By Julien A. Luebbers
For the spokesperson-Revue
There are pros and cons to being a part of the Spokane music scene. On the one hand, the community is tight-knit and full of talent. But on the other hand, it lacks the infrastructure of a larger music scene, and its size can be overwhelming for an artist’s musical growth and audience growth.
But according to Ryker, the local talent manager and CEO of Direct Influx Management, we don’t see the whole picture. There is such a thing as the Spokane music scene, but it doesn’t have to be a hard border sequestering Inland Northwest talent from its Upper Left peers.
âThe biggest part of what I’m trying to do is fill in the gaps,â Ryker said. with artists from Seattle, working with artists from Portland.
âPeople were sort of in their own little niche. And I tried to build a network of people who are different genders, different styles, different places and kind of the bridge or the focal point.
She does this not only because it benefits the artists she works with (which include local names like Jango and All Day Trey), but also because it’s productive for the Spokane scene as a whole. She offers a new way of thinking about being a Spokane artist, which includes the individuality of Spokane but places her within the framework of a larger music scene.
âThere is such value in the mindset that we are more than this unique city,â she said. âIn Washington, we lack the infrastructure, population and demographic makeupâ that other major music cities (LA, Chicago, New York, Atlanta) can tap into.
If an artist explodes onto the local New York scene, the audience pool is just bigger, giving them a better chance of expanding their influence in other cities. Spokane does not offer this. What it offers is a great group of local people and proximity to other active and interesting music venues.
âThe goal is to inspire these artists to be part of the West Side scene because it will be very difficult for you to book shows there, it will be very difficult for you to get features, it will be very difficult to you to establish yourself on this scene if you are not part of it in some way or another.
In managing his artists, Ryker has followed exactly this philosophy. There are many examples, but a familiar example might be Jango’s single “Merchandise” with Sam Lachow, which recently surpassed 160,000 plays on Spotify.
Short-term guests to be extras in one of Lachow’s music videos (due to a previous working relationship), Ryker and Jango chatted with the Seattle rapper. A relationship was sparked and collaboration between states was set in motion.
âIt was just cool to see the two communities come together for this one and support it like I think it needs to be supported,â Ryker said. “I hope this shows a lot of people that some of the biggest names you know in Seattle are not out of reach.”
This is if artists immerse themselves in this larger scene in the Pacific Northwest. Because as Ryker will tell you, it’s not just Spokane-Seattle. It’s Tri-Cities, Portland, Boise, Bozeman and more. Ryker is constantly on the move, whether driving or flying, throughout the upper left corner. “We may be scattered, but we are still a scene.”
But, of course, Spokane has to grow on its own, setting standards that local artists can take with them. This is why Ryker is also involved in putting pressure on local business and government, building a more representative and supportive infrastructure. âIt’s important that the city embraces the arts and entertainment scene,â she said.
âThere must be diversity, there must be women, there must be people of color. You can’t have hip-hop and have five white hip-hop artists and not represent anybody from other cultures.
Ryker’s is a truly two-pronged approach: working with local artists to build a community around creativity and working to change the attitudes and functions of the local music infrastructure.
Over the years, she has gained a lot of valuable knowledge about the music industry as a whole, which in turn enables her to be a better manager and creative advisor. âThe # 1 thing I notice about artists and why they struggle is that most of them have no idea where they want to go,â she said.
âAnd so instead, they just repeat behaviors and habits and stay in exactly the same space because they don’t know what to add or remove to get them into said space. I’m just the way to help people get to where they want to go, âRyker added, summarizing how all of these roles intersect.
Being that route means keeping busy with the Upper Left music scene. That means business meetings, studio sessions, and social media. It’s a lot of footwork, but as the scene in Spokane and that of the bigger PNW changes, expect Ryker to be a part of it.
Visit directinflux.com for more information on Ryker’s business, which she runs with Brayton Dawson, COO. Follow Ryker on Instagram @callmeryker.
Julien A. Luebbers can be contacted at [email protected]