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One to Watch: Mating Ritual

The rising L.A. artist talks recording independently, where he finds inspiration and his love for Enya

Mating Ritual’s Ryan Marshall Lawhon is not totally new to the music industry. You may recognize him from his last band Pacific Air who had a short run in 2012-2014 before the duo separated. Ryan yearned for a creative freedom he hadn’t had with Pacific Air and he found it in the world of independent recording.

“I’m still learning as I go. I have no rules and no one to answer to. The blank slate can be intimidating but I’m so proud of what I’ve come up with,” Ryan describes what it was like recording Mating Ritual’s first full-length album independently.

The debut album How You Gonna Stop It? will be released as two six-track volumes. Volume 1 will be released on January 24, 2017 and features the title track. We caught up with Ryan before he heads out on tour to discuss the new album, where he finds inspiration and how much Enya he really listens to. 

What was it like recording your album?

It was a really long process. Partly because I do a lot of work for television and film that can be super time-consuming. Mating Ritual started so that I could be creatively happy while I do other things. At first it was great but then I started really missing being in a band-style atmosphere from playing shows and touring to making an album. So, the past six months I have been only focused on Mating Ritual. I’m really excited that I finally have something to show for all my efforts.

What made you decide to release your album in two volumes?

I’ve decided to go completely independent for this process. Both of my last bands were with major labels and it’s such a political game. It takes a lot of the fun and creativity out the process, for me personally. So, I wanted to do this totally independent. Unfortunately, it’s expensive. That’s a price I’m willing to pay but it made more sense to release the album in two volumes in order to give myself more time. Volume 1 is being released January 24th and Volume 2 will be released the last week in April.  

What can fans expect from the album?

Well, I think the fact that the album is being released in two volumes makes it really unique. They are two albums that work together but they also work on their own.

How You Gonna Stop It?

How do you think your sound has evolved from Pacific Air to Mating Ritual?

I didn’t realize how different Mating Ritual sounds compared to Pacific Air until someone played something back for me. Pacific Air was much more surfy, pretty and vibey. Mating Ritual has some of those types of songs but I’ve experimented a lot more with tempo and aggression.

What’s interesting is that the first few Mating Ritual songs actually started out as Pacific Air songs. I was working on our second album when things sort of disintegrated and so I just kept working on those songs as Mating Ritual. I figured if I was starting a new band I could explore different sounds, so I did.

Where do you look to for inspiration when writing songs?

I love the minutia of daily life and the Seinfeld-esque observations that you can pull out of things. You can pull grander meaning out of small things. Songs for me will start with little details that I notice; the way someone says a word or something. I’m inspired by observations.

Mating Ritual

What is a band or artist that fans would be surprised to hear you listen to?

I’m not that surprising. I really like new age. I guess that’s kind of something no one listens to anymore. I’m a huge Enya fan. You know how Spotify sends out those playlists at the end of the year recapping what you listened to the most? Mine was pretty much all Enya. It’s a little misleading because I’ll put it on before I go to sleep and just keep it going but still, I love Enya.

I think my favorite current band is Spoon. Brit Daniel and Jim Eno have such collaborative minds that work so well together. I don’t think there’s ever been a Spoon album that I don’t love.