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:: Spotlight :: RyanDan - Canadian twins are heading for stardom

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Canadian twins Ryan and Dan Kowarsky, known as RyanDan, are quickly setting their mark in today's music world with the release of their debut self-titled album and a string of important live appearances around the world. In the last part of 2007 they recorded the official theme for the Rugby World Cup, sang for the Pope, did a big Christmas show in Denmark and received nominations for the upcoming Canadian Music Awards.

The opera/pop-singing pair have been singing since they were four years old. The twins fuse classical music and pop ballads to create a unique, emotionally uplifting sound. The voices have the rare characteristics of having fantastic clarity and richness. The album is captivating in that they breathe new life into some old classics and a couple of other songs “Like The Sun” and “High” have class written all over them.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Ryan whilst the pair were on a short promotional visit of Australia late last year.

Q. What have been your impressions of Australia?

It was our first time in Australia. The fans have been incredibly supportive and Australia is a beautiful place. We performed at the Sydney Opera House and it was amazing. Every artist would want to perform there and I can’t believe we did. It was an incredible experience.

Q. Tell us about your start in music?

Our father and older brother are opera singers, so we grew up with that classical music in our family. We also listened to the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys and Boyz2Men – groups with harmony. We put the two styles of music together to what we have right now.

Q. Do you come from a musical family?

Everybody in the family sings. My mother plays piano. My sister plays pop-country. We grew up listening to people like Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti. I believe that Mario Lanza is one of the greatest vocalists to ever live. He crossed over, performing classical and pop music. He only got noticed after he died.

Q. I believe that you got signed to a recording deal in unusual circumstances…

We stepped on stage when we were 4 years old. When we got to age fifteen and sixteen we were naïve enough to walk off the street into the Sony Music offices in Canada. We took our demo to the secretary and demanded she play it to the President or whoever you can. We annoyed her like crazy. Two guys came out and it was the President and Vice-President of Sony Music Canada. We ended up singing acapella to them on the spot. We got signed immediately and went on to go double platinum in Canada and Germany.

Q. Is the classical-pop style reaching bigger audiences, particularly younger ones of your age group?

It was a little frustrating being young and playing to a very young audience. The young kids were too focused on our hair, our style, and our image. The music we’re doing now is aimed at an older audience and you can get the appreciation for the voices, the orchestration, the lyrics, etc. It is cool for young people to sing that classical/pop style. It’s a nice thing. The music is authentic and it’s important for young people to listen to that, as well as hip-hop and R&B. It’s good for kids to broaden their musical tastes.

Q. Did you set out to perform some old favourites on the debut album?

It was important to do some of the old favourites. They are songs we grew up listening to. “Wind Beneath My Wings” is one of my mum’s favourites. We wanted to put a couple of songs in the album that people knew.

Q. The album was recorded with a huge orchestra…

Yes, we recorded with a 62-piece orchestra. It was simply incredible to record with a live orchestra. You get the feeling from each person’s emotion. It’s very different.

Q. The impact of the Internet, especially Myspace, has been enormous for you…

The Internet is incredible. It gives artists the opportunity to get their music out to so many different people. Myspace has been great for us and you get the feedback from fans. It’s a chance to be closer to them. We get so many emails.

Q. The final two tracks are written by yourselves - with a lovely emotion and intensity - and one of them has a special meaning…

The song “Tears Of An Angel” was one we wrote. We found out, while we were recording the album in London, that our 3-year-old niece had a malignant brain tumour. We stopped everything and flew back to spend time with her. Obviously very inspired, we wrote this song for her. She passed away recently so it’s been a very tough time for us. Our family will have that song for the rest of our lives. We have it on our mind when we step out on stage.

Q. You had some very well credentialled people working with you on the album…

We worked with Steve Anderson (Kylie Minogue, Paul McCartney). He brought so much to the table and taught us so much. We have also worked with Judie Tsuke – an incredible writer. We fell in love with her talent and with the material she wrote for us.

Q. Has your progress exceeded your expectations - the huge response in the UK in particular?

It’s happened so quickly. UK is a tough market and to immediately strike Top 10 with this album was a fantastic feeling. All over the world things have been building well.

Q. What are the plans for 2008?

We’re planning a tour of Australia. We’ve been all over the world - UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, etc. It’s exciting and overwhelming also. It’s important to sit back and realise how lucky we are. We’ve having an amazing time.

Q. Are you looking to write more songs in preparation for the next album?

We had about fifty songs ready for the album. We spent much time writing and looking for songs. It probably took us about a year to put the album together. We have plenty more songs ready for the next album.

The album RyanDan is available through Universal Music Australia.

We're hopeful of news of an Australian tour in the not-too-distant future.

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