WARMER MIXTAPES #1397 | by Ryan Schmidt [Ryan Skyy]
1. Arthur De Lulli | Chopsticks (Performed by Brett Youens)
An unlikely choice for a top 10 favorite, but I chose this because it was the first song I ever learned on the piano, taught to me by my great Aunt Shirley on her piano, of which she would eventually pass down to me after she passed away from breast cancer. My great aunt introduced me to the piano which ultimately shaped the rest of my life as a musician, composer, producer, singer and performer. She had no formal training, but could play anything by ear. Her mother played piano for silent movies and her cousin, Chester Shull, wrote the #1 Billboard hit (It’s No) Sin by The Four Aces in 1951 and so she was passing along the musical torch to me.
2. Donny Hathaway | A Song For You (Leon Russell Cover)
This song holds special meaning in my heart because the melody, lyrics, and SOUL behind it really captivated me as a child and made me fall in Love with Motown and Soulful Music. I would listen to this song on repeat as a kid and just get lost in the story and picture Donny was painting for me. It was one of my first experiences with the Power of Songwriting.
3. Ace Of Base | The Sign
My first taste of Swedish POP Music! I was obsessed with this song when it first came out. I was only a kid at the time, but the delicious beats and catchiness of the melodies and vocals really resonated with me. This ended up being my gateway drug into Dance Music and eventually lead me to House Music, which I produce now! Swedish Music’s influence on POP and Dance Music stays with me even to this day and has definitely shaped my Musical Palette.
4. Lauryn Hill | The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
My favorite album of all time. It saddens me now because of how homophobic Lauryn has become publicly in her recent statements, but as a kid the rawness in her voice, in the poetry behind the lyrics, was riveting for me. I remember being at my grandma’s house with my family in the other room, just sitting on her steps listening to this album over and over and over again. I didn’t necessarily relate to everything she was saying, but her unapologetic realness and willingness to wear her deepest thoughts on her sleeve was what stuck with me. I also studied her voice and learned to sing like her connecting the Emotion to the vocals. She shaped my voice as I’d sing along.
5. Dixie Chicks | Cowboy Take Me Away
This song is rather difficult for me to list, but still represents a major part of my adulthood. It was my song for my ex-boyfriend Phillip and I, who after 5 years of us being together, passed away from suicide. When we first met, our romance was rather swift and unforgiving and he was set to leave for College 4 weeks later. He always said I saved him and the song reminded him of me. When he was leaving for School I remember being in my car, his parents behind us in their SUV with all of Phillip’s things packed up ready to make the long drive to drop him off at College for the first time. We were both so sad because we thought it was the end and, when he came over to say goodbye to me, this song started playing in my car and we both completely lost it. I’ll never forget that moment and also the moment watching him drive away and just feeling so lost and helpless. He ended up transferring so we could be together and we spent 5 years together, moving to NYC, and pursuing our dreams. It was quite a rollercoaster of a relationship that ultimately ended on a bad note, and not soon after he passed away. I will always remember the good times and never forget the lessons I’ve learned from the hard times.
6. Stevie Wonder | Ribbon In The Sky
Stevie is hands down my favorite writer and vocalist of all time. I’ve admired him ever since I was a kid, learned all of his songs, learned to sing like him, play like him. I just loved him so much. Mainly the Soul and Emotion behind his voice and his incredible songwriting abilities. Him overcoming his handicap/obstacle of being blind inspired me to overcome my own obstacles and, what I thought to be, handicaps. This song is also where my last name Skyy comes from. I used to lose myself in the hallways of School singing Stevie tunes and I sang this all the time. People used to call me Stevie or Mr. Ribbon In The Sky or Mr. Sky and it eventually just stuck and I went with it.
7. Medina | You And I (deadmau5 Remix)
When I was in College I became a bartender and eventually a club promoter for a popular Saturday night party in Pittsburgh. This song was popular at the time, and up until I began promoting, I really didn’t like Dance Music (ironic since I produce Dance Music now, LOL) mainly because I wasn’t exposed to it enough. This was one of the first House tracks I fell in love with that really showed me the beauty of Dance Music. Watching the way people would respond to the Music and the Love in the room really made me fall in love with and want to produce Dance Music.
8. Ryan Skyy | No One (Radio Edit)
I’m not putting my own song on here to say it’s my favorite, but it is memorable because it’s the first Dance song I wrote and also what introduced me to my now mentor of 10 years, DJ Strobe, whom I met working on this song. Strobe produced it for me and showed me what could be if I wrote Dance Music. I never had a chance to hear my Music like that and he really opened my eyes to the possibilities and inspired me to keep going.
9. Pulse | The Lover That You Are (with Antoinette Roberson)
Carla Bianco is my other mentor of 10 years, and this song she wrote in the 90s and became a #1 Billboard hit after she more or less stalked Jellybean (the producer who discovered Madonna) for 3 days waiting for him outside his office and eventually being let in and signed to an RCA Publishing deal after she played him her Music. Carla has always been fearless and inspires me to push harder, push deeper and always break rules and boundaries.
10. The Five Satins | In The Still Of The Night
In High School I was in an A Capella boy group that formed from our local choir and this was my solo number during our sets. It’s memorable to me because being in this group introduced me to 5-part tight harmonies and a musical repertoire ranging from Classical to Medieval to Motown to Contemporary Pop to Folk Music to Doo-Wop. The 5 of us toured Italy when I was in 10th grade and performed in Central and Northern Italy before returning. It was an important experience for me to really immerse myself in harmonies and arrangements and definitely shapes every song I write and record today.