performed at venues such as First Avenue and the Walker Art Center.

With special thanks to Arden Durham, here's this week's feature on Kelly Patrick Ryan...

*Name: Kelly Patrick Ryan

*Members: Kelly Patrick Ryan, solitary project

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I would describe Kelly’s work as mostly digital deconstructions. But some tape manipulations and turntable creations, along with other crafty means, were used to reconstruct or create this music. Kelly was very clever and could make music out of just about everything, from a woman screaming excerpted out of a movie to pirating samples of other’s music to playing an instrument, bending, twisting, or otherwise altering noise to suit his expressive purposes. He described himself as “working extensively with keyboards, sampling, midi programming, and recording.”

*Another genre descriptor: Kelly described his work as “audio sculpture” and himself as an “audio sculptor.” His music was an essential medium of expression to his identity as an artist and he was always making it in some way, shape or form.

*Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota

*Original Location: Saint Paul, MN

*What is your creative/artistic background / History: Kelly Ryan performed in musicals as a kid, so he got an early start. As an adult, he played with Rummage Kinsman, New Music Ensemble, and Dead City Radio among other bands. Kelly was a master at keyboards and drum machines. There are rare tracks in which Kelly actually sang, but he still always altered his voice with a ton of effects.

*Born: 1969

*Motivations: “My work reflects a number of things; mostly it’s the result of venting, complaining about a situation, my environment or love in general.”

*Philosophy: “My goal as an artist is not to get you the viewer to praise or criticize the work but rather simply to remember it.”

*How would you like to be remembered: I like to remember Kelly Ryan as a great humorist in all art forms. He was always layering multiple meanings or metaphors in his work. Above and beyond his satire, having a great time was important to Kelly. I think he would get a kick out of people listening to his music at all, but if they found some inspiration, emotional validation, or anything else to take away from it, all the better!!!

*Web address:


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