Phones ring and field recordings follow: footsteps in a friend’s backyard, getting drunk at a bar in Chicago, screaming kids at an indoor pool, and Kenyan rug makers singing. All of these sounds churn within tidal tape manipulations. Relating to a small, solitary sea bird on the opening track of Sea Lion, Ryan McPhun sings, “The great Pacific can connect you with your relatives.”

McPhun was born and raised in the seaside town of Ventura, CA. Eventually his hunger for travel and new experiences led him to his newfound home away from home. New Zealand has offered Ryan its mountainous South Island, rugged beaches and the North Island’s enchanted forests, to which Ryan replies with sounds he has borrowed and fashioned from machine, Manuka trees and many a musical instrument. Although New Zealand is somewhat isolated in the southern most part of the Pacific Ocean, Ryan has remained true to his buccaneer instinct. He and his Dictaphone (portable tape recorder) have ventured into the wilds of Africa, the ancient monasteries of Thailand, and the haunting landscapes that surround his everyday.

In 2004 McPhun gathered some like-minded Kiwi wanderers and formed the band Ryan McPhun and The Ruby Suns. He also enjoyed stints in various Auckland-based pop groups including The Tokey Tones, The Reduction Agents, and The Brunettes, with whom he toured the US with The Shins and Rilo Kiley both in ’05. McPhun also plays drums, percussion and background vocals on The Brunettes recent Sub Pop release Structure and Cosmetics.

The band is now shortly, sweetly and simply called The Ruby Suns. At present the live band consists of Ryan McPhun, Amee Robinson, and Imogen Taylor.

Tane Mahuta

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The Ruby Suns