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Mother Mother’s Ryan Guldemond on staying true to your creativity

Mother Mother has seen success through popular app, TikTok, but continues to create music their own way.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down over the phone with Ryan Guldemond, the lead singer and guitarist of popular Canadian indie rock band, Mother Mother. The band has most recently released a fiery sequel to their hit single, “Hayloft,” which is entitled “Hayloft II.”

“The music inspires the words and it has nothing to do with your own personal story, or even something that you imagined up intellectually… that’s how Hayloft was born, with those initial lyrics that were basically trying to emulate the sound of a guitar,” said Guldemond. 

The first single, “Hayloft,” was originally recorded in 2008 but it did not attract the attention it deserved when it was first released. When TikTok took a hold of it a few years ago, the fans, along with the notion of social media as a method of distributing music, rebranded the song. 

“[TikTok] sort of turned the industry on its ear in a cool way, it’s like the power has been put back into the hands of the fans and the music consumer,” Guldemond said. “It has nothing to do with a bunch of people sitting in a boardroom trying to strategize corporate success. It’s all kind of anarchist and organic. For that reason, I think it’s really cool.”

The idea that social media has catalyzed records and singles is interesting to explore especially in times where online has been the only option for connection. Guldemond explains that a popular app like TikTok affects the relationship between fans and artists by allowing them to “connect intimately.” 

“Hayloft” developed a personality of its own on TikTok as fans created synopses describing the hit, danced around to the catchy tune, or presented their own cover. The newfound persona of “Hayloft” that occurred even sparked a second part to the story of two young lovers. 

“It was never meant to be,” Guldemond explains. “It was only until the song received a new lease on life in the last two years. It was through this newfound success that the story itself deepened, and expanded, beyond what we ever initially intended it to be.”

“That highlights the power of interpretation, and audience awareness. It’s the fans who take the lore and the zeitgeist of a song into so many more dimensions and we were inspired by that. We were inspired by all of the thoughtful, varying, synopses that people were giving Hayloft.” 

I wondered where they came up with the incredible songs they have produced thus far, as well as how they have nurtured their creative minds. 

“That is a big question,” he said. “I think you nurture creativity by being creative. Not just in music but in your daily living. Even in the mundane channels of living.” 

“[What] helps me make better songs is when I can approach the arduous side of life through the lens of creativity. For me it’s more of a life approach.”

Approaching the arduous side of life is something that Ryan Guldemond seems to have mastered over the years, as he’s planted the seed of many hit songs that have sprouted and grown for Mother Mother. 

Maintaining mental health has been vital during the pandemic, which gives explanation for Guldemond’s need to write and create, and to heal and reflect. 

Guldemond also shared some critical advice for our students. 

“If you’re passionate about something and it’s not working out, you’re still gonna be passionate about it,” Guldemond said. “If someone waved a magic wand, there was no success, and there was no career, I would still love music more than anything else.” 

“There is no currency more valuable than happiness and purpose. Definitely, go broke and stay happy versus the footside.”

Mother Mother will be visiting Edmonton on tour on May 2.

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