B-Sides: RYAT Girl (and Guy)

a man and a woman lie next to each other on a gold, sparkly background. the man has his eyes blindfolded with a gold piece of the cloth. the woman has her eyes open. she has a golden bronze shimmer on her face.

Christina Ryat has been making electronic music as RYAT since 2006 (fans of Electo Feminisms take note!). She recently teamed up with Tim Conley and their debut album Avant Gold came out last month from Obvious Bandits.

If you like getting lost in the ambient beats of Animal Collective and Radiohead, RYAT’s rainbow-tinged electronic pop is right up your alley. Christina’s vocals, either looped as beats themselves or driving the melody, are blended with drums that rustle, wallow, and whip. Their songs bloom gradually to an unpredictable electronic orchestration, each lick a surprise in an ever-changing arrangement. My favorite song might be “The Fish that Dived Out of the Water,” which opens with harp-like cadences, followed by Christina’s own cascading vocals, which are then looped under a chorus.

And RYAT has range. There’s the beat-driven “In My Face,” and the slower “We Walk Slow But As Fast As their Rush,” which is more of a piano ballad–Christina’s voice and harmonies leading the song along with some spare strings. It’s followed by “Time Worn,” a heavily processed piece that’s just as haunting in its own way. Curious and complex, their arrangements are, as their album title suggests, innovative and shimmering.

Always a collaborator, Christina has done work with other artists like Taylor McFerrin (as in son-of-Bobby), and Cuban percussionist François Zayas and choreographer Viji Rao (their project is showing soon in Philadelphia, where the band is based out of). RYAT also collaborated with video artist Annapurna Kumar on their recent tour. You can see the fruits of their teamwork at footage of their live show, where Kumar orchestrated the light show.

For a non-flashing lights video, here’s an animation they did with Kumar that’s easier on the eyes.

RYAT just wrapped up their North American tour, but that doesn’t mean the party’s over! They just released a collection of remixes that you can stream online.

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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