Today marks the release of award-winning singer-songwriter Ryan Cassata’s deeply personal eighth album, Magic Miracle Mile. He spoke with The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann about the record which he recorded, produced, and mixed himself. Although the album was inspired by loss and grief, Cassata says that the experience of writing, performing, and then listening back to the tracks was a healing and empowering one.
To celebrate the launch of Magic Miracle Mile, Ryan recorded a special live and acoustic version of the title track especially for The Queer Review, watch it right here:
James Kleinmann, The Queer Review: Thank you so much for recording that for us. So beautiful. It gave me all the feels!
Ryan Cassata: “You’re welcome!”
How did you come up with the album title?
“I wrote and recorded the record in the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles and there’s a line on the title track that directly references the district: ‘I’ll be hanging on for a while, making magic in the Miracle Mile, if you want to drop me a line. I’ll be waiting up by the door looking at the letters hit the floor, in case you drop me a line.’ The lyrics also reference the last album that I recorded which was The Witches Made Me Do It. I’m talking about magic, but by magic I mean songwriting. I’m also talking about ‘mail piling up at my front door’ in this new song, which is a reference to another previous album, Bamboo Plants. Both The Witches Made Me Do It and Bamboo Plants celebrated the relationship. This album grieves it.”
What were the inspirations for some of the tracks on the album and how cathartic do you find the experience of making music out of what’s happened in your life?
“Most of the record is inspired by loss and grief. It’s about a breakup and rediscovering myself. It’s also about processing my entire life. The shelter in place period was the first time I’d ever had a break from touring and playing shows since I was 15-years-old. I finally had time to process the international fame and pressure of being on the Larry King Live Show when I was a teenager. This album helped to heal me. Art does that. I hope people find empowerment through it. It definitely empowered me to write it and record it. I think releasing it will feel empowering as well.”
“Some of the music was definitely painful to listen to when I first wrote it. I had to get it out though. There were songs that I had to write so I could process and cry to them. Hurt is what gave birth to this album but I can say that empowerment is the feeling that I got most from writing it.”
What are some of the influences musically for this album and how consciously were you going in a different direction?
“I was definitely conscious of going in a different direction and I think a big part of it was because I was producing myself for the first time. I was learning how to record and produce as I went along. I had no idea what the genres were. I would play it back for friends and then I’d be like, ‘What is this?!’ And they’d be like, ‘I don’t know, but it’s awesome!'”
“It definitely combines my singer-songwriter style with emo rock. I can hear influences from all of the genres that I spent a lot of time listening to, which are classic rock, emo, cloud rap, hip hop, punk, pop, and R&B. The list goes on! I don’t really have a genre that I hate.”
Who did you collaborate with on the album when it comes to the vocal and instruments?
“My longtime bandmate Stephen Spies is featured the most on the record. He’s that really pretty low voice on many of the tracks. You can also hear his gorgeous strings. Then there are a few song collaborations, like Broken Heart (Transcend) was co-produced with Itsokaylove, an artist that I met through my blog, Rock The Pigeon. I brought Niko Storment in for vocals on Loner Boy and to be in the music video. He absolutely crushed it, so I had him feature on Hollyweird too. I also brought in Nikki Blonsky, Clayton Bryant, and XanTheArtist for Hollyweird. My friend Kenny Truhn, my original drummer from my first few records, played on some of the tracks as well.”
How did you want to do to represent the songs visually? The Hometown HEro video is an uplifting watch with its resistance vibe and great ensemble cast, and Starfucker$ is really stylish and badass.
“I’m glad you like them, thank you! Hometown HEro was mostly an all-queer cast and crew. I had my friends act in it and it was super fun to make. Then I had a professional Los Angeles Actor, Michael Lippman, play my uncle and he killed it!”
“Starfucker$ was shot by my friend Hunter Trinca during the shelter in place order period. It was the only time Melrose in Los Angeles was empty, so a perfect time to get those shots.”
What kind of feedback from fans means the most to you?
“I want to know that people can relate. I want to feel less alone and I want others to feel less alone. Music has a magical way of connecting people. I hope that people find empowerment through this as well.”
Which album has got you through tough times?
“So many, but If I had to pick just one album I would say Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids.”
What’s your favourite LGBTQ+ piece of culture or a person who identifies as LGBTQ+; someone or something that’s had an impact on you and resonated with you over the years?
“I saw RENT on Broadway when I was 13-years-old. I think that woke me up to a lot of things about the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s also where I first really saw queer people reflected in the mass media. Not only is the music incredible, but the culture was important for me to see and know as well.”
By James Kleinmann
Ryan Cassata’s Magic Miracle Mile is out now.