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Uncovering Columbus: Ryan Miller

If you’ve moved through the back rows of local shows and shuffled through the seats at a patio near you, there’s a chance Ryan Miller is nearby; the erstwhile DJ has been spinning records at so many events the last five years, he’s a fixture—one easy to just account for as part of the decor. [...]
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If you’ve moved through the back rows of local shows and shuffled through the seats at a patio near you, there’s a chance Ryan Miller is nearby; the erstwhile DJ has been spinning records at so many events the last five years, he’s a fixture—one easy to just account for as part of the decor.

Such ubiquitousness has only helped to serve his long-standing photography habit, one that has now become a spin-off of his nightlife-life; an honest, authentic, and in-the-moment snapshot of Columbus as it lets its hair down after the street lights come on—captured (mostly) on film and (almost always) in black-and-white.

This month, Miller lets (614) behind the lens to talk about harnessing the hearts and souls of his subjects—whether they be in motion or in pose. – Travis Hoewischer

Tell me the fun and the f*ckery of working with film. Film is fun for a number of reasons, one of which is the reward of having captured something spontaneously (or not) and seeing the results at a later time. There’s no instant gratification with film. Even if you’re developing and processing your stuff, there’s still a lag. The f*ckery would definitely be the occasional chagrin of seeing those results when you totally miss the mark.

I’ve watched your work develop and change over the past few years. What about this particular style has grabbed you? Do you feel you’ve locked into something that feels very “you” as a voice, or lens? I’ve grown to love my little arsenal of “enthusiast point-and-shoots.” I’m sure you’ve seen me with either a Minolta Hi-Matic AF (frequently used by famed Beastie Boys’ photographer Ricky Powell when capturing shots of them, Warhol, Basquiat, Cindy Crawford, etc.) or one of my beloved Olympus Stylus Epics. It takes the work out of the shot. You really do point and shoot. The awesome part about the Stylus Epic is that it was released as the demand for film cameras was about to decline, so the technology is pretty advanced when it comes to the autofocus. It has a fast fixed lens, spot metering; it’s waterproof, and duh, it’s film. That immediacy of claiming the shot in almost any situation is always within reach.

One of my favorite things about this set: often times people focus on B&W photography as if it’s gonna automatically attach an old-school aesthetic to it, but in many cases, it still looks very modern. In many of your shots, it truly looks like a sort of Columbus past. Do you agree? Is that effect somewhat surprising to you after seeing the after-process results? It is surprising sometimes. I am still not always thinking in film, or black and white, so the intent is mostly in a very now/modern context. I find that cars and contemporary fashion help offset the dated appearance. Another thing that I don’t discount is the fact that a lot of my favorite subjects in Columbus are the old buildings and houses that have somehow escaped being demolished or turned into condos. That’s a common thing in most cities these days, especially back home in Charlotte. It’s really gross and depressing. I try to document things that I enjoy because I know they won’t always be around.

How has working with film actually changed how you see things through the lens? Back to “seeing in black and white” and that type of thing… I’m not sure film itself has changed the way I see through the lens, but if I’m using an SLR or rangefinder with manual control dials and knobs, I’m a little more thoughtful about my approach. It’s seems like it’s always about taking risks, as you’re limited to the amount of frames you get per roll. It’s made me a more patient photographer, and more cognizant of how I’m framing a shot and composing my image. It’s influenced my digital photography as well. I’ve actually started to prefer a monochromatic/black and white look more than color lately.

A lot of photography is cultural observation. “People watching,” as it were. Is that part of what draws you to document the goings on around you? I do enjoy the art of observation, especially people in party or social atmospheres where there’s a lot of movement: mentally, emotionally, and physically. I try to feel a place’s vibes out, and also the people. If I can get a good mix of candids and portraits and tie that into a miniature narrative that captures the heart of an event, I’m happy.

How does being a DJ connect with shooting? Is it mostly about reading a room, or people in general—their moods and what they want to express? [Being a DJ] has helped in the “reading a room” department. I’ve spent a lot of time gauging the feelings and attitudes of large groups of people via body language. When taking photos, I use that same skillset. The number one thing it hasn’t helped with, at least in Columbus, is being inconspicuous.

Follow Miller @georgebrazil and at flaneuryan.com.

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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Arts & Culture

(614) Music Club: Sarob

Julian Foglietti

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Every week (614) Music Club teams up with your favorite local artists to build a playlist of what they’re listening to, and what’s inspiring them. This week’s playlist is brought to you by the R&B artist Sarob.


Photo by: Wyze

Tell me about some of the songs you’ve selected.

"The first one is Sobeautiful by Musiq Soulchild. So every week with my vocal coach, I have to learn a song. And I've been trying to figure out how to do vocal gliding. Which is not a strong point for me, and I remember hearing that song and being like, OK, this is it. The song is just beautifully written and composed, so when you add the technique to it, it’s just great. The other song was Workin On It by Dwele, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. Workin On It uses this J Dilla beat that just feels really timeless."

Have the past few months changed the direction or mood of the music you're creating. 

"So I have been making stuff here and there, and then I'll go into something creative for like two days. I'll just be making like a bunch of songs and then I'll stop for two weeks, not even want to look at a microphone or anything. I mean, it's a lot more inward, so I’m learning how to better communicate the things I'm experiencing, and set the scenes for people and talk about what is going on. Also not having my band has been a challenge. I’m more of a thinker, I play the keyboard, and I can build a song, but I’m not the most gifted musician so having to build a lot of it on my own is tricky."

Do you have any plans or releases coming up? 

"Yeah, so I had a song Pleasures U Like that was made for my last album, but it didn’t quite fit the story of the album. So I just forgot about it until recently and I finished the vocals just before the lockdown, and now I’m releasing it on Bandcamp as part of a fundraiser for The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. All of the proceeds from the song are going to go to support their Pandemic Emergency Fund, and it just felt like a good way to do something that would impact everything going on."

Sarob's Playlist

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Coronavirus

Breakaway Music Festival will not take place in 2020; to return in 2021

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Those in the music festival community have continued to rally their broken spirits behind live streams and classic archival sets in lieu of the live event industry being put on indefinite hold. 

With each passing day, though, hopes for any large concert gathering happening in 2020 seem incredibly bleak and unrealistic.

News from Midwest college market concert and music festival promoter Prime Social Group on Thursday further confirmed the modern hippie’s greatest fear: a summer void of camping out in otherworldy open fields and following their favorite musicians across the country. 

PSG operates a network of festivals under the Breakaway Music handle that take place annually in Columbus; Charlotte, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Washington D.C.; Nashville; and San Diego. The promotion company made the difficult decision to cancel all six of its 2020 editions of the EDM and pop-focused Breakaway Music Festival with a fully-committed plan to return in 2021. The decision was made due to health and safety concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets to the event can be carried over for the 2021 edition of BMF. For those who choose this option, you’ll receive an extra ticket and merch bundle. PSG will also provide refunds if transferring tickets for 2021 is not an option.

Columbus has been making its claim as a music festival destination over the past few years. Breakaway, along with events like Sonic Temple, Wonderbus, and Buckeye Country Superfest, has been bringing quality acts to Columbus consistently. The festival’s presence will be greatly missed this upcoming August.

“Now more than ever, we could use that special sense of unity achieved through live events and music festivals,” said Prime Social managing partner Zach Ruben. “We cannot wait to Leave it All Behind and make memories with all of you again. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to one another.”

In the meantime, Breakaway plans to release exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from past editions, new digital content, and various live streams. Visit breakawaymusicfestival.com to keep up to date with what PSG has in store.

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