“I put up my hair in a ponytail, put on some red lipstick, maybe some purple nail polish, take a deep breath and go on stage,” said Ryan Collins, third-year film and English double major at the University of Rhode Island.
Collins identifies himself and his music under the title “Mail Culture.” Mail Culture is a one-man act, in which Collins provides his own vocals as well as guitar, a little bass in the background and even a bit of a synthesizing.
While at URI, Collins has mostly been known to perform at open mics and a few shows on campus with a simple acoustic act. His one-man band varies from emo pop-punk to acoustic pop, and offers some synthpop qualities.
Last June, Collins released an EP on the website Bandcamp called “I prefer odd numbers.” The EP consists of four songs: “First Stop, Motivation Station!,” “Seeing as I fell,” “From the dead” and “Invincible.” Because this EP was a compilation of demos recorded on an iPhone, Collins said he has devoted himself to recording a mini album with a better sound. This mini album currently consists of eight songs (though more may be added,) which Collins plans on hopefully finishing around May, though an official date has not yet been confirmed.
Collins said he uses both a mixer and Garageband to record his songs. He started officially writing music around 2014 since he can only read a little bit of music and learned mostly by ear. Collins added that writing music in general can be very difficult sometimes.
“I’ll write the lyrics first, or write a couple of lines, then I’ll play those lines over,” Collins said. “If I can’t figure out anything else, then I’ll just go with what keeps coming. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Collins said he began playing the guitar before eighth grade.
“I started playing because I really liked Guitar Hero,” Collins said. “And people complained because they thought Guitar Hero was going to make people not play the guitar.”
From there after, Collins began to learn the guitar on his own by mostly watching YouTube videos. Initially, he started off by learning classics such as “Wonderwall” by Oasis and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Collins said he is inspired by musicians such as Sufjan Stevens and Jeff Rosenstock and bands such as The Front Bottoms, wavves, Modest Mouse and many others.
With his busy schedule as a commuter, Collins struggles between driving to both the Kingston and Providence campuses, working at The HUB@LLRC and maintaining his position as secretary for the Musician’s Guild club. Collins said his music is more for himself than for others, but added that “there is not enough music around URI.” Collins believes this era of music is the greatest because it is so diverse, meaning that if there are a lot of students at URI from different states, even countries, there should be a bigger and more diverse music scene at the university.
Music by Ryan Collins/Mail Culture can be found on Bandcamp. Tune in to hear Collins speaking and performing on RIU2’s student radio for “Music and Music Discussion” with Tim Doherty on April 28 at 3 p.m. In addition, Collins will also be performing some songs (possibly from his new mini album) at the Musician’s Guild Open Mic next Friday, April 15.