Growing up in rural Ohio, Ryan Oxford never really experienced any sort of formative music subculture. His friends back then were more likely to drive a tractor to school than to host house shows. He’d watch MTV’s 120 Minutes, but rarely connected with anything he heard. Instead, his interest grew independently from more personal experiences.
He remembers being strangely drawn to the smell of the old RCA turntable in the attic of his grandparents’ duplex. There was also the deep admiration he felt watching his dad embarrass his sister with shameless air guitar solos to Bowie’s “Five Years”. Perhaps that performance inspired his own debut – at age six, dancing to “These Boots Are Made for Walking” in front of his mom’s full-length mirror with an audience he didn’t exactly know was there.
As Oxford got older and moved away from home, this interest became an obsession. His self-education started in Akron, listening to salvaged, broken and moldy 45s at Jimi Imij’s unofficial Ohio Historical Music Society. From there, inspired by reading about how Brian Wilson stayed in the studio to write and record Pet Sounds while the rest of the Beach Boys were touring, he spent his entire tax return on an 8-track tape machine and taught himself the only way he knew how – by making mistake after mistake. Ten years later, Oxford’s a producer, composer and songwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He lives in a loft above his studio, Color Therapy Recording, where he recorded, produced and mixed his debut album.
Fa Fa Fa Fired is a long time coming for Oxford, a testament to his determined, singular path. It’s full of twangy guitars, sassy backing vocals and the sweet hiss of reel-to-reel tape that he still can’t shake. The songs are playful, charming, melancholy and honest. They’re mostly about being dumb and in love and sometimes just about being dumb. The album was recorded with help from Dominik Schmidt and features Christian Blunda (Mean Jeans, Patsy’s Rats), Nick Dewitt (Pretty Girls Make Graves), Scott Hartlaub (Jessica Lea Mayfield) and Arjan Miranda (Black Mountain, Strand of Oaks).
Fa Fa Fa Fired is out now on Mama Bird Recording Co.