Caleche Ryder grew up in rural California riding horses and singing country songs. After competing in Miss America 2008 as Miss Nevada, Ryder turned her focus to music and hasn't looked back. She recently released her single "West Coast Cowgirl" and graciously took the time to speak about the song, her upcoming EP and more.
When was it that you decided to pursue music professionally?
Music is my passion; I have always loved singing and dreamed of being a country singer. I’ve actually been singing since I was a little girl. I sang in choir, played Sandy in a sixth grade production of Grease and sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” at graduation. I was Miss Nevada in the 2008 Miss America pageant and my talent was singing. Miss America is a huge ordeal and after it is over, everyone takes a deep breath before moving onto the next thing. The majority of the girls got married and had kids, but I started dating a guy who encouraged me to pursue a music career. He knew it was my passion, thought it was totally do-able and, along with my family, gave me the extra motivation and courage to pursue it.
I started working on my career and writing my own music. At that point, I had gone through a lot. I was in a relationship for six years, was cheated on and then we broke up, so I had a lot of stuff to write about. And it turns out, I am really good at writing lyrics! I don’t mean that [in a bragging way], but writing has always been my strong point. Growing up, I was really good in English, but Math…shoot me you know! (laughing)
I hear ya! Do you write all of your songs yourself or do you co-write as well?
I co-write with lots of people here in LA, but I write with my producer, David Kidd the most. We get each other. Over the years it’s gotten easier as we’ve gotten better and faster at writing together. He knows me really well which helps because I am writing with someone who knows my past and my feelings and is a friend.
I can write a song myself and then bring it to my producer or another writing partner and they always make it a little better. Two heads are better than one I think. It's rare you see a song written by one person be a slam dunk. If someone else can give a tiny piece of input and make it that much better, why not. If you run it by someone you trust, they can help you take it to the next level. I do the same thing for other artists too. They’ll bring me songs they’re stuck on and I give them my perspective. It’s really cool.
It definitely can help to have another perspective.
Did you grow up listening to country?
I grew up riding horses and country music was always on in the barn. Mom loved all kinds of music, but especially R&B and Hip Hop. I grew up on Luther Vandross, Anita Baker and even like, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. I love it all, but my dial is always on country.
What’s the story behind your current single, “West Coast Cowgirl?”
I’ve always wanted a song like “West Coast Cowgirl,” which I wrote with David. My girlfriends and I grew up in rural Southern California and we all listened to country music, but it was never about us. It was always about the South and everywhere else. I wanted an anthem for me and my girls that we could hear on country radio.
Finally this year we are starting to get a California Country buzz, which didn’t exist when I was younger. It’s crazy to see how country is not only accepted, but it’s actually cool now. California has country artists and Stagecoach, which makes me so happy because it gives California Country a leg to stand on and offers bigger opportunities. It’s perfect timing for me.
In terms of timing, do you have plans to release an EP anytime soon?
I toyed around with just putting out singles, but I decided to release an EP, which will be out in the next few weeks, because I want people to hear the roundedness of my writing. It’s short, only four songs including “West Coast Cowgirl.” It has the first song I ever wrote, “Whiskey,” which is a beautiful, sad ballad about me running into an ex at a bar. The hook is “it’s gonna take a lot of whiskey/gonna take more than your pretty lies/before I make a move so risky/the problem is I always liked the way that you kissed me.” I love that song even though I don’t perform it when I play live. I find that when people are at my shows they want to move and dance. But, I do have another ballad called “True North” [which is not on the record] which is the song I always sing live. That song is about the current man in my life and how he’s been my North Star--which is a total departure from where I was a few years ago. The EP also has a song called “C’est La Vie” which is a fan favorite. It’s a fun mid-tempo song about the ex, teasing him because he has my name tattooed on his arm. And finally, there is “Barfight” which is another fun, up tempo song about a girl who can’t figure out how all of these fights start every time she walks into a bar.
Look forward to hearing it!
In addition to writing, recording, singing and performing, you also are involved with a whiskey company, Wicked Tango, as well as Nitro Circus. How did you connect with them?
It was meant to be. The owner [of Wicked Tango] has a vacation place in Lake Tahoe where I went to high school and my cheerleading coach lives next door to him. She called me and said ‘hey, my next door neighbor has a whiskey company and he’s looking for a country artist to collaborate with.’ From there, she put me in touch with him; we met a few times to make sure we shared the same perspective and hit it off. Their brand is perfect and very country music oriented. They make affordable whiskey and moonshine for the blue collar hard working American. Their motto is work hard, play harder. Everything fell into place the way it is supposed to be and it’s been working out perfectly. Now, I’m the official country artist for them and face of the company, which is really cool.
Wicked Tango was just named the title sponsor for Nitro Circus, which is one of largest selling arena tours in the world. Nitro Circus is like the X Games meets Cirque du Soleil and was started by Travis Pastrana and Johnny Knoxville. David and I wrote their theme song, “Get Down,” which will also be my next single at radio. The song was recently used in three different commercials that were aired like storylines on NBC Sports during the Nitro Circus Special. We’re also in talks trying to figure out how to incorporate my show into the Nitro show, whether that would be going on the road or something else; it's really exciting.
You definitely have a full plate. Being that everything is moving along in California, would you ever consider moving to Nashville?
I love Nashville. It’s beautiful and I would love to buy a house there, but I think what has worked for me is to stay true to my roots. I like having that LA and California flavor and I want my music to have that same feel: country roots with a California Country and Pop infusion. I’ve got a good thing going here.
Sounds like you do!
In addition to everything we spoke about, what’s ahead for you?
I am definitely busy! I will be performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival which is held October 2-4th. I am so excited about that because I will be playing alongside Tim McGraw who I grew up listening to in the barn. It’s going to be surreal! We’ll also be super busy with Nitro Circus and we’re going to film a music video for “Get Down.” It’s pretty crazy, but it’s a dream come true.
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