Regular readers may recall that it was around this time last year when Toronto-based musician (and good pal of GDW) Ryan Farley released the uber-cool 80s synth track, “Staring Down The Night,” recorded through his Oscar Tango project. An incredibly upbeat single, this tune derived from Ryan’s notable passion for ‘all-things-80s,’ citing the likes of Squeeze, Mr. Mister, and Billy Joel as his own personal influences – and for us listeners, offered a throwback to bygone days, whilst lifting us out of those winter blues and guiding us towards a new season of hope and prosperity.
Ryan was also featured on our pages back in the summer of 2019, albeit indirectly, contributing keys on a single by The Actual Goners. The bottom line here is that Ryan is no stranger to us, and we’ve quickly tuned into the fact that he is at his happiest and creative best when keeping himself busy. Returning today with another project, titled Little Steed, and a cracking new tune which we are delighted to premiere, Ryan has obviously been very, very busy since our last check-in.
“Little Steed is an electronic focused side project of myself and features various guest vocalists,” Ryan offers. “The new sounds are inspired by my deep love of 80s music – shimmering synths, big guitars and huge melodies.” Although Ryan remains pretty tight-lipped about name-dropping these guest vocalists (hinting that some prominent Toronto artists shall appear on the next release), this first single teaches us of a collaboration with Toronto-based musician Dani Nash – an accomplished drummer and vocalist who has performed alongside many high-profile acts including July Talk, Sarah Harmer, Andy Shauf, and of course, “Toronto’s most electrifying live rhythm and blues review,” The Mercenaries.
Written by both Farley and Nash, the origins of “Maybe I Faked It” date back to the spring of 2021 – yes, around the time of that Oscar Tango single – and where the harsh realities of a pandemic and provincial lockdowns resulted in both artists working on the song in their own separate spaces. Demos would be sent back and forth via email, before eventually honing the song into its final form – later mixed and mastered by Ryan, “in a cabin in the woods, where there is no internet, plenty of firewood and a cat named Pickles.”
Hitting the play button, you are greeted by some vibrant synths and a few heavy dubs that are happy to give your speakers a wake-up call. Dani’s vocals transport you back to an adrenaline charged 80s nightclub, while drum machine beats, kicks, and electro taps are tossed in for good measure. Should I really confess to hearing hints of Madonna’s “Get Into The Groove,” one moment, before floating away with those synth vibes that, for this particular Brit at least, conjure memories of the popular sounds of Strawberry Switchblade, Erasure, and The Human League? But with so many acts dominating the synth-pop scene – even to this very day – there’s bound to be some familiar energies and vibes each listener shall tap into.
Ryan had a vision of working with specific chords that ended up being the verse during the early stages of this collaboration, but once Dani’s lyrics and melody were added to the mix, the rest of the song was quickly shaped around them. “Dani’s singing style can be quite subdued at times with [a] cool swagger to it, but conveys tons of emotion and feeling as well, so shaping the sounds and chord progression around what Dani wrote became my main task,” Ryan shares. “Also, trying to support what the lyrics are saying through the soundscape you create is an important part of production and writing. Everything you do needs to fit the vibe of the lyrics and convey the story.”