Arts Q&A: Electronic musician Ryan Vail on Jon Hopkins, Jape and skateboarding

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week Derry-born electronic artist Ryan Vail

Ryan Vail will be playing at Sunflower Festival, Stendhal Festival and Moira Calling this summer. Pic by Wrapped in Plastic

1. When did you think about music as a career and what were your first steps into it?

About three years ago I had a lot of interest in my Grow EP. Up to that point it felt like a hobby. Soon after, myself and Ciaran Lavery recorded a mini album called Sea Legs and things started to speed up for me.

We toured that project which ended up nominated for the NI Music Prize. Then I began the journey of making my first album, For Every Silence and a career in music became a reality for me.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Nils Frahm at the Spaces tour in Belfast City Hall (I got to support him, which made it even more special); Jon Hopkins at Celtronic Festival, Derry and Mount Kimbie at The Great Escape, Brighton.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

I asked Jape to play my wedding. He never did.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?


5. And the book?

How To Survive On A Desert Island For Dummies.

6. Top three films?

Blade Runner, Drive and Leon.

7. Worst film you've seen?

My Sister's Keeper.

8. Favourite authors?

I don't read books, sorry. This is mainly due to the demand of my studio and performing commitments. Time off is for family time – and Netflix, of course.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

Surfing and I'm a big fan of Gearoid McDaid. Also skateboarding and my favourite is local skater Joe Hill who rides for VIA skateboards.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

The Alps. I love snowboarding and I love the music scene there. It's honestly the most enjoyable holiday to go on.

11. Pet hate?

I would have to say the rain. It never stops and prevents me from reaching my full fashion potential, lol.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Hake is top of the list this year.

Dessert? Cheesecake.

Drink? NorthBound Brewery, made in my home town of Derry.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My wife. She played in the original line up of the band. We met her while surfing on my local beach. The saying "behind every strong man is a strong woman" is true.

14. Is there a God?

That would be an ecumenical matter.

:: Ryan Vail will play Sunflower Festival, Hillsborough, on July 29 (, Stendhal Festival, Limavady on August 12 ( and Moira Calling on September 9 (

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