Country Next: Ryan Larkins
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with Ryan Larkins.
Ryan Larkins; Photo Provided
Ryan Larkins is no stranger to the music scene, having landed cuts by some of the biggest artists in country music as a seasoned songwriter.
Now, he is stepping out into the spotlight to share more of his artistry as a performer, beginning with his debut EP, due out in October. Aptly titled Meet Ryan Larkins, the forthcoming collection, which marks Larkins’ first-ever project as a solo artist, includes two already-shared songs. They are “Man That Holds the Beer” and “She’s the Tough One.” Both tracks, produced by Jay DeMarcus and Ilya Toshinskiy, find the Nashville native and proud family man showcasing his unique low vocals while bringing a fresh twist to the class country sound.
Larkins began laying a foundation for his path to country music at age 12 when he started writing songs and playing guitar. Although he was raised on Christian music, it was the country genre that caught his ear after entering a televised talent competition with his friend. Larkins’ songwriting arm, passion, and persistence eventually led to his signing a publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing. And, in 2023, he signed a major booking deal with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and landed a recording contract with DeMarcus’ Red Street Records.
“It feels amazing to have music of my own out in the world! I’m really thankful for Red Street Records and CAA for giving me the opportunity to bring these songs to life and take them out on the road,” Larkins shared in a statement. “My hope is that listeners connect with them the way I do!”
Fans can look for three more tracks to drop on October 13 from Larkins, with the release of Meet Ryan Larkins.
In the meantime, Larkins phoned Country Now to talk about his latest music, upcoming EP, songs he’s written for other artists, and much more.
Read on to find out more about Ryan Larkins in this exclusive Q&A below.
How did you begin a career in country music?
So, it’s kind of crazy. I was born and raised in Nashville, but my dad was a Pentecostal preacher growing up. As close as I was to country music, I had no clue about the genre. I was raised on Southern gospel music, just singing in church. So, when I was about 12, I started playing guitar. Then, when I was 21, a friend from church asked me to try out for CMT’s Can You Duet. I did that, and it was wild. That’s how I started listening to country music, playing in bars around town, and writing country songs. I was playing at Belcourt Taps one night, and this lady came in and said, ‘I’ve got somebody I want you to meet.’ That led me to sign my first publishing deal. Then I met the people at Red Street at the end of last year, and it’s wild. I signed my first record deal in January, and it’s been so much fun.
Having auditioned for Can You Duet, did you ever consider being in a duo, or have you always wanted to be a solo artist?
I always thought of myself as a storyteller, songwriter, and artist. But, at the time, I thought, ‘Well. That’s a great opportunity to go and sing songs on television with somebody else.’ I was so young, and they had sent my friend home and paired me with this lady from the UK. So we gave that a try. But it ended up not working out. But, when I decided to be a solo artist, I was playing at writer’s rounds in Nashville. I felt like that’s what I had always wanted to do, and songwriting has always been a part of who I am. Being able to tell stories has been a natural thing. I’ve written songs since I was 12, and it’s been a part of me. Being able to share those songs and perform them is a dream.
I can’t even put it into words. It’s amazing. My very first cut was with Bill Anderson and Dolly Parton. Bill has been a hero of mine. He has had hits for the past six decades, and his career as a songwriter is so impressive. He is such a class act and a kind human being. That’s just a career that I respect. Getting in the room with him is incredible. I remember him saying, ‘I’m going to record this song.’ He played the song ‘Someday It’ll All Make Sense’ at the Opry the very next week. A few months later, he recorded it, and the first time I heard Dolly Parton’s voice on that song, I just got chills. It was one of the most incredible moments of my life just hearing that song for the first time. It felt like the start of something big. It’s amazing to think that a song you create in this little room can connect with someone like Dolly Parton, and she can sing it with Bill Anderson, and it can connect with a big audience.
What country artists have inspired you throughout your musical journey?
I tend to listen to classic country — those old-school voices like Faron Young, Eddy Arnold, Merle Haggard, George Strait, and Randy Travis. Those are some of my favorites. Dolly’s at the top of my list, too. I also love current artists like Cody Johnson and Lainey Wilson. I’m so impressed with her.
You co-wrote Cody Johnson’s “The Painter.” Is it difficult to choose songs for artists, or do you ever wish to save a song you wrote for yourself?
It is a challenge because there are songs that I love so much, and I want to sing them. Even “The Painter.” That’s a song that means so much to me. I had this idea of just about my life, you know, my wife and I had been married for almost 15 years. And that song came out of just the things we’d been through and how awesome she is. I brought that idea to Benjy Davis and Kat Higgins, and that was a special day. For a long time, I thought, ‘This is a song I want to sing.’ But when you have somebody like Cody Johnson, it just seems like a perfect fit for him. So, I thought, if I could have picked anybody to record that song, he would be at the top of my list. It’s amazing hearing his voice on that song. It’s the perfect fit for his story.
You also are preparing to release an EP. Can you tell me about your song, “Man That Holds the Beer”?
I wrote that with Carlo Colasacco, and he is one of my best friends. I love spending time with him, even when we’re not writing songs. I remember he was living downtown in this condo, and I was going over to his house to sing a vocal for a song. He had this idea. He was like, ‘Man. I think this could be something.’ So I just picked up this guitar and started singing this melody, and he said, ‘Man. I think that’s a perfect fit for this title.’ And before we knew it, we were writing that song before we had that other vocal recorded. I wanted the song to be more about a man who is getting off work after a long, hard week. He’s sitting on the back porch counting his blessings and being thankful. I think we really achieved that. It’s one of my favorite songs. It has a classic feel, which I love.
How did “She’s the Tough One” come about?
I had this idea and a little bit of a verse written. I was going to write with Carlo and Blake Chaffin. I was like, ‘I want to write a song about being tough.’ I had this verse, and Blake said, ‘Man. I love that. That is so good. I have a title that would go with that, but it would catch everybody off-guard.’ He said, ‘The title is ‘She’s the Tough One,’ and I lit up. I thought it was perfect. We finished that song and the demo that day in just a couple of hours. I just knew it was something special. To me, it’s about my wife but also about all of the tough women in our lives who encourage us to chase our dreams and be the best people we can be.
How do these two songs round out the upcoming EP?
I feel like these two songs represent who I am as an artist. I think right out of the gate, it’s a great introduction. It says, ‘Hey. I’m a country artist. I love country music. I love my wife. I’m a family man.’ Even with ‘Man That Holds the Beer,’ I see that as someone just being thankful, and that represents me as an artist as well. These next songs are coming out on October 13th, and I’m excited to share them with the world!
How will you celebrate the release of your EP?
I’m not sure yet. But I have a feeling there might be a listening party with some close friends and family. My parents live close by. My wife’s family lives close by. I figure we’ll have a get-together at the house.
Reflecting on your journey, what has been the biggest highlight of your music career so far?
Honestly, it’s releasing this new music. It’s a small thing, but this happened the other day. My kids came into the living room. They asked Alexa to play Ryan Larkins. That is a small thing, but it was so huge to have songs out there for people to listen to. That’s probably the biggest highlight. Having this Cody Johnson song is also a huge highlight for me, just having someone believe in a song, record it, and have it be a single on the radio. I mean, that’s such a blessing. I’m so thankful for that.
What’s next for you?
These next songs coming out are so country, but they also have a modern, cool, fresh take on the classic country sound. I’m excited to release those songs. I’m excited about everything coming up. We have a radio tour coming, and I’m playing a show in Colorado in October, which I’m very excited about.
Fans can keep up with Ryan Larkins on Instagram.
Tags from this story: