Introducing: Pillow Fort
Ryan live at The Shed, Leicester.
Whilst lockdown has left a lot of us wondering what to do, Ryan Crick decided to crack on with his new project Pillow Fort. He's been working hard writing and recording from home. We caught up with him to find out more about the project and what he's been working on.
The Flipside: How did Pillow Fort start? Ryan: When I started playing guitar about two years ago, I was desperate to play live. I forced myself on stage playing covers at open mics before I could hold a barre chord, and was writing from the very start. Once I started to be comfortable and had some songs written (however bad the first few were) I needed a name and Pillow Fort spawned from that.
There was an initial attempt to start it up as a full band last year, but that sputtered out quite quickly, and looking back, I think it was for the best that I waited and started making music at my own pace.
The Flipside: How many people are involved in the project? Ryan: Pillow Fort is my solo project. I write everything and if I can't do something, I'll do my best to learn. When it comes to gigging I have a few different groups of friends that have offered to play with me, and I can see the lineup changing frequently depending on where my writing goes, as it seems to be evolving song by song right now. I'm still very much undecided if I want to bring others in as permanent members of the band, or if I want to keep it as a personal project.
The Flipside: How would you describe your music for someone that has never listened before?
Ryan: That's a tough one! I'd like to imagine Weezer (Pinkerton era) and American Football had a very angry baby and birthed my style. Think emo, and maybe a bit of pop-punk - even if I do try to avoid it. The Flipside: Which artists influence you the most?
Ryan: My influences are basically just my favourite bands! Hearing bands like Modern Baseball and Free Throw showed me that I don't need a traditionally good singing voice to make music, so I leaned into it and became what I am now. Throw in a few musical influences from bands like Origami Angel and Algernon Cadwallader and you get to the music I've written most recently. I'm sure if you ask me this question in a couple months I'll answer something completely different as I start to listen to more bands and they skew me one way or another.
Ryan live at The Cookie, Leicester
The Flipside: You’ve been releasing singles throughout lockdown. Have you had to change your approach to releasing music during the pandemic?
Ryan: I'm in a strange position in that I never released anything pre-lockdown, so I've never been on the release cycle while being able to gig to advertise and spread the word. I think this probably makes it more difficult, especially as I find it difficult to be active on social media in the way I'd like to be. With social media being the only way to get the music out there right now, I've taken the approach of putting out covers to my pages to build engagement around releases, but there's only so far that'll go!
The Flipside: Who would be your dream band/artist to tour with?
Ryan: If I had to choose one, I know it'd be PUP! They have the most energetic crowds, they seem like great people, plus just some amazing music to get to hear every night. That would truly be a blessing!
If I got to choose a band that's no longer active, it'd be my absolute favourites in Modern Baseball. Those shows were always brilliant, and they're my single biggest inspiration in terms of wanting to play the music that I do.
The Flipside: Where is your favourite venue to play?
Ryan: The Shed's [Leicester] where I've played most for so many different gigs, bands, events, open mics, whatever else. There's no way anywhere else even comes close.
The Flipside: Can you talk us through the process of writing and recording your music?
Ryan: So my writing process has been different for every single song I've written, I think I'm just very chaotic! I can't comprehend being able to sit and plan when I want to write a song; without the chaos I think my music loses something.
For my latest release Nelson Muntz Had an Absent Father Too, the music came fast. I was fiddling around with tunings, played the li'l intro section and it stuck. From there, I had the verse riff in seconds and it all grew from there. Lyrics were more difficult and took some thought to build melodies, I tend to get my brain stuck into one melody (even if I don't like it) and I find it really difficult to stray from that, so I have to force myself to take time away to reset.
As for the other releases, Waterfowl was written in about half an hour! I sat down with my acoustic guitar at 8am in the morning, started playing and didn't stop... It just came naturally. For This Time, I had the idea for the spoken word section at the end but nothing to go with it, started layering guitar parts and after going through 6 or 7 versions, I settled on what happened in the final release.
Find Pillow Fort on Spotify here.
The Flipside: What’s been your favourite achievement with Pillow Fort so far?
Ryan: Honestly, just being able to finish 3 songs totally by myself is the most amazing thing to me, no matter the quality of what comes out at the end. I set out to record, finish and release three songs in lockdown, and that's exactly what I did. The whole thing was a learning process, and you can hear the progression from starting out with no experience recording music on a Blue Snowball microphone for Waterfowl, to what I've managed with Nelson Muntz. It's a small thing to anyone that's put out music before, but for me this is big.
The Flipside: Assuming that live shows will be able to resume next year, which festivals/venues are you planning to go to and play?
Ryan: Well the band's debut gig was scheduled for March 24th (with a lineup consisting of 50% of Scumbag Lion, would have been sick) and was going to be at The Hind supporting Sweet Amber; would have been nice for that to actually happen, but who knows, maybe it can be rescheduled. Honestly at this point I just want to be able to gig and share the music I've written over the past year, so I'll be aiming to clear all the local stages at least once each.
The Flipside: Give us five (or more) artists that you think we and our readers should be checking out.
Ryan: Friends/Locals you should give all of your love and support because they're doing incredible stuff (or will be when gigs are back on) - Scumbag Lion, Saving Jake, We Give In., Dogs On Stilts, Cj2 and Sweet Amber.
Some of my favourite bands that you should also check out - Oso Oso, Fresh, Don't Worry, Microwave, and of course: Modern Baseball.
The Flipside: How do we follow and keep updated with Pillow Fort?