Drew Ryn Discusses "Problems," Blasterjaxx, and Life After The X-Factor
You may have 99 problems, but listening to the sweet and soothing voice of Drew Ryn and her synth pad on her latest single, ”Problems,” certainly won’t be one. “Problems”—a stripped down and raw sound that showcases the singer’s sultry voice and unbridled willingness to be herself—was released in March of this year. It’s just the latest in the star’s long-running career in music, which began when she was a contestant on The X-Factor in 2011. Drew Ryn won the hearts and minds of the American people when she was only 14 years old, competing on the debut season of The X-Factor in 2011. She made it into the Top 6 finalists, and was a favorite of X-Factor judge Simon Cowell.
Since then, the now 22-year-old has grown up, turning her flair for original covers songs into work as a professional songwriter for both herself and others. “Problems” is just one example of how the multi-talented singer is using her platform as a singer-songwriter to change the world one person at a time.
Music & Mojitos recently had a chance to speak with Ryn about her latest projects, including upcoming tours, a clothing line, anti-bulling Ted Talks—and a single with one of Music & Mojitos’ favorite EDM Duos, Blasterjaxx. Of course, we couldn’t help but ask about the song we’ve got on repeat lately, her latest single, “Problems.” The song is about chasing after a guy who is stringing you along, only half-interested - a “relationship” where one person is more invested than the other. We’ve all been there.
“It’s relatable, and what’s funny is that as a songwriter, I always find myself to be the ‘classic case of insert-the-blank,’” Ryn laughs. “So when I wrote ‘Problems,’ it was the telltale story of a girl chasing after a guy and the guy being semi-interested but not really…and that was a common story for me, and I liked that I was able to write a lighthearted song about it.”
Ryn explains that she and her best friend have acted as reality checks for one another over the course of their lives, especially in dating. They support each other by bringing awareness to one another’s situations. That awareness is what allows a person to work on changing behaviors that aren’t beneficial in the long term.
Over the last several years, Drew Ryn is no stranger to working on changing behaviors in order to be the best version of herself. She grew up in the spotlight, so part of her story involves not knowing what was going on around her, but rather, being thrown into it, she explains. Coming from a small town, there was a time where there were only four people in her high school class. “When I was 14 going on TV, I had no idea what I was getting into, and I dealt with major cyber bullying. It was like a tornado came through and messed up everything I believed about myself,” Ryn stated. It took several years to work through all of that, to come back to herself and to truly want to be who she is. “Presenting myself to the world so raw made me reevaluate who I wanted to love me, and if I really wanted to spend the rest of my life trying to convince people who didn’t like me, to like me,” Ryn continued. Instead, Ryn decided to put her efforts into the people who were already there for her, the ones who showed up and loved and accepted her for who she was.
“I became ugly and reserved because people told me over and over that I was ugly, so I turned inward,” she said. Realizing she was becoming a shell of herself, someone who adapted to become a version of a person that people would judge less harshly, Ryn finally decided enough was enough. It was time to stand up for her true, authentic self, and stop letting bullies get their way. Now, with her newfound confidence and willingness to be herself, Ryn is a huge anti-bullying activist. Her biggest goal in life is to help others, and she is a public speaker for anti-bullying causes, working with Allstar Nation Tour to bring her anti-bullying message to hundreds of thousands of young teenagers. Despite her ability to reach the masses through her various platforms and large online following, Ryn says “If you can change one life, you’ve succeeded; you don’t need a stage.”
Speaking of being on stage, you’re going to be seeing a lot of Drew Ryn on stages across America this upcoming summer. She’s booked several upcoming tours, including one with the much anticipated Boys of Summer, which will be stopping in several cities across the US beginning in July. “Boys of Summer is going to be my first 18 city tour!” Ryn exclaims. “I’ve toured with the anti-bullying All Star Nation group; but this time, it will be really cool to be fully submerged with all the other artists. We’re gonna be on a tour bus together, meeting up and hanging out with other artists. I’m excited to go to these cities too because a lot of people have asked me to come to them. so that’s awesome. It’s a meet and greet tour which I love, because I want to meet the people who have come to meet me. I want to know them and connect with their story, because that helps me as a songwriter to write more and to write better.”
Working as a songwriter was an exciting, if slightly nerve-wracking experience for the X-Factor finalist. Drew Ryn started out on The X-Factor as a cover singer, but found herself recreating lots of songs as she sang them. “I recreated – almost rewrote – ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber as my audition song, but when I went to write an original song the first time with my team, I was like ‘I don’t know how to do this!’ and they were like ‘You do it literally every time you’re on stage!’” she laughs. Now, Ryn has found great success as an original songwriter - one of her songs for Chinese boy band TF Boys has even landed on the Top Ten in Billboard China.
Currently, she’s working with Blasterjaxx on an upcoming single. “I love those guys—they’re the homies!” Ryn says of the DJ duo. When asked how that collaboration came about, Ryn says “I work with a bunch of DJs. The DJs I first worked with are from Israel, and they asked me to do a song with them, and that led to a bunch of DJs around the world asking me to work with them.” The rest is history. For Ryn, working with Blasterjaxx is awesome—”That was a pivotal moment for me,” she explains. “I love that even thought it’s a dance tune, I can write it like a ballad. And I love that music is the way that we can communicate. Even though we don’t all speak the same language, we can all enjoy music.”
So what’s next for this talented singer-songwriter who has turned her “Problems” and X-Factor beginnings into a winning formula for success?
Ryn currently has another single coming out in the next month. “It’s the second part of ‘Problems,’ the ‘what happens after,’ so stay tuned for that,” she says. She’s also working on a clothing line. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was 14 to have my own clothing line. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was a kid, so it’s exciting to see my dreams for my life manifesting.” Her line is called “Matr” and you can find it under the hashtag #wematr. “It’s unisex streetwear, clothes for everyone. It doesn’t lean too girly or too boyish—I wanted everyone to be comfortable and to feel good in their clothes,” she explains.
Cover photo by Robbie Larsen.