Ryan McPhun was born in California, but his music career really started in New Zealand. He moved here at age 19, already a fan of local bands The Brunettes and The Tokey Tones, and wasted little time before handing over his demo tape to the men behind the bands, Jonathan Bree and Scott Manion. That pair went on to found Lil’ Chief Records, and Ryan found himself drumming in, “around 10 bands. Basically every Lil’ Chief band”.
One of those was The Reduction Agents, led by James Milne, who went on to make music as Lawrence Arabia. Their one album The Dance Reduction Agents was recently re-released on vinyl for its 10th anniversary, and a new record entitled Waiting For your Love featuring Reduction Agents covers from the likes of Liam Finn, Tiny Ruins and Samuel Flynn Scott saw release too. When asked if he feels fortunate to have been part of such an iconic record when freshly immigrated, Ryan says “It was just luck really that I found these people in Auckland who were all into the same things.”
In the decade since then Ryan has found success with his own project, The Ruby Suns, releasing four albums to international acclaim on labels like Memphis Industries and the legendary Sub Pop. The first three- The Ruby Suns, Sea Lion, and Fight Softly- were recorded in New Zealand, but the fourth, Christopher, was made in Ryan’s new home of Norway.
In this chat with Music 101, Ryan talks about moving countries in pursuit of love (twice), fatherhood, and what we can expect from his forthcoming fifth album.