Riun Garner is a triple threat. The Vancouverite is an actor with credits including guest spots on Supernatural and Riverdale, and recently a role in the History channel’s Project Blue Book. He is also a director and is behind fantastic music videos from local artists such as KICCC, Hey Ocean!, and ROYAL.
To complete the trifecta, Garner creates music of his own and recently released his debut EP All We Know and All We Forget.
Garner has been writing and recording songs as voice memos on his phone for years and it was with the help of some close friends over a weekend this past fall that he was able to bring some of them to life.
The four songs were recorded using an analog reel-to-reel tape machine that had been found abandoned in an apartment hallway. You can hear the background fuzz within each of the songs and with little more than Garner and his acoustic, you can’t help but feel as if you’re practically in the same room.
Garner’s stripped-down approach is inspired by the likes of Elliott Smith, Jose Gonzalez, and early Bon Iver. His delicate emotional performance also calls back to some of the feelings delivered on Sufjan Stevens’ tragically spectacular 2015 album Carrie & Lowell.
And while there is a fragileness to his music, these songs are far from tragic and are ultimately meant to inspire more than anything else.
“Summer and Smoke” has a cloud-gazing dreaminess to it and was partly influenced by stories of travels from a musician couple Garner once met, who were living in a van.
The title shares its name with the Tennessee Williams play (Garner went to theatre school) and the song itself encourages a curious mind and a lust for life.
You can feel every string Garner plucks and you can even hear his lips part as he sings softly. It’s what makes this music so intimate but also so easy on the ears. You’re so close to his voice that it almost comes off as some sort of soothing ASMR.
“Wrote Myself Off” has done very well for itself. The EP’s closer has been added to a couple of Spotify playlists including “The Most Beautiful Songs in the World” and has made its way to over 50,000 streams.
The song stands apart from the others with the addition of supporting female vocals from an artist by the name of Seyaa, and piano as its backbone. Garner says the song comes from a time when he stopped playing music and began to question his craft.
Where do you find the muse when its dead?(What made you forget?)Or is it still living in my head?
It’s a thoughtful sentiment, as he questions if the muse to create music is still in him, and the way he expresses it in the song is beautiful. With the lovely female vocals to support and the somber piano, the song does have a somewhat fuller presence and even a bit more of a mature feeling to it.
Garner has an almost old and wise personality to his performance; his fragile delivery walks the pace of a man with many more years under his belt. It’s all for the better, as it just adds to the emotion in his voice and as a listener, you feel trust in the words like he’s sharing some deep wisdom.
This EP wouldn’t be classified as pop but “Trouble” sure comes close. The lead single tries to mend a relationship between a couple who is questioning if they’re meant to be. It’s as stripped-down as it gets, but the song’s structure feels fit for a pop hit.
The lyric video Garner put together for the song is precious. It shows a conversation via text between the couple and it captures the song’s heartache perfectly.
Fellow single “Fabric” opens the EP and as hard as it is to pull a favourite out of these four songs…there’s something extra special to this one.
The song tackles the insecurities and challenges we face in becoming the person we want to be. Garner encourages you to “let your heart be what it wants to be” and to put yourself out there. “You’ll see,” he sings, “it opens the fabric.”
It’s a fabulously poetic way to speak about opening doors and presenting yourself to possibilities. To use fabric as the metaphor is such a creative idea and it creates an incredibly moving musical moment.
While encouraging, he doesn’t hide the hard truth in the song. He sings, “Even if you have a brother, even if you have a sister, you gotta learn to do it on your own.” It’s a thought we’ve surely all had. As much support as we may have from our loved ones, in the end, it’s up to you to fight for the life you want.
With these songs out in the world now, Garner is looking ahead with a possible full-length on the horizon.
He’s been given support after being named one of the Top 5 winners for this year’s Canadian Songwriter Challenge presented by Music BC, Creative BC, and Bell Media.
Garner and his friend/collaborator Tyler Paterson were given the funding to record a song called “Should’ve Known” under the mentorship of Said The Whale’s Tyler Bancroft.
Garner is grateful to be a part of the community that is continuing to grow through the Canadian Songwriter Challenge and seems eager to create more music after the experience.
Well, Riun, after this fantastic showing, you’ve got some eager ears waiting as well.