One of the strongest ties that bind Tucson's musicians together, it seems, is a clear sense of place that permeates through genre and styling to form a cohesive, though not necessarily analogous, aural motif that just feels like the Sonoran desert. Although Ryne Warner freely admits not being from here initially, his music, performed under the title OHIOAN, offers a collective music making experience informed by the desert surroundings.
"The point of the band is to be admittedly an outsider. I don’t pretend to be from here," Warner says. "I'm sure I'd make totally different music if I was in Berlin, but I'm here grabbing ideas from everywhere."
While many of OHIOAN's former recorded works were released in a more "documentary" approach, meaning recorded essentially live as they would be played in concert, the band's forthcoming release EMPTY / EVERY MT is a more ambitious and "theatrical" approach to recording. The drawback here being, the more ambitious the project, the more studio time (and therefore money) needed to actually release the record.
That's where you come in. Warner says he and his band are seeking $4,300 to release EMPTY / EVERY MT, which was almost entirely recorded already at Dry River Studios by Andrew Colberg and now just needs to be mixed, edited and mastered.
"$4,300 is all expenses covered—to actually get it done we'd need at least $3,000 and we'd be taking losses then," he explains, continuing, "Anything less than that, and I don’t know where the hell it's going to come from."
Warner says past projects were typically funded by his carpentry work, but this new album needs support from the community. So, why not just hold a benefit show?
"In a sense, all of our shows are benefit shows. All the money we make goes back to the band," he says.
The band initially took to Kickstarter for funding, but, since they didn't make their goal, they didn't get to keep any funds raised through the campaign. Now they're seeking funding through IndieGoGo, which allows crowdsourced money raised to go to the campaigners, even if they don't reach their full goal.
If all goes well with the IndieGoGo campaign, EMPTY / EVERY MT will be released to the public in January with nine tracks that explore a concept that Warner is calling the "Appalachian Desert." Joining his upbringing on the border of Ohio near coal country in West Virginia with his observations on the copper industry locally, Warner's idea is that mining will eventually turn lush areas into barren wastelands. To express this, he and his band combine the sounds of both areas and more to form a soundscape that supports his claim.
From Roscoe Holcomb and the "mountain minor" players to the berber banjoists of Marrakech, Tinariwen's tuareg guitar tradition, and the electric reverberation of Country music throughout the Sonoran desert: we are bringing these far-flung influences together to reconcile where we come from, where are, and where we're headed.
"It's searching for what a desert sounds like and looking for that Rosetta Stone," he says. "I don't want to give all of my secrets away, but I do know how to do it."
In terms of content, Warner knows his messages might not always be popular, though he does feel they are important both on a personal level and in a larger sense. He recalls an incident in a neighboring town where an entire first grade class was poisoned by tainted water supplies—a byproduct, he says, of the mining industry.
Ryne Warner organizes a music festival at Cowtown Keeylocko bi-annually.
"I know my music isn't for everyone. It can be divisive and explicitly political sometimes," Warner says. "I think it's worth it though and that's why I'm asking for money for it."
He does admit not being entirely comfortable with crowdfunding in general.
"It does feel like there's the potential for a public shaming," he says. "But it's fucking good. I feel like I've grown out of self-doubt at this point."
Truthfully, crowdfunding typically leaves a sour taste in most peoples' mouths, but for this project it's essentially just preordering an album half of a year in advance. However, handmade botanical salves, locally harvested desert herb bundles, screen printed tapestries, unique packaging and even exclusive personalized music sent to you over the course of a year are also on the table, depending on how much is donated.
So, if you're curious to hear OHIOAN's ambitious take on the desert sound, you can donate to the IndieGoGo campaign and get EMPTY / EVERY MT on digital, CD or vinyl formats. Warner says once the album is finished, he has a label already interested in putting it out, but, without the funds, he can't get it to them. The campaign will end on June 23.