Everyone loves a success story, especially if it’s someone they’ve known or with whom they’ve brushed elbows – the Lower Clarence’s Ry X, who is on the cover of the June 17 French Rolling Stone magazine, is one of those success stories and, potentially, he might soon become a global name on the lips of music lovers, as well as makers and shakers clamouring for a piece of the action.
But there will be one thing moderating any exploitation by those hoping to profit from his bandwagon … the man himself. The last time I spoke at length with him in 2008, he was considering his next move as the end of his then record contract approached.
“I’m in a very exciting, lucky position,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky enough and things have come together at a really good time. I’ve got really good people around me and I’ve got three major labels saying they want me [but] … I won’t be signing something that I don’t really believe in.”
His appreciation of having “good people around me” is no accident, says his father Peter; he believes that Woodford Dale Public School and the community that supported it laid the foundations for how X has conducted his career.
X’s non-performing name is Ry Cuming and, while it might be a cliché to describe his career as a ‘journey’, the seed of his travelling itinerary was planted growing up on Woodford Island before his family moved to Angourie and its surf-centred culture.
“It takes a community to raise a child,” Peter said, “and that’s what the school provided.
“It was a one-room school with nine to 20 kids and a long history of having close relationships with the kids and parents who played active roles in shaping their education.
“People pulled together and fostered creativity, as well academic results; the open classroom looked after the younger kids, creating an environment where kids took responsibility for themselves.
“I think that foundational part of his life helped Ry conduct himself with things like touring and cooperating with others to achieve his goals, all while retaining his perspective and individual way of looking at life.
“His mum, Robyn, and step mum, Eshana, have played major parts in supporting Ry to achieve his goals; and he has a close relationship with his older sister, Honor, whose loving support and creativity is special to him.”
X’s determination to follow his dreams and muse have led him to a place occupied by performing artists who bring something unique to their art – or as the New York Times put it in 2016: “His voice is a pearly, androgynous tenor, a vessel for liquid melancholy that blurs words at the edges. He stretches pop structures with repetition that grows devotional, obsessive, hypnotic.”
Based In Los Angeles, X has made the cover of the French version of Rolling Stone magazine – it was in Europe where he really began making his mark in the music industry and where he is currently touring.
When asked in 2008, ‘What’s next for you?”, at a time when record companies were offering him million-dollar deals, he answered, “My career right now? I’d say it’s been a blur of amazing things over the last couple of months and it’s blossoming. It’s something that could be really wonderful in the next year or so. I think it’s on the verge of tipping over into a really successful time, both artistically and commercially.
“[But], I think it’s important that you stay grounded. I’ve learnt that from playing on the street whenever I needed to be playing for my supper while travelling the world. I think you need to be humble in what you’re doing and not get caught up in [the hype of the entertainment business]. It’s a world full of temptations and things that are starry eyed, but you have to see what is real and what isn’t.”
In 2008, I wrote at the end of the interview: ‘While Cuming acknowledges the part that good fortune has played in his success so far, the impression remains that of a man who knows how to communicate his thoughts and feelings – whether artistically, personally or in business – while making the best of any luck that comes his way.’
In 2022, X’s star is on the rise … the fruition of staying true to his aspirations, following his muse and not compromising the vision he painted the last time we spoke.
Oh, and he’s just co-written and co-produced a song, Sticky, on Drake’s latest album, Honestly, Nevermind, which is Apple Music’s biggest dance album in its history for first-day streams worldwide, Billboard has reported.
Check out Variance Magazine’s interview, ‘RY X on embracing imperfection, sharing such intimate moments on celestial new record ‘Blood Moon’, for what he’s been up to during the pandemic … and what lies ahead.
Listen to Ry X’s Live from the Royal Albert Hall here.