How Film Can Shift Our Perception Of Music

Field Notes Interview #23: Ryan Stively, Marmoset Artist

Ryan Stively knows the ever-shifting music industry all too well from his vast experience in it. As a touring songwriter for the acclaimed folk-pop band Port O'Brien, and having his music licensed in TV and film, he has a deep well of knowledge about the collaboration of music and picture that we're excited to share.

In our recent interview with filmmaker, Aaron Tharpe, we chatted about a wedding film that features Stively's music and how it affects the mood of the piece itself. We caught up with Ryan Stively to hear his experience as a working musician and how it's affects his personal and professional life.


M: When did you start writing music?

RS: I started writing short little tunes when I was 8 or 9 on my family’s piano. I’d come up with these really repetitive melodies and play them constantly. Ended up really annoying my siblings. 

M: What does a day in the life of a working musician look like for you?

RS: Things have changed quite a bit in the few short years I’ve been involved with the music business. I used to tour internationally in Port O’Brien and make a small amount of money touring and recording and getting some songs in commercials and shows. We were lucky enough to be signed to TBD / ATO and get an advance and the whole bit. Not sure that really happens to smaller touring groups anymore. 

Since those days, I got engaged and started working at Wieden + Kennedy, all the while writing and recording music. I started a small hot sauce company (Saucesome) with the producer of “Soft Kingdom”, Cory Gray. Making music for a living is a definite challenge. A lot of musician friends all have side hustles to supplement their music addiction. With music, the ad agency and the small business, I guess I have 3 primary vocations.

M: What role do you feel music has in film?

RS: With film and music both being time-based art-forms, they absolutely go hand-in-hand. Music can completely flavor and change the feeling or vibe of a piece of video dramatically. A really ominous piece of music over a benign scene in film can create an insane and undeniable tension in the viewer and vice-versa. Adding music to film is a really powerful and can bring out a whole new dimension in the emotional impact of the scene. 

M: How do you feel your song complimented the 31Films Wedding Video?

RS: When I first learned “We Forget Everything” was used in the 31Films Wedding video, I watched it with my then-girlfriend and we were both left totally misty-eyed! Made me see the song in a different way and I felt completely honored to have contributed in some small way to that beautiful couple’s day. Absolutely loved the way it turned out. 

M: What are you excited about for the future?

RS: My buddy Cory is building out a new studio in the Type Foundry building, and I’ve been demoing for real album #2 that I hope to have recorded by summer time. It’s going to be a good one! Also I’ve been board opp’ing at XRAY.fm and filling in and covering for some great shows here and there. Have had a lot of fun crate-digging and playing weirdo tunes on the radio.