The African Alchemist (Documentary)

I'MPOSSIBLE The African Alchemist

 

A New Web Documentary Series Called I’MPOSSIBLE

Subscribe to the YouTube Channel today and watch the previews and catch the first episode when it is released.

Season One

Just how much can one determined artist who lives out of a suitcase and has no home base do on their own?

Impossible is a mindset!

If you say you can, you’re right. If you say you can’t, you’re also right!

Despite the odds … #iAmPossible!

The first season focuses on my latest international tour that started in my native Zimbabwe, taking me and my guitar to 27 cities in 13 countries in the space of a year.

The episodes will delve deeper into the how, the where and the why!

The Drowning In Space tour (#DIStour) is in support of my latest digital single that was recorded in the magical Victoria Falls Zimbabwe.

This marks the 5th year in a row I have played in as many countries on each cycle, spanning 4 continents. All independent, without management, booking agents or any outside assistance in today’s over-cluttered music landscape where the industry only tends to get involved once you’ve landed on the moon in your own home-made spaceship.

Just how much can one determined artist do on their own? Quite a lot it seems …

 

I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #1 – Yes, We Speak English In Africa + Ethnic Diversity

Judging by the numerous conversations I have with people from all over the world, I had to start off by addressing common misconceptions.

I spend a lot of time having to explain why I speak English (which is my first language) and advocating the idea of a Zimbabwean Ed Sheeran or Zimbabwean John Mayer (Global Top 40/Pop Artist) as opposed to the clichéd World Music,  Afro-Jazz etc

 

I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #2 – You Can’t Build When You’re Always In Survival Mode

Despite my circumstances, one mindset I have adopted to help me achieve success is to not just be surviving… but somehow make sure I am surviving… forwards!

Life begins where fear ends

Never give up!!

 

I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #3 – The Snow Hath Returned!

After family goodbyes at the airport, it was time to hit the skies, starting with South Africa then moving onto Europe and Scandinavia… It’s cold in Scandinavia! Brrr!!

 

I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #4 – Zimbabwean Ed Sheeran

Like Ed Sheeran, I write pop songs, play acoustic guitar, perform solo whether it be in a pub, club or on a festival main stage, but instead of looping a beat or my voice, I play live drums with my feet (kick, snare, hi-hat) and sing my own vocal delay in real time, live.

Here’s what some more fans have to say about it…

 

I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #5 – Ibiza – The Kygo Effect

I love Dance music. I have released a Beatport-charting House single that was remixed by a few hundred producers and I would love to pitch my vocals to and write a single with Kygo, and a few other Dance Artists I digg like Coldplay, Calvin Harris, DJ Snake, Alan Walker, RudimentalAvicii, Roger Sanchez and Bob Sinclar.

I went to Ibiza to see if it could become my European base while I somehow work towards my dream move to the US.

 

I’MPOSSIBLE Preview #6 – The Dream Team

The #DIStour culminated in the US where I was based in my dream location of Nashville TN for the Summer. A town that I’d love to live in and assemble a dream team to keep this stellar rocket flying way past the moon!

Allow me to demonstrate some of why I love the US and its music culture…

 

Please share this page/these videos and help give this project a great start as I continue to work towards inspiring others and continue sharing how I am single-handedly building the seemingly impossible with the help of a few powerful mindsets.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel to get each webisode as it is released: http://www.youtube.com/RyanKoriyaVideo

Signup by email on www.ryankoriya.com and get insider access to my adventure of a lifetime!

Ryan

The African Alchemist

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African Alchemy:

Samora Machel Avenue

Tonight, I packed up my belongings and moved out of a room in the Danish capital of Copenhagen’s Amager district in which I’d lived for the past three months tying up a three-month residency of gigs.

An interesting fact hit me as I filled my suitcase with the various belongings that had been allowed enough time to park outside of their small permanent wheelie home …

These last three months mark the longest period of time that I’ve lived in the same room since April 2012!… true story! (It is now November 2015!)

Since 2012, I’ve been no less than a rolling stone, going to The UK (multiple times), Belgium (twice), The Netherlands (at least five times), Germany (three times), Spain (once), The US (twice), Australia (twice), New Zealand (once), Zimbabwe (three times), South Africa (twice), Zambia (twice), Denmark (five times), Sweden (twice) and I’m off to play in Norway for the first time in two weeks 🙂

Most people ask two things, first… ‘why?’ and secondly… ‘how?!’

I finally read the book called The Alchemist a couple of weeks ago and now I see why people have been bringing it up and recommending it to me for years. It’s a story of a boy shepherd who spends years walking with his sheep and goes on an incredible international journey in search of his own personal legend that ends up making him very, very rich and wise. He even gets to marry the woman of his dreams, quite literally.

Born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, over shadowed by financial difficulties, I’ve never been one to let my circumstances limit the size of my dreams (and I am very ambitious by nature). I’ve always been interested in getting bigger, better and going far in whatever I set my heart on.

Your attitude determines your altitude

African Alchemy:

How does one go from being grounded in Africa for two and a half years with an empty bank account to performing on four continents numerous times, playing solo and releasing new music by carrying around about fifty kilograms of luggage and recording gear, as shown in this video?:

The How (abridged):

In mid 2012, I had about 100 USD to my name and was living by the majestic Victoria Falls where I moved to from Harare knowing no one in that town apart from a face or two I’d seen at the festival I played there. Why did I move there?

It was the way that place made me ‘feel‘ whenever I was there for a few days at a time to perform. There’s a sense of calm and a sense of community in that transient little town by the mighty Zambezi River.

tom-varley-victoria-falls-zimbabwe
Victoria Falls by Tom Varley (www.facebook.com/tomvarleyphotography)

I had started focusing on following my heart/intuition more, no matter how crazy it seemed and did less worrying about what people are ‘supposed’ to do or what is ‘expected’ of me…

By November that year, I flew back to London armed with my new EP recorded in my backpacker bedroom studio. Still low on cash,  I had never been to any of the countries mentioned above apart from The UK, The US and the ones in Africa. Focusing on what I did have, I opted to use my newly acquired European passport to actually see places I would have found it hard or impossible to get to on a non-EU passport. I was and still am a full-time musician and I couldn’t afford to rent in London or anywhere really so it was time to improvise with the accommodation thing.

Bedroom Studio
My bedroom studio in Victoria Falls at Shoestrings Backpackers in 2012

My main focus was to keep performing and growing as an artist. Nothing great ever came without sacrifice and yes, of course I’d like to have my own home one day. I totally plan on owning a wonderful home that will be fully paid for by my art/skill. I may not have much money right now but I am very aware and grateful for the many other riches I already possess.

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

One of my greatest tools is to focus on what I do have and to start from there. I can get very far, when at the start of each day I am aware of my travel-friendly passport, my network of friends/family, my musical/artistic talents, my sense of humour (audience members often tell me I should become a comedian lol), my various computer skills, my intrinsic optimistic nature, my great passion for singing, my huge desire to excel, my boundless energy and current good health along with the other gifts I already have at my disposal including the very day itself that I get to live through. Life is a precious gift!

When starting to build your dream from scratch: If you learn to use what you already have, you won’t need what you have not, the rest will manifest in time – Ryan Koriya

Dream Time

Which brings me to…

The ‘Why’:

To build a successful music career takes quite a lot of money and support from the relevant sectors of the entertainment industry. I was quite deficient in both of these at the time and so rather than give up or be tied down by an office job to pay for a small room in an expensive city, thus relegating my music to the lower ranks of my time and energy banks, (with such an evolving industry as is the modern music world that is full of new possibilities), I opted to start building my career from the ground up. Brick by brick on my own, fan by fan, show by show, song by song, lesson by lesson, new skill by new skill, hurdle by hurdle.

Most importantly, like an Olympic athlete who trains every single day, I am now a musician who is at the top of his game, ready to perform and entertain at the drop of a hat having just sang in public (gigs) for around 210 hours (actual singing time) in the last three months alone, and that’s not including any singing I did in practice.

Besides, isn’t travelling globally and performing music what the well-known successful artists do?!

So that means I am now already living the dream. Being an artist is a lifestyle and it is who I am everyday. I create and perform, I have people in the countries listed above and more, who have already heard my music and who have met me in person, or know someone who has met me.

The fandom has begun, it may be small now, but it is already pretty spread out and bubbling. I’m building a career to last unlike the prominent flash-in-the-pan mentality of today. One day, I envisage all of these RK supporters becoming one big community of fans when the crucial hype machine finally kicks in.

Cairns Couple
New fans in Cairns Australia with their bird upon shoulder in 2015 🙂

Thinking back, as a Zimbabwean kid who took four years and three months just to get out of the then sanctioned country overcoming what seemed like a dead end situation, dreaming about a successful international music career, it now feels like it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but more a matter of ‘when’!

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

– William Ernest Henley

Going for gold!

www.ryankoriya.com

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The Magic Of Berlin:

The first time I ever saw Berlin was for three quick days in August 2013. I had heard so many great things about this Bohemian city and after spending a whole month in Amsterdam whilst touring the Netherlands, it was time!

I took a train from Amsterdam to Berlin (en route to Denmark for the first time) and only a few steps from getting off the train, this is how I knew it was going to be special!

I was on my way up some escalators in this massive bee hive of a grand station that is Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof when I heard a loud voice over some kind of loud system. A man booming away in German, not the kind to possibly be talking about train timetables or suspicious unattended baggage, then my eyes raised up above the floor level to reveal what was a spectacular first sight…

Berlin

Berlin

A woman sitting on a chair in the middle of the station floor, starting to play the cello in between her legs as a single couple danced the Tango. This scene was enveloped by a whole choir framed by a specially built makeshift structure. The choir then broke up into Tangoing couples shimmying across the station floor!

Berlin

If this is my introduction to Berlin, I’m in love already!!!

I ended up watching this whole affair for about an hour before going to address my hunger issues. Mind you, this was stumbled upon at about 11pm.

(See more of my colourful Berlin photos by clicking here)

Berlin

My train had arrived about two hours late I think it was. Talking about German efficiency, they seemed quite embarrassed by the whole thing and I was even reimbursed some of my ticket by filling in the forms that were handed out as we arrived into town. I went on to have a superb three days of music, connecting with people and learning about this new playground I’d discovered.

So it wasn’t any surprise that the following Spring, I was back in Berlin, just fresh from releasing my first-ever single Ghostrider from my temporary base in The Netherlands, having run out of funds and no success with any of the few connections I tried to make with the local scene. Things tick over a lot slower in Holland, time I just didn’t have, and I was sure my best bet was to get to Berlin to tap into some of that magic! All I had to use as a wand was my guitar, my voice and the last 20 Euros in my pocket. Just to clarify, when I say ‘twin bed’ I mean two separate beds on either side of the room…

Captain’s Log | May 25, 2014:

 

For the record, this was the lowest point of my 2014 but I lived to tell the tale and to keep the music going. After that initial ‘excitement’, by day three, things started to come together…

Room in Berlin
This was the magical room, which I ended up renting while I was living in Berlin.

Captain’s Log 2 | May 25, 2014:

 

I had managed to stay upright and proved Berlin was a better bet for a more Bohemian approach. I had just handed over the clock position to Stephen who is one of our Berlin musicians, sat back and enjoyed the show…

Berlin
The World Clock at Alexanderplatz in Berlin

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Post Natal Depression:

Ghostrider, my first-ever single came out in April 2014. I literally broke my back to get it out. Having no single was like being an actor with no headshot/profile photo on my portfolio for people to get an idea of just who I am and what I’m capable of doing. Plus I had twins!

Now here is some interesting data for you. As of this afternoon, the total number of Ghostrider digital sales since April 20th 2014 is…

45 MP3 sales and 280 online streams, (meaning Spotify etc and excluding the four and a half thousand views currently on YouTube). That’s it! I did sell out a couple of hundred Ghostrider CDs at my recent gigs in Australia and New Zealand though. They were the first and last batch to date as making CDs isn’t cheap.

I am my own worst critic so even though it was hard to get this music out and it wasn’t made in an expensive studio, I was very disappointed about one thing, considering my large network of friends and contemporaries, that I hadn’t created something compelling enough to make people want to share it or buy it (for less than a dollar!) Ouch! That speaks for itself in my books. Plus as they say, your friends are not necessarily your fans. Although we do live in an age where people are so distracted and don’t really buy music anymore, why should they when they can get it for free!? That’s a story for another day.

We live in an age where the music field has been levelled. When an indie artist releases a new song, the listener is expecting something as good as Coldplay’s new single. I have some great early recordings that Coldplay released before they were signed, they are also pretty raw and stripped down, back then, you had time to develop behind the scenes. Nowadays, You have to grow in full view of the world at large, learn, develop, release and keep doing it till you one day become as compelling to share as a cat in a hat video!

I am however, still proud of my first single because…

1. Ghostrider (Radio Edit) :

This was a difficult baby! I was using old recording software which is like being on Windows 2000 in 2015! It made things 10 times harder. Never mind the 11 months that it took me to save up for a new laptop after the old one curled up and died! That’s also why the song sounds a little retro and lacks in something but I’ve since saved up and upgraded my software 🙂

The song was written in Zimbabwe in 2011 and subsequently recorded whilst on the move in…

  • Harare Zimbabwe (demos, electric guitars, drums and bass – 2011 and 2012)
  • Antwerp Belgium (I redid the acoustic guitars – Spring 2013)
  • London UK (Vocals recorded whilst sitting on the bed holding the mic in my hand, as having a mic stand can often be a luxury if you live out of a suitcase with no base of your own. Ironically, the bedroom in question is behind Abbey Road Studios in St John’s Wood London – Summer 2013)
  • Amsterdam Holland (I programmed the twinkly synths in the verses, note by note whilst living in a rodent-infested flat in Jordaan… Yikes! Still better than being on the streets! – August 2013)
  • Los Angeles USA (Synths, editing and mixing while attending a music industry convention – September 2013)
  • Victoria Falls Zimbabwe (final touches and mixing – January 2014)
  • London UK (Final mixing and mastering – March 2013)
  • Copenhagen Denmark (I sat and edited the music video in one 12-hour session)

 

2. Ghostrider (Deep-Space Edit) :

The second twin came a lot easier! I started tracking the guitars in Victoria Falls in January 2014 and finished the rest of the recording in Copenhagen in February 2014. It is also a more stripped back acoustic version so not as much maintenance was involved. I also edited the music video in a similar fashion, I think I was still in Copenhagen…

 

Post Natal Depression

Now after all this, you can imagine how broken and depressed I was when I finally launched my new ‘babies’, spending many sleepless nights in South Holland, making music videos, designing my websites and all the various banners for social media, making the art work and talking to the distribution company, who did such a crap job (again, like in 2012) that I have since left them! They couldn’t do what they were simply paid to do!

I create, design and come up with all my own artwork:

Ghostrider Banner

After all this, with no money left for any marketing, I’m lying on the floor broken, my babies are finally out… and nobody even knows about them or seems to care! Wait?! I’m exhausted and you’re saying that the work only begins now?! Now is when the marketing campaign begins. Sending the song out to various media outlets etc. Most of which don’t want to know you until you’re somewhat successful or connected to the right people.

Captain’s Log | May 15, 2014:

 

Then by that afternoon, a plan had been made. Onward to Germany!

Captain’s Log 2 | May 15, 2014:

 

This is where the signed bands get to win. They make the music and pass it onto the companies whose job is to get it out to the world. Radio Interviews, Radio Play, Blogs, Magazines, Live Tours supporting bigger artists, Jools Holland, Super Bowl Halftime Shows, Song Placements on TV ads, Posters on Billboards and the London Underground etc. To release Rihanna’s song Diamonds, they spent about one million US Dollars in the America on marketing that song alone! People need to know it’s out and in such an oversubscribed market, it’s hard to get a word in sideways!

So on with the mission! To keep making music and stay ‘game fit’ whilst working towards catching up with myself online, to finally release something that represents me now and reveals the magical moments I enjoy internationally in the real world, today!

Ryan

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