Are you a fan of deep, dark, and meaningful lyrics? If so, then Sleeping At Last is definitely for you.
Sleeping At Last doesn’t produce just songs; he create experiences. His powerful and eerie instruments pull you in, his words settle deep in your chest, and his unique vocals make you feel heartbreak, love, or uncertainty, whether those are the current feelings in your heart or not. Whether it’s with haunting original material or brilliantly transformed covers, the man behind the name, Ryan O’Neal, is sure to leave you breathless.
If you’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars, or The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, then you’ve probably listened to one of Sleeping At Last’s songs or covers. With over one-hundred studio-recorded songs and more on the way, he has truly made his mark on the industry.
We were lucky enough to get the chance to speak with Sleeping At Last’s Ryan O’Neal. We got to chat about first experiences, new music, tour plans, and much more. Check it out below.
With only four words, how would you describe your music?
Quiet, Somber, but Hopeful.
Were you always set on becoming a professional musician, or did you originally have other plans in mind?
When I was really young, I first wanted to be a cartoonist or animator! Then an NBA star! At around 13 years old, I got my first guitar and fell in love with music. From that point on, I knew that music is what I wanted to spend my life making.
When did you write your first song?
Shortly after getting my first guitar, I began to write my own songs. It wasn’t until about 15 that I became obsessed with the craft of writing songs.
Do you have some type of process you go through when you create a song, or does it just kind of happen?
It mostly just happens when it happens, but I’ve learned practices that help me feel ready for when a song appears. I record ideas all the time – I write lyrics, thoughts and even just single words that I like as often as I can.. and with my phone I record my messing around on the piano or whatever instrument I feel like playing.. not TRYING to write a song, but just playing around. Later I’ll go through those recordings and rediscover something I played with fresh ears and every once in a while, I’ll hear a song in there and that’s when I’ll put into the long hours of wrestling the idea into a song.
You have released well over one-hundred songs. It is honestly incredible. In total, how many songs have you written?
Thank you! Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I’d guess around 200 songs. Early in my career I was on a more traditional album path, where I would release one album every few years. That’s around 4ish songs a year. In 2010 I second guessed that schedule and model of releasing music and decided that I wanted to write way more music. So I began doing series of music instead of albums, which means that I’m writing and releasing songs constantly throughout the year, as they are completed. It’s been an incredibly fulfilling creative process for me to always be creating. I think it has helped me feel more comfortable in my own (musical) skin.
Over the years, you have released not only original material, but covers of other artists’ music as well. This includes Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” and the Backstreet Boys’ “As Long As You Love Me”. How do you decide on what songs you want to cover?
Just about all of my covers began with an invitation from a TV show, or an Ad agency to put my spin on an older song. It began with Grey’s Anatomy inviting me to record “500 Miles” and since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to reimagine songs for different projects. I love it – it always makes me hear those songs differently and appreciate the hard work that went into writing them. “Make You Feel My Love” was recorded for a new Mercedes-Benz commercial – it was such a treat to record that Dylan song, one of my favorites.
Many of your covers are incredibly different from the originals, such as your cover of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”. When you decide on a song, how do you go upon making it your own?
Usually, in the process of learning the chords and melodies of a song, I’ll hear a direction that I find interesting. For “Dark Horse” I was blown away by how dark and interesting the melodies were, so I decided to strip most things away and make it all about the voice and an old, creaky sounding piano.
Are there any songs you are hoping to cover in the future?
There are so many songs that I LOVE, but I’ve actually found that I enjoy the process of recording covers of songs I am not as familiar with a little more, because it’s more about discovery. When I already love a song, I feel unsure that I can bring anything interesting to it, since I know it so well!
Your music has been featured on Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, and many other incredible movies/television shows. What is hearing your music play through these productions like for you?
It’s such a joy! I have been obsessed with film and TV since I was little, so to get to do what I love most (music) for TV and films is a total dream come true! I feel so grateful to get to be a part!
If you were able to choose a show or movie for your music to be featured on, which would you pick?
I love Pixar with my whole heart, so to ever get to add music to anything they are doing would be a life highlight for me. But there are so many TV shows that I’d be ecstatic to be a part of!
If you could collaborate with any artist in the world, who would you choose and why?
That’s a tough one!! But I’m gonna go with Bjork. Her creativity and artistic integrity is unmatched. Been a huge fan for a long while.
The last music video you released was for “Saturn” in June. Are there any new videos in the works?
There are! I’ve got 2 music videos currently in production, which will likely release in the first quarter of 2017! Can’t wait.
What are your plans for 2017? Will there be any tours?
Currently, I’m in the middle of writing and recording songs for my Atlas: Year Two series – which keeps me incredibly busy in the studio. I’ll continue that throughout 2017, and I’ve got some plans for some live shows that I’m curious to pursue as well. It should be a really fun and busy year! Excited for it to unfold.
If you had to select four of your own favorite recordings, which tracks would you pick? They can be originals or covers.
That’s tough! Not because I think they are all great, but they all are so personal that it’s hard to decide. Off the top of my head, I’d say “Saturn”, “Touch”, “Hearing” and “Uneven Odds.”
Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
I am deeply and truly grateful that anyone would allow my songs into their lives. When it comes to gratitude, words are just a start, but I feel so blessed that I get to do what I love most and that is entirely because people have been kind enough to listen. Thank you.
One of the greatest things about Sleeping At Last is that he constantly publishes new music. Through 2017, he’ll be releasing music from the final chapter of Atlas: Year Two. If you want to stay updated, make sure to follow Sleeping At Last’s social media accounts. You can find all of them down below.
Are you a Sleeping At Last fan? What’s your favorite song by him? Tell us your response by tweeting us on our Twitter page, @CelebMix.