Before Sam Ryder competed in the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin in May, he had his doubts because in the previous two years the United Kingdom had ended up in an embarrassing last place. But Ryder finished second with his song "Space Man" and a spectacular performance in a glitter suit - the start of an incredible run for the British singer-songwriter. Sam Ryder is now releasing his debut album, There's Nothing but Space, Man!
"What a year, man, unbelievable!" enthused the 33-year-old in an interview with the German Press Agency in London. Among other things, he sang in the summer of Queen Elizabeth II's 70th anniversary in London in front of Buckingham Palace and was on stage at Wembley Stadium with the musicians of the Foo Fighters and his idols Queen.
"If just one of those things happened in a year or two years, you would sit down with the family and talk about it for months. It's really hard to summarize."
He hardly has time for sport
Ryder, whose career began as a Tiktok star, has long been a sought-after man beyond the internet. This year he gave concerts in Germany, the USA and Great Britain. Time has become a scarce commodity for him. He talked to dpa early in the morning via zoom while taking a walk through Primrose Hill Park in London. "I'm trying to do a bit of sport," he says, laughing. "I give my interviews while I'm walking, otherwise I don't have any time for sports at all."
The man with the striking full beard and long hair composed most of the songs for his debut album before the ESC hype started. "I wrote the album without knowing I was writing an album." Only the success in Turin and the great attention prompted Ryder to make an album out of it. "I went through my hard drive and found about 100 songs. Then I set about creating a kind of playlist. And I thought: I would like a record like that. The songs went well together." Two more songs followed.
His positive nature is not artificial
"There's nothing but space, man!" has become a powerful pop rock album on which Ryder's extraordinary voice, as in "Space Man", comes into its own right from the start.
For example, on the opening track "Deep Blue Doubt" he first sings over melancholic piano chords before the song develops into a rousing, uplifting pop song. This is symbolic of Ryder's positive attitude, which - it becomes clear in conversations - is by no means artificial.
The dramaturgy from the rather quiet beginning to the powerful chorus is similar to "Space Man", "Tiny Riot" or "More". The gripping song about the feeling of wanting more of everything and never getting enough instead of concentrating on the essential things is one of the highlights of the album. "We all get distracted by the big, glittery things," Ryder said, "but they don't have the longevity of the normal, simple, pretty things."
The singer with the hippie look doesn't want to be blinded by his career highlights this year, so as not to lose his grip on the ground. "No one wants to be friends with someone who thinks they are very important because they performed at Wembley," he said. "Nevertheless, there are so many people who behave like that. I have absolutely no interest in that kind of thing."
He's not playing along with Spotify's game
The song "This Time" is about Ryder's meteoric rise to fame and the pitfalls that came with it. "Careful when you climb a ladder, you don't know how high it goes" reads one line.
In the age of streaming, many artists consciously align their songs with Spotify and Co. when writing and, for example, start the refrain as early as possible. Luckily Ryder doesn't do that. "I think that's also because some of my favorite songwriters are the big ones. Billy Joel never wrote his songs for Spotify. That didn't exist back then. Maybe I won't have a huge hit in streaming right away because I'm not playing this game, but I'm reaching the fans."
You can hear that in addition to Billy Joel and Elton John, Queen, with whom Ryder sang the song "Somebody To Love" at the tribute concert for the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, and their legendary frontman Freddie Mercury are among his most important role models songs sung with passion.
The album is rounded off by a bit of electropop ("Put A Light On Me") and a bit of groovy soul (the single "Somebody"). "There's Nothing But Space, Man" is a solid debut. Sam Ryder is expected to have even less time for his sport soon.
Sam Ryder's album There's Nothing But Space, Man is out December 9th on Parlophone Records.