Ryan Kinder always had a musical spark, but it wasn’t until a terrifying run-in with a tornado in 2011 that changed his life forever. After surviving this event, Kinder knew he had to start pursuing his dreams. Now, he is gearing up to release his debut album, Room To Dream, on July 30.
“It was a movement of realization, a come to Jesus moment of sorts, that life is too short and I’m wasting my time at UofA when I knew exactly where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I moved to Nashville as soon as I could to pursue music full time,” Kinder told Music Mayhem.
As an independent artist, it can often be difficult to grow a large fanbase, or get your name out into the world without a major record label’s support. However, with over 95 million streams, Kinder has already proven that he’s made the right decision to not pair with a big label at this point in his career, as he’s found the drive to pursue his dreams on his own.
“The freedom of being an independent artist gave me the space to be who I am,” said Kinder.
Kinder’s strength and perseverance has come into play not only in his music career, but also in his personal life as well. In honor of his late friend, Kinder will be competing in the IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii.
“It’s something that he wanted to do and will never be able to. It’s every swim stroke, pedal and step in honor of him,” Kinder explained.
Getting up at 4 AM every day to train hard, while he is also in the midst of growing his presence as a musician is not an easy task. Kinder’s passion for both of these aspects of his life help to carry him through the most difficult times.
Music Mayhem caught up with Kinder to talk more about the start of his music career, his upcoming debut album, starting his own charity and more.
Read on to find out what Kinder has been up to in this exclusive Q&A!
For our readers to get to know you a little bit more, can you share your backstory?
I was born in Knoxville, TN and grew up in Birmingham, AL. Started playing guitar at around 14 years old. Started playing gigs as soon as I could. My parents would have to chaperone me in the bars since I wasn’t allowed in at my age. My mom would sometimes sleep in a booth while my dad took cover with the bouncers at the door. I attended the University of Alabama and would go to class Tuesday through Thursday, play gigs Thursday through Saturday and then drive up to Nashville on Sunday to write with Keith Stegall and other folks on Monday then back to Tuscaloosa. I did that for years until April 27th, 2011 when a massive tornado almost took the lives of me and my friends. It was a movement of realization, a come to Jesus moment of sorts, that life is too short and I’m wasting my time at UofA when I knew exactly where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I moved to Nashville as soon as I could to pursue music full time.
What inspired you to pursue a career in country music and is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
My friend Keith Stegall inspired me to pursue country music. I came to town without any preconceived notions about anything. I just knew I wanted to play music and Nashville was the place I needed to be. After writing with Keith, Luke Sheets and many other people I met my first few years of being in town I realized country [music] was where I belonged.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences/inspirations?
I grew up listening to my parents’ records of Linda Rondstat, James Taylor, The Eagles, Aretha Franklin, Jackson Browne, Sam Cooke, Al Greene, Freddie King, and Marshall Tucker. Those were my first influences. I think the biggest influences are John Mayer, Keith Urban, Marc Broussard, Matchbox 20 and Garth Brooks
You’re gearing up to release your debut album, Room To Dream, in late July, can you tell us about the project and what inspired the name?
It was the opportunity for me to be completely me. I grew up listening to so many types of music and I wanted to make a record that tipped its hat towards who I am musically and what I love to do. Room to Dream is just that, it’s the artistic space for me to have room to dream and be me. The inspiration came from a Springsteen documentary. I misheard something he said and thought that is the perfect album title.
Two singles from the project were already shared including “Hell Is” and “Blame,” do you feel these two songs best showcase the album as a whole?
As an independent artist, you are able to do things others who are signed can not.
How important is it to you to be able to have creative freedom when it comes to branding, choosing the tracks/genres and more for the upcoming EP?
It’s important because I don’t think I would be allowed to make this record on a label. It’s almost genreless but with a connecting theme of who I am as a singer/songwriter. The freedom of being an independent artist gave me the space to be who I am.
It’s pretty impressive as an independent artist that you have over 95 million streams and have secured spots on tour with ZZ Top and more. How does it feel to achieve such success as an indie artist?
It’s absolutely fantastic. I believe the material is resonating with people that want to hear it. That’s a wonderful feeling.
You recently co-wrote a song that American Idol finalist Arthur Gunn chose to record as his debut single. What was the experience like having a song cut by an Idol contestant?
It’s always incredible when someone else wants to cut a song you wrote. It’s the true testament to a song when someone else believes in it as much as you and wants to make it their own. Arthur did a great job putting his spin on the song and making it truly him. It was an honor to have been a part of that record.
Aside from music, you are currently preparing to compete in the IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii in honor of your late friend. What does it mean to you to be able to do this for your friend?
It means so very much to me. It’s something that he wanted to do and will never be able to. It’s every swim stroke, pedal and step in honor of him. The chance to do it on the big island in the world championships makes it so much more impactful and meaningful to me.
What is your routine to prepare for a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run?
It is a very intense training schedule. Every day is different. I’m usually up at 4 AM to start training since I don’t want to be training during the day when I need to be putting in the work for music. For the world championships I got a coach as I don’t want to squander this opportunity by trying to come up with a training program myself for one of the hardest races in the world in one of the most brutal climates triathlon has to offer. I have a set plan and schedule everyday from him to follow. It is quite intense!
Can you tell us a bit about your passion project, Kinder’s Kids, and how it came to be and what y’all do for the community?
Kinder’s Kids was started by me and my wife, Heather. After the tornado in Tuscaloosa I remember running out of my house to go and help people. I saw a family standing on the foundation of what used to be their house and a child clutching to a teddy bear. The only possession she had left. That has stuck with me forever. That image was the start of collecting toys from venues I play and a charity drive every year to bring toys, clothes and whatever is needed to victims affected by a natural disaster.
Let’s end on a fun note, if you could choose any country artist and one all genre artist to collaborate with, who would you choose and why?
Bonnie Raitt and Chris Stapleton!
What’s next for Ryan Kinder in 2021?
Heading out on the road and recording album number two!!