The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

VH New Music Fridays: Soundscaping and storytelling with senior Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller explains his musical upbringing and experience producing music.
Lexie Perez
Happy New Music Friday! This week, Ryan Miller. (Photos courtesy of Ryan Miller). (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

Behind Ryan Miller — the budding singer, composer and producer — there is a soon-to-be graduating Vanderbilt senior academically pursuing the dentistry path, but the native South Floridian grew up surrounded by music equipment. His music brilliantly connects complex emotions with instrumentalism and creates a memorable moment for the listeners. 

His father performed in a band during the vibrant 1980s era, which meant that Miller and his brother were exposed to music from a tender age and parental support for Miller’s later musical pursuits. At four, Miller was already dabbling with his father’s guitar and later on he began piano lessons, where he was introduced to classical piano and neo-classical composition.

His musical career saw significant shapeshifts during his early years of high school. Before that, Miller spent his free time making acoustic pieces on Soundcloud with his friends. Miller credited the release of the musical “La La Land” in 2016 and John Mayer’s performance at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles as the most influential musical moments of his life, which inspired him to contemplate broadening his horizons. He wanted to progress from music production and acoustic arrangements to use his vocal cords to leave a different kind of artistic legacy behind him. 

Having spent countless nights with his guitar, piano and portable producing kits, Miller started his singing career by exploring a repertoire rich in natural references. His music connects audience members with themselves and enables a dialogue with nature, the universe and the stillness of natural orders in songs like rêve, past the photosphere, cratered, in orbit and The Shape of Water.

“I really like producing and feel like I can produce around my vocal weaknesses,” Miller said. 

Between his grand awakening and now, Miller described experiencing a large learning curve after pivoting more to improvisations and empiricism. He also has switched back to the guitar as his main instrument because he believes it enhances his music’s organic quality and provides it with a heightened sense of naturalness. 

“When I sit down and write, I get to really listen to my ear and play around with these random fingerings to make chords that I think sound good,” Miller said.  “That comes from a lack of real theory knowledge and established habits, but it works for me.” 

It was through this process that his latest single “How The World Spins,” released on Jan. 19 took shape. Miller explained that he doesn’t force himself to produce new music, but instead stays ready with the musical equipment cornered in his dorm as he waits for inspiration to strike. This song is at once a serenade to a lost loved one, an expression of grief and a confession about Miller’s troubles understanding how normalcy still prevails: a sentimental purge and healing. 

“Most people that hear it think it’s a sad song, and [it] probably is a sad song, but I think of it more as a realization of how cool it is that things keep going on,” Miller said.  

Amongst his other ventures, Miller is a pianist for the Vanderbilt Music Room and has participated in open microphone performances in downtown Nashville with his brother, who he calls his collaborator. Concluding his interview, Miller encouraged his audience members to cultivate confidence within themselves regardless of whether they have one specific goal or multiple. He stressed the importance of being open to new learning experiences. The leitmotif of his message is about undertaking ownership of one’s future and pursuing one’s dreams enthusiastically.

Stream Ryan Miller’s newest songs on Spotify!

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About the Contributors
Anseley Philippe
Anseley Philippe, Staff Writer and Photographer
Anseley Philippe ('25) is a potential biomedical engineering and Spanish double-major who aspires to be an immunologist. Outside of The Hustler, he can be found queuing up at 2301, wandering around campus during his evening promenades or trying to keep up with his Spanish. He can be reached at [email protected].
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Director
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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