Interview: Ryan Follese Effortlessly Floats His Boat Into Country Music


Ryan Follese isn’t a stranger to the music industry, nor is he new to our radio stations or iPods, but he is a freshman in the current class of country music artists.

Follese is perhaps best recognized as a member of the successful pop rock band Hot Chelle Rae, which garnered a double platinum single, “Tonight, Tonight,” in 2011. However, the talented singer-songwriter and musician is now one of the newest Big Machine Label Group artists to grace country radio, floating his boat into the genre and receiving a warm reception.

Follese grew up in a very musical family, but his parents encouraged him to do whatever floats his boat when it came to choosing a career. He was urged to go to school, explore his options, lay some educational groundwork, and pursue whatever his heart wanted when he entered adulthood. Regardless, Follese’s future was always somewhat predetermined, calling himself a “sponge” in his home.

When you’re little like that, growing up in a creatively free household where typical every day rules don’t apply to your upbringing and choices as far as school and job go, it definitely enabled me to take bigger risks and do things like spend my college money on making demos. I don’t know whose parents would let them do that unless they were musical. So, I have to say that, whether I know it or not, I’m completely a product of my environment.

Follese has followed the free spirit way of life into his career, experiencing success in one genre and dabbling into others when the timing has felt right for him as an artist. While he is very much in the early days as a country artist, he is already seeing the fruits of his labor, as his debut single, “Float Your Boat,” sailed into Sirius XM’s The Highway regular rotation seamlessly.

I’m in country music to stay. This is where I grew up, this is home to me, this is where I want to be. I did the whole record with my parents and my brother and my best friend, and the transition’s been, honestly, it’s not that it’s been easy. It’s been effortless for me, and it feels natural to me, and I’m getting to do, truthfully, what I want to do, and tell the story I want to tell, and I’m hoping people love the record as much as I do.

Despite having already gone through the days of being a new artist, one thing Follese has really enjoyed about entering a different genre is reliving the introductory phase and witnessing the reactions of fans to his music.

Having it be brand new and it being brand new for the first time again has been a really fun experience. It’s been fun putting out a new song, and The Highway is playing the heck out of it, but it reaching the number of people it’s been reaching, it is kind of trippy, man. It’s kind of weird knowing I was sitting up in my parents’ studio with them and just wrote this tune one day and it’s hitting this many people. It’s kind of a wild, wild thought.

As a brand new artist for the first time again, fans of Follese and the country music genre are wondering what he has in store for them and what it sounds like to go from a hit like “Tonight, Tonight” to something completely different. Don’t overthink it, folks. It is really quite simple for Follese, and, as he said, effortless to transition. This is because he has created an EP that has something for everybody.

I’ve seriously lived, breathed, sweat, cried, and everything over the last three years putting this thing together. I just feel like if anybody out there is going to do anything, this is the music that will help them tell that story and relate to those feelings. I mean, music is feeling, and that’s what it is. It’s not necessarily about how it sounds, it’s about the story it tells.

Follese intends to bring his stories out on the road over the next several months, visiting many radio stations in a variety of towns, playing songs on his acoustic guitar. He will also be playing some dates this Fall with LOCASH, and is hoping to find himself on a stage, any stage where he can share his talent, in the Spring.

To stay up-to-date with Ryan Follese, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and his website. His debut country EP is out and can be downloaded on iTunes now.