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Tu-Kay & Ryan: “We wanted to create a nostalgic track with a positive message and sentiment that would resonate”

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Tu-Kay & Ryan

Northants duo Tu-Kay & Ryan have been wowing audiences for the past two years with their melodic folk-rock. As they prep an album and release single ‘A Little Time’, New Boots had a word.

Tell us, how did Tu-Kay & Ryan get together?
Rebecca: We met through a fellow musician and friend, the local legend that is Tim Jon Brophy. He was recording with Ash at Tu-kay Records in April 2018 and asked me to do backing vocals on his album. We kind of hit it off straight away, and started to collaborate on some of Ash’s unfinished projects. The first tracks we released together were as Ash Tu-kay featuring Rebecca Ryan. You can find them on Spotify. We became good friends quickly, had a mutual passion for creating new music and a shared vision for promoting a positive message.  Once it was clear we could tolerate each other for substantial periods of time, Tu-kay & Ryan was formed in October 2018.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
Our sound is quite varied, but we think the genre we probably fit best into is alternative-folk, or country-folk. However we often try to incorporate elements of other genres into the music we create for added flavour and appeal, such as rock (‘Tipping Point’), latin (‘Getting It On’) and jazz (‘Get What You Get’).
Rebecca: My taste is quite eclectic and I grew up listening to artists like Joni Mitchell, The Carpenters and David Bowie. Now I am really influenced by newer artists like The Staves and Allen Stone.
Ash: I have always really been into rock and the rock sound, however I also loved growing up listening to Phil Collins, REM, Enya, Fleetwood Mac & Michael Jackson amongst other popular artists of the time. It wasn’t till later in my teens that I discovered the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against The Machine, which were a massive influence to me. In my time at uni and working over the years since in producing music, I have been more inspired by new and emerging music from the original artists I have seen, heard and recorded. This has influenced me a lot leading up to the point Rebecca and I started working together.

What was the reaction like to those EPs from 2019?
We were really touched by the response to the EPs. The lyrics and harmonies really seem to resonate with people. When we played the songs at gigs, we often had people approach us after to say how much the loved a particular song and how it really meant something to them. This was really humbling and is always lovely to hear, especially as a lot of our songs were written based on our own experiences and perspectives. Our goal was and still is to write music with a positive message, which speaks of things we can all relate to.

Tell us about this new single, ‘A Little Time’.
We wrote it during lockdown. We had been learning songs for live streams, one of which was ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ by Carole King. We wanted to create a nostalgic track with a positive message and sentiment that would hopefully resonate with people, and provide them with a sense of self value and worth.

What are your live shows like?
Although we take our music very seriously, we do like to have a laugh and banter with each other, and it seems our audiences like it too. Our shows are vibrant and warm; you can expect a mix of original songs and covers that express the message we hope to convey: positivity and a sense of purpose. We like to interact with our audience, making everyone feel welcome, almost like they are sat in their living room with friends.

Tell us a bit about the Stoke Bruerne scene you cultivate; the church shows, the studio etc.
Quite soon after we started working together, we decided we wanted to run events under the brand ‘Audio Vendor’ to support local original artists. We started them in Woodward’s Restaurant at The Boat Inn, and then later approached St Mary the Virgin Church about having a biannual event there. The idea was to combine intimate and epic environments to showcase local talent, and provide the audience with a memorable experience.
We record each event, edit the sound and footage and produce good quality videos the acts can use for their own promotional purposes. ‘Local’ has become as far afield as Cambridge, Leicester and London, showcasing some top quality acts, such as Ward and Parker, Chris Fox and many more.  You can watch most of the videos by heading over to the Audio Vendor YouTube page, where you can subscribe to keep up to date. We’ve had to postpone the events for now, so you may be waiting a while for the next instalment! #saveourevents
Ash: I was living above my family pub – The Boat Inn, Stoke Bruerne – in a small bedsit, which I later realised was next to a large, unused attic space – separated by a single brick thick wall. Long story short, I decided to convert it in a purpose-built project recording studio, and a larger living space. Almost a year later I had started to record artists and bands in the project studio, including Tim Jon Brophy and Chris Brown [hazeyjane]. The advantage of having this space means we can record and produce our own music in our own studio. It makes it a lot cheaper and there’s less judgement when we don’t get it right! It’s a humble studio, but the results speak for themselves, which we are incredibly proud of.

How has lockdown been for you? Helped or hindered your creativity?
To be honest it has really helped us, as it has given us a little time to focus on creating new material for our upcoming album. We really want this album to stand out from the EPs that came before, and show that we have developed as a duo. Lockdown has given us more time to refine songs, as the original plan was to release the album in the summer of 2020.
Rebecca: I was recovering from a broken ankle at the start of lockdown, so was really helpful to have a focus. Ash is great at pushing me out of my comfort zone and coming up with new creative concepts. We have written quite a few new songs since March, which we intend to include on the album. Livestreams have also helped to keep me sane. Quite a few people seem to really appreciate our efforts during this time, reaching out to us directly to express their gratitude.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
It has been a while since either of us streamed a whole album. But we have discovered some really great unsigned artists through the live streaming community that has emerged as a result of lockdown. Does that count?
Ash: I can’t say I’ve streamed an entire album recently, but many singles and playlists, with a mix of old and new music. I do tend to listen to the radio whilst driving as a source of inspiration, depending on what is played. My go-to track seems to be Incubus ‘Dig’ at the moment. There’s something about the sonic content of the track, I really like.
Rebecca: I have listened to a lot of local artists like Celine Ellis and Kenneth J Nash. It is great to see them getting such positive responses for their newest releases. We are all about supporting other singer-songwriters, so it is lovely to see them getting the recognition they deserve.

What is your burning desire for Tu-Kay & Ryan to do in the future? What plans do you have?
We are passionate about promoting an optimistic message and inspiring positive social change. We want to play music as much as possible in whatever way we can. We really hope to play as far and wide as possible and we love to use this as an excuse to travel and experience places we love or have never been. We would really love to be able to fund a tour at some point in the future. We really hope as we grow as a duo, that more and more people will really connect with our music and message.

‘A Little Time’ by Tu-Kay & Ryan is out now on the usual digital platfoms. An album will follow in 2021.

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