I will tell you right now that I was never particularly a fan of Matt Ryd’s music.
But that music meant a lot of things to a lot of other people. It got through to them and gave them the things they need out of art and entertainment and expression. He gave of himself, and in turn made an impact on people’s lives. So in that regard, I am a fan of Matt Ryd’s music.
I was never particularly a close friend of Matt Ryd’s, either.
But those several times we interacted over the years he was always a source of positive energy, humor, and support. And judging by the various testimonies pouring out of the internet today, that was true of just about everyone’s experience with him – even if the extent of their interaction was just a brief bit of online correspondence. His persona and character, expressed through his actions, made a great impact on people’s lives. So in that regard, I am a friend of Matt Ryd’s.
Musicians of all calibers and statures die every day, of course. Even today, people all over the web have been paying tribute to legendary keyboardist George Duke, who left this realm on Monday. Duke was indeed a monster player whose impact is written into history and will influence generations to come. But personally and spiritually speaking, Matt’s exit hits me a lot harder.
That he was so young, so tied into my scenes, so recently in communication about collaborating together someday soon, and then so suddenly gone by his own hand – or more accurately, by the invisible hand of the illnesses that escaped his control – has been a stunning blow, and it’s brought some overlooked truths to light.
The world is now short one more voice, one more viewpoint, one more vessel to express an imagination that had decades of service left in it. That imagination could have just been getting started exploring new territories. That viewpoint could have shown the world something it didn’t even know existed, let alone needed. That voice could have spoken to one kid looking for guidance to face a tough decision or encouragement to chase after a lofty goal or just a laugh to get through a terrible day. The whole package contained within that vessel very well could have one day made a record that changed your life or mine forever.
But now that vessel is totaled, its potential has sublimated into the ether, and it’s never coming back.
Nowadays some people like to say, especially since technology has made creating and sharing art so accessible, that there’s too much of it out there crowding the playing field, the quality of the work being shared is too low, and many just shouldn’t be making it at all.
Those people can fuck right off.
We each have our very own voice, viewpoint, and imagination, and we have no say in how long we own this precious vessel with which we can donate them to the universe. No matter the medium, no matter the audience – even if that audience is only oneself – our art is in there, desperate to be made and primed to make a difference. And as long as our hearts are beating and our neurons are firing we can do this. It is of absolute, utmost urgency that we cherish this capability at every single moment. This is not a drill.
Cheers and safe travels to you, Matt.