Ryan Liberty Megan is the kind of artist that makes you reach for your bifocals. At a glance, he’s a doting father hailing from sleepy New Paltz, New York, who gave up music to provide for his son. Look a little closer, and you’ll spot a noise rock artist known for playing chaotic, explosive live shows in rowdy bars.
My whole life, I mean, as far as back as I can remember, I’m neurodivergent in the sense that I’m very, very Adhd and I’m very bipolar. I’ve kind of always been on my flights of fancy, so to speak. Very much in a perpetual dream world. And I see it in my kid now, too, as a coping mechanism. And music is a huge part of that, because it’s a world you can retreat into and invent things like you can in a dream.
Only you don’t have to wake up.
So, going back to the album’s genesis: I wrote a song a day for a while. Didn’t know what to do with them. I started giving them to my buddy Paul who was in a band with me before, and struggles with a lot of the same issues that I do, some more severely.
And it was in doing that that we talked about dreams a lot, the literal dreams or dreams that we had aspirations that we had fears.
I think it was when the song “Break” was written. That is all about life as a dream that we both took a bird’s eye look at those songs, and thought we could stitch these all together into mile markers like you’re like a chronological story of your life, of all the profoundly terrible moments in your life.
And it’s just a long dream going from one moment to the next and the one thing that doing a lot of hallucinogens in my youth has taught me is that reality is relative and that the separation between waking life and dream life is nonexistent. They’re both real from the perspective of how we experience them. And they’re both real in the sense that we have limited control over them.
Some things you can control, some things you can’t. You never really know what you’re gonna be able to control and what you’re not gonna be able to control, and as soon as you feel like you’ve got control it gets stripped away from you.
I think the difference between waking life and dreams is that in a dream everything is concentrated. Everything that you’ve carried with you in the day is pooled together into, like, buckets. You can run up a hill, and you get to experience a distilled version of life much like you would with music. Dreams, like music, are distilled versions of humanity, of all of our experiences.
Making an album on vinyl is a dream of mine. It’s an aspiration of mine. I’ve never had a dream about it, but, you know, the thought of doing it emotionally is akin to the feeling that I get after waking up after a really good dream: a big, fat sense of validation of existence. That this was all worthwhile. ‘I’m glad I got to do this.’
So in a very real way, this music saved my life. It saved my friend Paul’s life. And it’ll probably continue to do so. I’m much healthier than I used to be.
But… life is still very much a dream. And what tethers me to live is what tethers me to dream, which is just to be loved. This is to be around love.
Be around what you love. I mean for some people, you go in a dream, you just want superpowers, cause you love the thought of being powerful. Sometimes you want to be with a lover, sometimes you want to throw something, a car, at your boss’s head, you know. All these things that would give you great satisfaction or pleasure, anything that would distill all the things that you want from the waking world that you don’t get distilled.
And I think that’s why music is so amazing. It’s because it really is something that’s almost unique. And how we do it, it’s very uniquely human. It’s just a beautiful way to jump in and out of our own worlds. How awesome is that?
You ever ride in a car (hopefully you’re not driving) and you drift to sleep, and you snap out of it, and you realize you’d been dreaming for just a second, and you’re just kind of like, wait, where am I? Oh, yeah, I’m in the car. A song does that to you. A good song will grab you like a dream.
It transports you and takes you on a journey. And something might stop that song before it ends. Maybe you won’t like how that song ends, you know. Maybe you like it because it’s exactly what you’re expecting. Maybe you like it because it’s not.
But either way you like it because it’s taking you someplace else.
Humans are travelers, man. Hunter gatherers. Like it was almost unnatural for us to stop and to build cities. We still had to roam. It’s still in our DNA to keep moving.
We want to see new lands. We want to journey. There’s this whole school of thought around why mental illness is so well expressed in the United States. And there’s a lot of reasons and debate over whether that’s even a thing. But there’s a school of thought that it’s because the most impetuous, impulsive people settled the country first.
Those were the people that were bipolar. Those are the people who being tethered to reality and tethered to dreams were the same thing.
And they had a journey. And I think of music lovers, people that follow the Grateful Dead or whatever. It’s like they just need to get away. Some people just need to get away.
Sometimes you can go away for too long.
We all need to get away, right?
You know the weird, fucking thing side note to all this? My dad didn’t like music. Can you imagine that? It’s like, not liking ice cream, right? I know those people exist, but… he didn’t like music.
He liked my music. He was impressed by it and all that stuff. But like, he didn’t know me.
But golf was his dream. That was his escape. That was his ability to escape the world.
I mean nobody really truly knows what dreams are and why they are. But the common thought about dreams is that it’s a natural byproduct of our brains relaxing. That it’s our brains doing game theory while we rest.
That’s beautiful to me. And that’s music, too. That’s what music is. Music is a beautiful byproduct of humanity.
It’s a dream you can give to other people.
Ryan just released his chaotic video for his dreamy and melodic song “Sweep.”
Music/words/Guitar/Vocals/Harmonium: Ryan Liberty Megan
Bass: Paul Moran
Drums: Dan Schwartz
Horns: Mike Snow
Strings: Rogue Violin
Additional vocals: Bryanne Aileen, Theia
© 2023, Divine Magazine. All rights reserved.