The Wire‘s RPM Challenge isn’t for the faint of heart. Most musicians take 2-3 years to write, record, and produce an album. The RPM Challenge shortens that time to just one month – and the shortest month of the year at that. It’s a lot to take on.
When Ryan Lott (aka Son Lux) first heard about the challenge from NPR Music’s Robin Hilton, he wasn’t convinced it was for him.
Well, my initial reaction was I absolutely cannot do this. This is just not in the cards for me. It was just like, ah that’s too bad because that would have been a super cool opportunity, what a cool thing for them to think of me, blah, blah, blah. So I slept on it and I told a couple of people about it, one of whom is my manager, Michael. He was like, “Oh dude you have to do this.” (Laughs)
So he embarked on the challenge. Over the course of February, NPR checked in with Lott regularly to note his progress. (Very cool stuff.) For a time in the middle of the process, he didn’t think he was going to make it, but somehow he managed to not only pull it off, but produce an absolutely gorgeous album that features some of my favorite artists, including the likes of: DM Stith, Antony Hegarty, Sufjan Stevens, The National, Shara Worden, and more.
Fortunately for me, it’s so ridiculously fun to make music that working really hard, as hard as I can exhausts me but also energizes me in a really important way.
I fell in love with the finished product a few weeks ago, when NPR streamed it as part of their First Listen Series. Now you can download it for yourself, and you totally should. It’s already a serious contender for my annual top ten list.
We Are Rising is full of magical moments. It held me at attention from the very first song, “Flickers.” Take a listen yourself:
You can also download “Rising,” the first single from the album, here.
Though the album has a nice, clean feel, it also somehow manages to project a majestic quality, and this is a dichotomy I can certainly get behind.
Check out this intriguing interview (which I’ve been quoting from) with Ryan Lott and NPR’s Robin Hilton about how it all went down.