Portland musician, Ryan VanDordrecht, took time to reconnect with the music that had inspired him as a kid after writing a record full of songs which attracted producer Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, Counting Crows) to work with him on his former band, Castella's album. With the maturity brought on by that experience, VanDordrecht set out to study some of the great records of the past to help him understand how truly great records are made. After spending a few years writing songs inspired by this period of discovery and exploration, he finally enlisted the help of friend and producer Rian Lewis (Priory, Crosstide, Ravishers) to embark on the musical journey that has become Ryan's debut record, Beast of Love.

On Beast of Love VanDordrecht captures depth and vulnerability with his songwriting, exposing himself in a far more endearing and honest fashion than the sometimes forced product he had released with his previous bands - Castella and Sidestar. He says, “I constantly find myself aiming for a sound that walks a fine line between polish and unrefined beauty.” This is all done while still maintaining his keen sensibility for creating accessible, melodic pop/rock music. The "Beast", in the record's title is representative of the many difficulties and tragedies life can bring, while "Love", taps into the idea that you get what you give in life, and if you give love, the possibilities of what a person can achieve and endure are endless.

Since both Lewis and VanDordrecht are multi-instrumentalists they were confident they could capture all of the performances and sounds they needed for the record. However, the two humble friends agreed that during the recording process if either one felt they had a better part or could play something better than the other guy, they would not let egos get in the way and let the other one take over. This agreement was forged for the sake of always serving the best interest of the song. This along with a dedication to not just finding one of ten or so musical parts that would work and sound ‘OK', but finding ‘THE' part that was meant to be in the song. This extreme focus on quality without sacrificing true emotion and authenticity is what makes, Beast of Love, a truly exciting record that is poised to put Ryan VanDordrecht on the map as an important up and coming figure in American songwriting.


Photographer: Kaitlin Emmerling