Photo: Daniel Dorsa
It all started when clued up musician Ryan DeRobertis left his instruments in school during “winter break” and decided to try something new. Saint Pepsi, a “joke thing”, arrived in the form of some cursory uploads. It ran against a more serious project at the time that’s since been “buried, left for dead”, and since then this prolific producer hasn’t had a chance to look back.
He’s about to head off on his first break for several months. In between now and his ‘Gin City’ EP from 2013, he’s been whisked off on an “overwhelming” SXSW, compared to Toro Y Moi, inked a record deal and opted to become a “proper songwriter.”
Initially he was seeing success with releases on Bandcamp, but Paypal wasn’t getting on board and he was unable to actually sell his music. He gave everything away for free. “It sucked, because I was trying to explain to my parents that people were actually interested in my music when I didn’t have any revenue to back that up. For a while people thought I was living in this fantasy land where I’m my own superstar.”
When Saint Pepsi was just a quick distraction for DeRobertis, he didn’t have any intention of becoming an actual songwriter, but new single ‘Fiona Coyne’/‘Fall Harder’ showcases his newly-fledged ability. Gone are the processed beats, the ‘vaporware’ influence - it’s in with the sax, the soul, the verses and the choruses. In late 2013, he “fell into a place that was unique for me to occupy in terms of my sound.” He excitably states that there’s a “really good foundation for a first record,” waiting to be unveiled.
Beyond early productions, a real breaking point came when Ryan shared a remix of Carly Rae Jepson’s ultimate earworm, ‘Call Me Maybe’. It arrived in good time, but the New York-born musician claims he “grew up around a lot of pop music.” He’s keen to say that “people don’t need to refer to songs as guilty pleasures anymore. There’s no superior intellect that they’re trying to defend or anything like that.”
Already in his initial string of songs, there’s this welcoming, all-encompassing, universal quality to what he’s doing. Cynics and snobs aren’t welcome here - it’s very much the sound of someone who’s absorbed the past decade and a half of music, readily projecting everything he’s learned in the most scatterbrained, excitable way possible.
First on the agenda is this well-earned break. “I’m in this point where I’ve exhausted myself to the point where I feel like I don’t have any original thoughts left in my brain,” he sort-of jokes. “Having a good week to get away will hopefully rejuvenate some of that. If it doesn’t, then I’m done! I’m gonna have to work in fast food for the rest of my life.”
Saint Pepsi's 'Fiona Coyne'/'Fall Harder' 7" is out now. Taken from the September issue of DIY.