“I would never tell someone to drop out of school, but the reality is that the longer that I tried to keep one foot in security, things didn’t happen as much for me”. That was the advice given to multi instrumentalist and songwriter Ryan Camenzuli at the ripe age of 17 by his early mentor and major musical influence Miles Cooper Seaton of Akron/Family. Young and Eager to make music, Ryan befriended the avant rock veteran after unconvincingly trying to coax his way into an 18+ Akron/Family show in Williamsburg on his own. “It was dumb luck that I met Miles outside the venue and got in, It was even luckier that he was actually interested in listening to my music, let alone having in depth conversations about it”. Their friendship led to many late night talks ranging from making “dangerous recordings with style”, the “extremes of making your music special”, and even some ribbing about the “stubble stash” that Ryan was trying to grow out at the time.
Five years later, after graduating from college and playing in a multitude of bands (most notably, his last project Wild International), Ryan (better known to his friends as Zuli) finally took his mentor’s advice and immersed himself in nothing but music. Starting from square one, Ryan moved back to his hometown on Long Island to focus on writing and recording on his own. The result would soon become his off-kilter Psych Pop debut EP, Supernatural Voodoo.
Taking on the role of performing every instrument and conceptualizing every spaced out sound on the record himself, Ryan found clarity in isolation. “This record is about growth in every sense”, says Ryan. “I was changing as a person, as a creative being, and diving into a new headspace of how I’d go about writing and recording”. Looking to build something from the ground up (including the guitar that he used for the majority of the record), Ryan spent several months in his home studio tinkering with his equipment and exploring the creative wormhole he dug himself into.
“My goal was to write songs that are emotionally honest and timeless, yet intricate and textured. I wanted to expand my pallet by building a new instrument as well as utilizing and revamping the way I could use the equipment I already own. I found myself pairing unlikely combinations like guitar pedals and microphones, vocal processors and keyboards, as well as conceptualizing new guitar pick ups”.
In short, developing the sound for Supernatural Voodoo was an amalgam of on the spot thinking and the picturesque idea of a songwriter with his guitar. The overall process found Zuli walking a tightrope that bridged the void between familiarity and the unknown.
When linking up with his mentor, Miles had this to say about Zuli’s new EP. “I hear focus in the level of precision and clarity in Ryan’s new music. I hear that determined presence and curiosity that is integral to making any time based art of a higher order. Of course I also hear the amicability and social awareness of pop and true generosity and vulnerability in the earnestness of the singing and lyrics. In short, it sounds real, and it sounds real good and I’m glad to get a chance to catch up with him now”.
Taking influence from his earlier work and following his intuition, on Supernatural Voodoo, Zuli has found a balance between Psychadelic soundscaping and traditional, emotive songwriting.
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