Sometime in early 2020, Ryan Haynes is releasing his debut album, though "debut" might be the wrong word. For years, Haynes has performed, toured, and released music as DJ Afterthought. But releasing his new project under his real name is a significant choice, a way to keep the two music projects entirely separate.
“I’m not moving away from Afterthought,” says Haynes. “The Afterthought stuff is a lot of hip hop and EDM, and as much as I enjoy doing that and want to pursue that, I never really took time for myself that was maybe more me, that I really wanted to create. So, this gives me the outlet to separate myself creatively as an artist from myself as a producer.”
Ahead of the album's release, Haynes is throwing a show at Thunderbird Café & Music Hall on Thu., Dec. 19 that will double as a toy drive for Toys for Tots. The event is the first time the new album will be heard in its entirety.
“It’s more of like a debut show than a release show,” says Haynes. “The main focus is to bring awareness and bring as many toys for the holidays. That’s the number one thing, and for everyone to come and have a good time.”
A father himself, Haynes has a soft spot for kids, especially during the holidays. “They’re the most innocent people,” he says, and chose to hold a collection for Toys for Tots because it’s a tangible way to give to underprivileged children.
"I know if we have toys they’re going to go to some kids, and they’re going to genuinely bring some happiness and good to something. It’s not some dollar amount given to something we may never see.”
While Haynes' new project is not yet available to stream, on Fri., Dec. 6, he dropped one of the tracks, “Fingertips,” with an accompanying music video on Mon., Dec. 16. It features Haynes singing over a soothing down-tempo beat and a drawn-out echoing guitar. Instead of a lyrical bridge, local guitarist Garrett Hunter takes over, creating a blend of clean rock, pop, and alternative R&B. Hunter, along with Haynes' co-producer Kali, joins Haynes during the upcoming show. It will be the first time Haynes performs with a live guitarist. And Kali will be live engineering.
“I’ve been going through years of sending people music, and I can kind of tell now when people are just being nice or don’t even listen to it,” says Haynes. “I’ve never gotten a better response for any music I’ve ever done. It definitely makes me optimistic at the very least.”