Ryan is a multi-instrumentalist, a session musician, a qualified music teacher, a music technician, a sound engineer and somewhat of an improvisational whizz kid. His true love is blues harmonica, his passion having been stirred by his successful *blues guru* father, Pete Mitchell-Smith from a very early age. Ryan focussed on music composition and live performance on bass and acoustic guitar at Derby University, achieving a First Class BA honours degree in Popular Music with Music Technology. Ryan was only the third person in the courses history to achieve this accolade at the time.
Before all this Ryan was a “yes” man. He said yes to everything, and it got him some pretty wonderful opportunities…
At school Ryan started out as an all-rounder, never really shining in any one subject but he always worked hard when he wasn’t daydreaming out of the window. He got the C he needed for music with some serious patience from his awesome music teacher and went on to take the Grade 3 theory exam to get into music College. Despite extra lessons over the summer Ryan failed that exam by one mark with a score of 65. The course leader Tony Davis let him in. Ryan could never have taken that opportunity more seriously. He went on to pass the Btec National Diploma with an overall merit, one of four people to pass that year from twenty-five who started. During this time Ryan played at the Royal Albert Hall at the Last Night of the School Proms to an audience of 7,000 people, and in 1996 he stage managed the British saxophone congress shown on ITV.
Ryan went on to Derby University the following year but didn’t get past the audition with the guitar piece he played, and as he *knew* that was the only course for him; he waited another year, working part-time and helping out his mum after the passing of his dad Pete. He took up bass guitar and got preparing a piece that would definitely get him in. Duke Ellington’s “Don’t get around much anymore”. Half as many bassists as guitarists meant Ryan’s chances increased and he got on his ideal course. During his time in Derby, he played a solo gig to what he believed was ten people in a room, but found out afterwards, that it had been a live broadcast to 250,000 online viewers. Saying yes is good for Ryan. He got his dream qualification in the end despite failing his second year after damaging his right hand, and on re-tuning his efforts for year three he got 6 A-‘s and 2 B’s, including his dissertation and final performance exam both getting an A-.
It was only natural for Ryan to go into teaching. He got his teaching PGCE at Leeds and received the award for “best lesson” in his cohort. He went on to teach music successfully at a number of schools before he realised that standing in front of thirty people wasn’t as productive for him as working one to one, and so he took a big decision to take on a new rather unique role, as a music technician. He worked at Ossett Academy for 7 years, teaching students and teachers alike how to use Cubase, whilst fixing anything that broke, uttering the immortal words “turn it off, now turn it back on again…” on a regular basis. Ryan was forced to leave his wonder job for health reasons...
In February 2014 Ryan was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and spent 2 years going through operations and tests having no choice but to be off work for nearly 18 months. He was unable to walk for a good deal of that time due to Psoraiasis between his legs making it painful to walk or sit down which incidentally turned into the inspiration for his fourth album title "Are You Sitting Comfortably?". Health permitting Ryan now intends to gig where and when he can, airing his own songs with an eclectic mix of covers he has reworked behind-the-scenes. He also intends taking on side projects including rescuing recordings, mixing work, mastering, score production, video and sound recording and editing jobs, website design, product design, graphics development and CD artwork design. He also dabbles in blogging, artwork, inventing, and generally anything to do with being creative. Ryan is just an *ideas* kind of guy and doesn't like to stop for long.
Ryan hasn’t been idle, though. He has now released four albums, including a concept based composition album called “The Musician” and his first three albums serve as a prelude to his current album project “Are You Sitting Comfortably?”, which was released on iTunes on 24th January 2015 and on CD on 25th January to a great response. The album has eleven tracks that Ryan has written with the intention of saying thank you to all his friends and family for the support they have given him over a difficult past 2 years. These songs have been accused of being Ryan’s catchiest ever collection, with listeners claiming they could easily go away humming happily to every track on the album. Ryan is looking at getting back to gigging when his health allows.