After years of paying her dues as a DIY electronic artist, New Jersey native-turned-LA girl RYL0 is set to take the glossy, glittery pop scene by storm.
Even with her earliest public tracks only dating back to 2019, this artist has clearly had her nose to the sonic grindstone. She primarily broke onto the scene with exhilarating hyperpop tracks and collaborations, with her trio work with DJ Re:Code and Fraxiom alone racking up hundreds of thousands of streams to date. Her constant production and musical vision have seen her billed at huge musical events alongside fellow queer hyperpop and experimental pop standouts like Arca and Ayesha Erotica.
Recently, RYL0 has been laying the groundwork for their move into full-fledged popstardom. From the hot girl vibes of “Bad Girl Like Me” to the breezy, radio-friendly sound of “People Who Don’t Love Me“, they’ve been busy flexing their musical muscles and expanding their already intriguing catalogue. With their summery new single “Loud Sex” hot off the presses and another upcoming track already being teased, now is the perfect time for new listeners to get up to speed.
We caught up with RYL0 in the midst of their busy release schedule to discuss their artistic journey, their queer identity, and the pop culture perfection that led them here.
In what ways do you feel your identity impacts the music you make?
For me, music has always been my outlet of escape and as a result, I often think that the music I make extends beyond my explicit identity. I’ve never seen my identity as a burden, but when I’m exploring my self-expression through the immediacy of music, I care way less about Who I Am and tend to dive deeper, asking myself “What exactly am I feeling and how do I want that?”
The day-to-day effort that goes into trying to create something original can be extremely grueling and hard on the ego, so when it comes to actually making music, I really love to disconnect from the parts of myself that tether me to how I identify on a daily basis. Of course, sometimes my identity will come up in my music from time to time– I’m not hiding anything, but that’s never been the relationship I’ve had with this artist project.
How has your sound evolved over the years, all the way from the “Gooey Youth” days to now?
“Gooey Youth” feels like such a dated deep cut now, which is funny because when I first made it (all by myself in my first off-campus apartment in LA), I thought it was the coolest thing I could ever make ever. I’ve since realized over the years that all my releases feel that way – every new release is the coolest thing I could ever make and the best I could hope to sound, until I top it with the next thing. I like to see each new project as an invitation to evolve my sound exponentially, so it’s been a really fulfilling experience to not only hear the growth in real time, but also to feel it.
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Growing so quickly also makes looking back on my older releases really difficult sometimes because of how stark the contrast is. When I first started this artist project in 2019, I was taking myself way more seriously than I take myself now – the music wasn’t as polished, the hooks weren’t as sticky, and I wasn’t approaching Pop as intuitively as I am now, but I still wanted to prove that music was something I could do well and be intellectual about. I was overthinking my relationship to being an artist, but now it’s just what I do and a part of who I am so I don’t feel like I really need to prove that I’m a “smart” anymore. “Loud Sex” is a really great example of a smart song that isn’t trying to prove that it’s smart while also not being afraid of sounding stupid. It’s self-aware but also cheeky & unserious, and that’s the reason why I love it so much.
My first project ever, “The Death of a Loved One” was a really well-thought out documentation of me experimenting with how to make a cohesive sonic body of work, and it was also a project about me dealing with a heartbreak, so it was brooding, emotional, and really heavy handed. I think my last project “Fragments” does almost the exact same thing while prioritizing a more polished Pop execution both in lyrical storytelling and production.
Who have been some of your favorite artists to collaborate with?
I’ve had a pretty long standing working relationship with DJ Re:Code who is incredibly innovative, talented, and also a great friend. Right now, our sounds couldn’t be more different from one another’s but back in 2020 when we first started working together, that definitely wasn’t the case! Even then, both of our respective sounds have changed so much since and we’ve really paved our ways in the greater “hyperpop” space on the same timeline. It’s been fun to work and grow with her over the past three years because I never know what to expect from her next.
I also love collaborating with Sabby Sousa! She’s the Floss Pop Princess and she owns that bubblegum brat sound. At this point, we’ve only worked together officially twice, but I admire everything about her artistry. She’s got everything thought out, and always has something in the works – her drive and attention to every little detail is incredible. I’ve told her how much she inspires me on a few occasions – We’ve also become really great friends over the years!
What songs do you find yourself coming back to for inspiration?
It’s always something Charli XCX. I’m obsessed with everything she does and I’m not beating the stan allegations. There’s something in her discography for literally anything I’m feeling, so I’ll often put on one of my favs from her when I need to feel inspired again.
Aside from her, I always come back to Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Tinashe, Paramore, or EDM tracks that I used to be obsessed with in highschool! Songs I used to love when I was a kid are also often a goldmine for inspo.
What is a piece of pop culture that is not explicitly LGBTQ+ but that helped you learn about your identity?
Thelma & Louise. I was in high school sobbing at the end of the movie, partially because it was sad but also because I realized how much it resonated with the sapphic tension between the titular characters.
This was also around the time there was speculation about Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift, and that was a theory I held onto a bit too hard… Turns out, I was the one who was actually in love with my best friend at the time. Very sapphic, indeed.
What queer figure(s) most helped you along the way of coming into yourself?
Probably Lynn Gunn of PVRIS. I was obsessed with her and her music for years while I was also realizing I was queer during my early years of high school. Lynn’s probably the first woman celebrity crush I ever had, and this was also around the same time I befriended a handful of proud, openly queer people in my life. After that, it didn’t take that much for me to come to terms with my sexuality, and it got normalized pretty quickly in my world once I came out to my parents and friends.
What’s one moment from queer pop culture past or present that our readers should check out?
There’s something really special going on in the live music / party space right now within the queer community in LA. I’ve found such a home for myself as both a performer and as an attendee at events like Subculture and Heav3n, which are the larger mainstays of the queer underground pop/electronic community in the city. Both parties champion and platform up & coming acts – everything from live performances & dj sets to drag & burlesque numbers – while also hosting headliners like Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama, Slayyyter, Dorian Electra, Rebecca Black, Ayesha Erotica, and the late Sophie. I’ve been going to these parties even before I booked my first show as RYL0, and I’ve been really grateful to be so close to the action, especially now having performed at both!
I’ve found some of my favorite artists, and made some of the most life-changing relationships through the community fostered by the underground queer party scene. Readers should definitely check out these parties if they’re ever in the LA area, and even if you aren’t, I would highly recommend checking out your local equivalent and show some support!
What do you think queer pop culture needs more of now?
Queer pop stars! Queer pop culture needs more queer pop stars! Right now I’m loving Chrissy Chlapecka, Madison Rose, Bronze Avery, That Kid, Alexzone, Michael Medrano, Bentley Robles, Mel 4Ever… they’re all so talented and deserve the recognition so I would really love to see them have Huge moments in the near future. ♦
Stream RYL0’s hottest hits here: