Pop artist Ryan Whitman spins a playlist of art + song pairings.
Playing right now ‘round the 20x200 office are some poppy, soulful tunes that feel perfectly suited to a summer kickback, courtesy of one Ryan Whitman. We first found out about Whitman’s R&B influenced, genre-bending debut EP Body Heat through our very own production lead Carly Piersol, who moonlights as a magnificent photographer and had the pleasure of working with Whitman. His songs radiate optimism and confidence, and encourage listeners to practice a little more self love—especially in If You Really Want To, the first single off his new EP. That particular track is all about going for it, doing what you want, and refusing to be held back by what anyone else thinks. That’s a message we can heavily cosign!
Whitman started playing piano at five years old, and writing songs at the ripe old age of twelve, so he’s got a real feel for this stuff (catch this interview). He’s always been drawn to music with a groove and passion in it, and puts a lot of thought into how disparate elements can coalesce. Body Heat gives a great sense of his eclectic tastes and distinctive point of view. It’s also, frankly, fun to listen to. His print and music pairings for this Art Mixtape have a similar balance: cerebral and earnest, but also playful and positive. Peep his picks below.
Art in its many forms has the power to transport you. While artwork and music on their own can evoke feelings and memories from the viewer/listener, I feel that together they create a beautiful story. What I love about this project is that in pairing artwork + songs together they pull out intricacies from each other, producing a whole new experience. I was surprised when putting my pairings together at how certain pieces of art just immediately brought a particular song to mind, sometimes even a song that I hadn't thought of in a long time, which made it a very fun experience for me.
The main thing I've taken away from this experience is how differently we can see the world. For every piece I chose it would be interesting to know the pairings that other people would make. My choices tell a bit of how my mind works and, in a way, reveal the soundtrack of my life experiences to this point. When reviewing the art and musical pairings that I've made I hope you’ll feel that you know me a bit better, and that maybe you’ll experience those pieces of art in a new way. — Ryan Whitman
1. Hello Earth by Kate Bush // Black Marble (Asia), a 20x200 Space Edition
7. If You Really Want To by Ryan Whitman // Untitled (b) by Kindah Khalidy
8. Living For The City by Stevie Wonder // Resist. by Edel Rodriguez
The 411 on Ryan Whitman
Ryan Whitman is a Manhattan-based, R&B/neo-soul artist who grew up outside Philadelphia near Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Music has always been Ryan’s passion. He began playing the piano at 5 years old and quickly developed an early love for jazz music. This passion soon grew to encompass R&B and soul. His first EP, Body Heat, is out on June 25th 2018. It's a combination of songs Ryan wrote between 2016 and 2017, with each song exploring the complexities of relationships, self-assurance, and self-acceptance. Overall, Body Heat reflects Ryan’s confidence at a point in his life where he is living his truth and feeling better than ever in his own skin.