Ryan Cabrera initially hit the scene with singer-songwriter jams like "On the Way Down" and "True"—which you'll hear him slay on the My2K Tour—and the Dallas musician has consistently been putting out new material since his breakout moment in 2004. Today (Aug. 19), he drops his latest single, "Whatever Whenever," which brings a refreshingly carefree vibe to the musician's discography.
Before taking the stage in Brooklyn, Cabrera sat down with Fuse to talk about his new material along with a look back at his debut and the wave of singer-songwriters he blew up alongside.
FUSE: What's your the experience been like on the My2K Tour?
Ryan Cabrera: Really easy, very fun. Everybody's so professional and doing it for so long that everyone knows what's up and there's no craziness or chaos. It's really a dream tour because you get to hang out with friends, everyone from the bands to the sound guys to the tech guys to monitor guys to the tour manager to all that good stuff—it's amazing.
You're definitely different as the sole solo act among the boy bands and girl groups.
That's what makes these shows so fun, it's eclectic. I bring the singer-songwriter aspect to the show. It's why I chose to do just me and the guitar; to bring that flair.
You've been playing the new single "Whatever Whenever." What's that reaction been like?
It's been going really, really well. I get the whole crowd to sing it with me at some point, it's cool to be able to do that with a brand-new song nobody knows yet. But then we kick it back old school. [Laughs]
What does this new single represent to you?
I was working on new music with a side project with a buddy of mine Nash Overstreet of Hot Chelle Rae. We got together for the first time and were making completely different stuff where we were experimenting and having fun. We came up with this song, "Whatever Whenever," which is just about having fun, letting go, making everything you do a good time—even when you're stuck at work, make it fun, or fucking quit and do something you love! Anyone who knows me, I don't take too much too seriously that I don't need to, I like to have a good time, and that's what the song's about.
And this is leading to the full-length album, Beyond the Sky?
What started as a side project, is probably going to lead to a whole new album! It turned into something very, very cool and beyond what I expected—I wasn't even expecting to put out a new single anytime soon. I had actually already wrote a record that will probably never come out now because this song just took on a whole new life. It's a new sound and it's leading to where I can do whatever I want, and write whatever I want, and hopefully no one will pre-judge it.
Will Nash be further involved in the album?
He produced "Whatever Whenever" and we've written a number of tunes together. We've been friends for a really long time, but this is the first time we've ever worked together. I think my new experiment is getting together with friends, seeing what we come up with, and there's no expectation: Let's just write, see what happens and put out singles. Sometimes when you're putting out an album, you focus so much on the sound of the album as a whole, but this time, I'm veering towards every song is going to be completely different than the other one. I'm not going into it like, "I'm making an album." I'm just writing songs. It's fun, that way it keeps you guessing and the new single you'll be like, "What the fuck?"
Who else are you friends with in the industry?
One of my best friends is [Diana Ross' son] Evan Ross, and he's been focusing on acting with Hunger Games and stuff like that. He's an amazing, amazing singer—one of the best tones I've ever heard—we wrote a ballad that's really, really cool. A DJ friend of mine tiDy, we did a collab with me, him and Nash. My other buddy, Travis Clark from We the Kings, we wrote a couple songs together. All these people you wouldn't expect! [Laughs]
If you could rewrite the narrative when you hit the scene, what do you wish people knew or focused on more?
When I came out, I was working on my record, I had made it, and it just so happened my girlfriend at the time [Ashlee Simpson] had a television show [2004-2005's The Ashlee Simpson Show] and there were always cameras around. That show came out before my album came out. The album was done, but with the way record labels are, my album didn't come out until one or two years after I actually made it. So, the TV show comes out, and a lot of people were already like, "That's the guy from the TV show" and when you're trying to put out your record, you have to be like, "No, I was never that guy from that TV show, I was always an artist making a record. My girlfriend had a TV show and it was impossible to not be around." One of the hindrances from that was that a lot of people viewed me as "the guy from that show" or "the guy we saw on the streets getting photographed blah blah blah. At the beginning, that kind of overshadowed who I was and the musician that I am. That's why I think when a lot of people who come to these concerts who have never seen me play come away saying, "Oh shit, wait a second, he's a real musician, he's a real songwriter, he's a lot of things I had no idea about!" That would be one of the misconceptions that I was a pop dude on a TV show.
If there was a fifth act on the My2K Tour, who would you choose?
I did a tour with me, Tyler Hilton and Teddy Geiger—the three of us because we kind of came up together at the same time and in the same genre. It felt right and we were all friends. I love those two guys, and Teddy's killing it right now with the Shawn Mendes record [co-writing "Stitches"]. I would take another singer-songwriter to even it out and the boy bands don't overpower me. Gavin DeGraw would be amazing, Howie Day; we were all coming up at that same time period and that would round things out.
The My2K continues throughout the summer. See tour dates and ticket info here. Watch a classic interview with headliners 98 Degrees at the Fuse HQ below: