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ICYMI, pop songwriter-turned-songstress Phoebe Ryan released a single “ICIMY” (In Case I Miss You) as her album announcement several months back. Please know, she’s been working on her debut album for over two years, but she’s been waiting for the chance to put an album together for five. A Texas-born, Jersey-raised young yet seasoned songwriter, she’s penned gems for the likes of Melanie Martinez, Zara Larsson, and Britney Spears (NBD), among others. She’s collabed with Skizzy Mars, The Knocks, Tritonal, and The Chainsmokers (+++). She’s since gone through a multitude of changes, both personal and professional: management transitions, label changes, industry business norms, and dealing with her own mental health.

And now, in the biggest year of change our society has arguably ever seen, Phoebe is emerging with a beautifully savvy masterpiece of pop music in the form of How It Used to Feel. The independently popular-released LP runs the gamut of feels and situations – relatable in sad, angsty, empowered, transformative, uplifting ways.

Becoming a successful songwriter is a feat within itself. Transitioning from writing to, “Hey, I’m here with my LP” is even greater. How are you feeling right now?

I’m a little up and down lately, so I’ll just tell you how I’m feeling now because I want to be honest. It’s really, really hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I’ve been working so hard for this album to come out and I’m not able to go on tour and play it for people… It’s not even like needing a sense of closure, it’s just like the next logical step after you put an album out. I’m just feeling a sense of loss. I’m worried about venues and going back to shows. But I’m obviously thrilled to be putting the album out – I think people are going to love it! I’ve truly never been more proud of anything in my life.

I know mine (“Talk to Me” and “A Thousand Ways”) – what’s your favorite song (or songs) on the album and why?

My favorite tends to change pretty often. Right now it’s between “Little Piece” and “The Real Wild Ones” – “Little” was the first song I wrote for the album and “Wild” was the last, so maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic about the whole process… I can hear my growth from one to the other and I just really love those songs.

“Talk to Me” was written post-breakup and is just fire. There’s something very real about the path of hurt leading to creativity. Can you share more about your experience with this song?

It was the kind of breakup where it was so clear that we were just meant to be friends, but he was having a hard time being honest with me. I was in the studio the day he sent me a text saying he was going to see other people and I was actually so relieved. 99% of my songs are all from very specific moments, from very real places. I try to be as vulnerable as possible in my writing because I think it has the potential to help fans be more confident and in touch with themselves.


Speaking of specific moments, what have the BLM protests and the movement, in general, meant to you?

I’ve had so many things to learn, and so many things to unlearn. And I really never want to go back to the way things were: personally, politically, in my community. I have a book club and we’re engaging in a lot of BLM discussions and how to be a better ally. This is our time as white people to fix the shit that we have been ignoring. We’re too advanced, our generation – millennials and younger – we’re too advanced to be turning a blind eye. We gotta be woke!

“See Myself” makes me want to get up and dance, yet listening to its lyrics brings on some sad, nostalgic, angsty-teen kind of feels. What was your process with this song?

I had taken 10 months off of music to be in therapy and get balanced on new medication – I have bipolar disorder. I was in a place of working really hard on myself, learning tools on how to deal with myself, basically. I would have conversations with my best friend, she had a really rough image of herself so I wrote this song about us, like not understanding how great we are.

Mental health is an important conversation that we are going to continue to have. I’ve been really upset about this whole Kanye thing – I can’t imagine how much he is suffering and it really hurts to see people just not understanding what he’s going through mentally. We still have so much work to do to make people fully understand that mental health is not just something we talk about when something goes wrong.

You’ve said that communication is something you write about often. How has first quarantine, and now the revolution changed the ways you communicate?

Thank you for using the word “revolution”! What’s crazy is I have never been closer to my fans – like on a very personal level. It just so happened that a fan reached out and asked if I wanted to start a Discord server [send a text to 908.224.3480 for more info] – so I started using it and I’m on it all day long talking to fans. I’ve FaceTimed almost 200 fans during the quarantine. I have these personal relationships with everybody now. It’s been so cool to see everyone getting behind me for this album release. I don’t have a major-label budget anymore so just to see people who genuinely really fucking care be posting in their Stories to pre-save my album – it’s just, there’s a real bond there. It’s so amplified, maybe cuz we’ve all been a little lonely but now we have each other.



story/ Eve Simonsen

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