Rylai – Issues (Can you let go of me?) | Heartfelt Indigo Ballad
South Korean musician Rylai releases a stunning pop song with his latest single titled Issues (Can you let go of me?). Rylai makes pop music with a neo-soul feel and is contemporary in its treatment of production and songwriting. The Seoul-based artist started with youtube covers of Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, among other artists. This while donning a fascinating robot head that syncs lips and eye expressions. The single artwork features an anime-style on the beach in white and blue-purple hues.
Issues makes use of chopped vocals with acoustic guitars in the song arrangement. Usually, modern pop tracks have guitars not used prominently or as a gimmick. However, the acoustic guitars on Issues are used aptly in an electronic pop context among other well-done production aspects. Rylai’s vocals and music channels artists like Usher, Sam Smith, and Bruno Mars. While he explored rap and hip-hop with his previous release Testimony, Issues has Rylai flexing his R&B chops and vocal prowess.
Rylai’s vocal performance of the song shows his stunning singing talent which would give The Weeknd a run for his money. Another aspect that would make Abel Tesfaye happy would be the song’s warm and dark R&B tone. The song lyrically deals with an ending relationship due to issues that are unavoidable. The sonic scope of the track with diversity from the laid-back energy, and formidable falsettos keeps you mesmerized. With Issues (Can you let go of me?), we see Rylai developing himself as a holistic songwriter, vocalist, and artist with a unique voice.
We get to speak to Rylai about the song.
1. The vocal mixing and the creation of space in the reverbs sound stunning in Issues. What was the mix like in your head and how did you see that it matches the vision in your head?
Shout out to Jeremie Inhaber for delivering perfection on the vocal mixing on Issues. I was having vague thoughts about the song’s overall tone that it should sound emotional and beautiful. After sending files back and forth about 3 times, we were able to come up with a tone that matched my vision. Then we worked a little bit more from there and finished up the song.
2. What is the story behind anime-style artwork of Issues? While Testimony had some cerebral themes, Issues is more about bittersweet love. What is the thematic lyrical template you had in mind when coming up with the song?
This amazing artwork is illustrated by Sika (시카). I came across her artwork in a Korean internet community. I loved her art style and was surprised that her arts fit perfectly with the theme/mood of the songs. So I contacted her and could make artwork for those songs. “Issues” is about my experience with a relationship that tragically ended. The person I’m conveying the lyrics to and I didn’t do much to destroy the relationship, but the situation around us made the relationship can’t go on. Devastating for both people.
3. You have made use of the acoustic guitar to good effect in an electronic pop context among other well done production aspects. What was the recording and production process of the song like?
The song uses the beat from SAFIN. I came across the beat while I was searching for beats on youtube. When I first heard the beat, I could come up with a good melody on the spot, and that’s where I started. The original title of the beat was “Issue,” so I thought maybe I should write about something with my own issues. After I wrote the lyrics, I knew the lyrics needed emotional and beautiful-sounding vocals, so I tried hard to deliver that, and I did it. Thanks to my friends Joo Young and Enoch for assisting me with critical feedback while recording and mixing the songs. They helped me make the song sound much better!
4. Being from Seoul, SK, how do you as an individual artist try to express yourself musically while attempting to make a mark in the crowd and blitz that is Kpop?
I’m a new artist. I’m figuring out how to make a mark in this big, big world. I’m very confident in what I write and how I perform. But music is still a business; unfortunately, I’m not a businessman and feel like a little bit lost. I hope I can find my way somehow. I want to burst out my potential.
5. Curious to know the idea behind the robot head in your covers? Is it gonna make a comeback in your future videos?
Before I started recording my vocals, I was digging into producing music. I was deeply into EDM at the time. Lots of DJs I liked wore a helmet, so the helmet idea was very spontaneous to me. Somebody at the time suggested the idea of uploading cover songs to get attention, so I was like, what if I make cover videos with a helmet that tracks the mouth and facial expression and shows it as an 8-bit dot character on the screen? I shared the idea with a good friend of mine, and we spent months making it, so we came up with the helmet.
Although it was a fun project, but I don’t think I will pursue my musical career wearing the helmet. It’s a lot of work to track faces frame by frame. I don’t know, maybe if there are special occasions I can wear it.
6. From rap in your last release Testimony to crooning vocals which would give The Weeknd a run for his money. Was that a conscious shift or do you prefer to exist in both musical spaces for vocal expression?
Oh, thank you for checking out Testimony! Testimony is definitely different from the ones I usually make. Testimony came out because I stumbled upon the beat and thought it was really great. And I felt like I have to do something with it. But I would like to exist in different musical spaces, if the song is good, I want to make it.
7. What are your upcoming projects and are we gonna hear you rap more or sing more?
You’ll be going to hear me sing more. There are beats that I downloaded thinking of rap toplines, but most of them are melodies.
If you think Testimony is going in a lyrically specific direction, and Issues is going at a particular theme, you’re right. The story of those songs follows each other; they are part of the bigger story plots. I’ve recorded several songs. There is a song that connects the story between Testimony and Issues. There is a song that marks a climax and a song that concludes the story. I hope I can finish these stories and complete this album. Please support me with my musical journey and wish me luck!