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Bio

Born in 1971, JD Ryan started playing bass back in high school, sometime around 1985 and long before he'd ever even touched a synthesizer, let alone even understood them. Like a lot of bassists, he started off playing rock and blues, and later, worked on honing his jazz and funk chops. A lot changed for him in terms of musical possibilities when discovering jazz and progressive rock, but his journey into electronics and ambient had its seeds sown when in his 20s and working in a warehouse, he discovered that someone had put on the Hearts of Space ambient music program.

"This was a real game changer for me. I didn't know this kind of music even existed. It really kind of reframed my way of looking at music, and what was possible."
 

Although he continued down the path of being a somewhat conventional bassist, he spent a lot more time listening to ambient - soaking in the works of the obvious characters such as Brian Eno and Steve Roach, as well as a lot of film music, but the pivotal point came after hearing the album, Blackouts (1977), by Ashra (German music pioneer Manuel Göttsching). It was a combination of synthesizers and looped and heavily hypnotic guitar.  It wasn't an ambient album - hardly.  Hearing some new possibilities for sound, he started putting together a small effects pedalboard to try to get some decidedly "un-bass" sounds. The board got bigger. The five-string bass was replaced by a six-string bass to extend the range. As the board grew, the ability to create complex ambient textures grew along with it.

And then the synthesizers started coming. Experiments with like-minded friends led him to hone his craft a bit more and put some more serious effort into composing, while moving further into an ambient direction. Finally, in 2022, Mostly Gray was released, under the artist name of Thorny. It received some good reception, positive reviews, and had also spent a month at the top of the Drone Zone station on the venerable internet radio station Soma.FM. This was followed by See No Sky in 2023.

"The tones and textures I create really seem to be the best representation of how I approach life... to see the grays and look at them with quiet reflection. I have a pretty 'noisy brain' sometimes, and creating this music seems to come in those times where it's a lot more quiet, or perhaps it's the source of the calmness and the quiet. I haven't figured that out, yet! I also view them as sonic representations of the natural world that I witness and am awestruck by, every day."

JD lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont with his wife and dogs and when not playing music, can usually be found on a bike or cross-country skis, depending on the weather.

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