Ryan Siew, a 16 year old Australian guitarist, is destined to take the world by storm with his virtuoso guitar skills by showing great potential as a budding talent. He’s been playing since the young age of 11 and shows no signs of slowing down. Ryan’s trajectory has already astounded many in the contemporary metal scene with his Youtube covers of technical songs by prominent bands such as Periphery, Killswitch Engage and Protest the Hero.
Mr. Siew’s presence in the musical field has been gaining significant attention with videos now being shared worldwide. Ryan often receives praise from the artists he has covered, as well as from well-respected international music companies and blogs. Ryan Siew’s ambition to become a full time musician has been rewarded with offers from international companies such as Bare Knuckle Pickups, Gruv Gear, Chapman Guitars and Sunken Clothing – products he now proudly endorses.
Ryan, not content with being just a cover artist, is determined to continue creating his own original compositions. Ryan Siew is currently offering teasers online for a solo album slated for release in 2014. He also continues to perform guest solos and help compose for various records.
He recently joined an active Australian metal band ‘Polaris’. Their EP “Dichotomy” was recently released in November 2013. In addition to this, he also offers guitar lessons in person and via Skype. This allows him to share his own knowledge with other aspiring musicians to an online community young and old on an international stage.
Groovey.TV recently caught up with this amazing young talent to ask him where he’s been, where he’s at and where he is going.
Let’s get started. First, who are you and where are you from / what’s your story?
I’m Ryan, a 16-year-old guitarist from Sydney, Australia and I love music!
When did you realize you had a passion for music?
I’ve always been drawn to music, so pretty much the day I picked up guitar! I’d spend most hours of the day practicing guitar as soon as I got home from school until my mother nagged me to stop, haha.
When did you start playing guitar? What interested you about the guitar?
I started playing guitar when I was 11, around five years ago. Initially, my cousin and I were obsessed with The Simpsons when we were younger, I remember watching an episode when Bart gets a guitar and I thought it was the most badass thing ever! So my parents bought me a crappy classical guitar when I was eight and I had absolutely no clue how to play it… I kind of abandoned it for two years and didn’t pick it up again until I was eleven after hearing Green Day’s album “American Idiot” [so] then I convinced my parents to sign me up for lessons at my local music school.
What are some of your influences?
I listen to a lot of music; I can’t possibly list them all! The obvious ones would be Periphery, Protest the Hero, and August Burns Red. There are so many great guitarists I absolutely adore such as, Guthrie Govan, Rick Graham, John Petrucci, Jakub Zytecki and my buddy Matt Harnett, who is insanely talented for his age. Earlier I was really into Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Fall out Boy and spent the first two years learning all their songs. More recently I’ve been digging Justin Timberlake, Ellie Goulding, Ghost and Plini. Everything I listen to influences me in some way.
What type of training have you had.. If any? Can you read music?
I initially took guitar lessons from a gentleman named Geoffrey Rectin at my local music school. After getting into metal he recommended this dude named Jono Peters who pretty much taught me everything I know, huge thanks to you buddy! (If you’re reading this haha…) and yes, I can read music. I’m in my schools Big Band, it’s pretty different from the music I usually play, but I love it. Being in the band has forced me to get my shit together and learn how to sight-read; still working on it!
What prompted you to start making videos on the web and promoting yourself?
Honestly, I only started uploading videos to monitor my progress over the weeks/months to see if I’ve improved and to share with my close friends. I ended up getting a fair amount of views on my first few covers, so I just kept on uploading. I never expected my YouTube to blow up so quickly over the past two years!
Now that you have gained some momentum out on the web; what success have you seen as a result of your efforts thus far? I.E. endorsements, accolades, recognition, etc.
Being on YouTube has given me a lot of opportunities that I just wouldn’t have had – all thanks to the support of my fans! I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of my favorite companies, which has been absolutely unreal.
What equipment do you use to make music and record.. and why?
I just jam around on my guitar, usually if I have a riff / song idea, I try to record it asap so I don’t forget the idea, usually with my webcam or in Logic. With my band, we all use Guitar Pro 6. Pretty much we notate any ideas onto the program and send each other the files back and forth, [which] makes it super easy to trade ideas and whatnot. As far as recording goes, I keep it very simple with my Axe-Fx II direct into Logic Pro X.
Can you give us a gear run down? Do you have a prized piece of gear?
My rig at home is essentially my Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II going into a pair Yamaha HS-50 monitors. Live with my band, I run a Furman Power Conditioner and an Axe-Fx II, which goes in to a Mackie HD 1531 Active speaker. We go direct to FOH with our Axe Fx’s but we have the Mackies for onstage monitoring. Right now my favorite piece of gear is my custom Mayones Regius 7 guitar, definitely one of the best instruments I’ve played – great company, great guitars!
What is your ultimate goal in playing music?
I aim to eventually become a full-time musician and tour internationally with my band to bring our music to as many people as possible!
What do you have in the works right now that you can discuss (that isn’t top secret)?
I’ve been slowly working on my solo EP for a while, which I hope to release when its done… but my main focus right now is with my band. We’ve been writing some new material that we hope to put out sometime next year.
So lets talk about your band? Name? Type of music? How did you come together? What is on the horizon? Long and short term goals? Where can people check out your band?
We’re called Polaris, a six-piece metal-core band from Sydney [Australia]. I only joined them recently through meeting them online after they posted something about wanting a new guitarist, but the other guys have been jamming together before Polaris – they’ve been together for around a year before I joined. We released our debut EP ‘Dichotomy’ on 11/29/13, so we’re going to be playing a lot of shows to promote the EP and hopefully some touring soon! We aim to eventually become a full-time, sustainable international touring band. You can check us out [on] Facebook at www.facebook.com/polarisaus the album can be downloaded at http://polarisaus.bandcamp.com/ for any amount!
For those out there, of any age looking to pick up the guitar or any instrument-that aspire to be as good as you are, what advice can you give them? Can anyone achieve your level of playing and what does it take to get there? Any suggestions?
Absolutely! Learning an instrument takes a lot of motivation and dedication; as long as you practice and enjoy it – the sky is the limit. Definitely focus on building your foundations as a guitarist first. i.e. Learn all the basic chords, scales and notes. Focus on your rhythm and groove before rushing into anything technical or fast. Learn easy songs and practice them until they’re perfect. Most importantly, always give yourself a challenge!
Do you give lessons? If so, can you provide details; how to contact you, what does the student need to take lessons with you i.e. computer set up, and the length of lesson, going rate?
I give lessons on Skype, you can contact me through my Facebook page and it costs $20 per hour. As long as you can speak decent English, we’re good to go!
Hmm…I’m a pretty boring guy to be honest, haha. Other than music I really like to cook and go out to eat with my friends. I watch a lot of TV shows in my spare time too. Breaking bad, Dexter, Suits, and Arrested Development are some of my favorites.
Where can people check you out?
Here are some other places to reach Mr. Siew
Ryan Siew Videos