Whether you belted out his 2004 smash hits “True” and “On The Way Down,” watched his relationships play out on The Ashlee Simpson Show and The Hills or crushed on him hard enough to have his poster hanging on your bedroom wall (just us? Didn’t think so), you know the name Ryan Cabrera.
HC sat down with Ryan in NYC to talk all things romance, reality TV and, of course, his new album. After an extremely candid conversation, we can confirm: Ryan Cabrera is back, and he’s better than ever.
Check out the interview below to find out about his craziest fan moment, which other singer he "stalked" to the bathroom and how he stays friends with (almost) all of his exes.
Her Campus: How do you use social media to interact with your fans?
Ryan Cabrera: It’s really cool because it’s a way that we can actually find out directly what the fans want, as far as certain things like asking, “Hey, should we come to this city soon?” And then we get to hear the replies of who wants it. Or it could be like, “I can’t think of an album name, I want to do a contest where fans can help me think of suggestions.” Whatever it is that’s happening, we can actually reach out and get their feedback. I actually do read it and reply back.
HC: Any memorable, crazy fan moments?
RC: Nothing too recent, but I’ll always remember the girl who spent the night backstage underneath a table. She somehow snuck backstage the night before, slept there, and then popped up when we finally got back there. She told me the story and I was like, “What are you doing?” and she was like, “I slept here last night, I snuck in so that I could get to meet you guys!” I was like, “That’s awesome,” so we let her hang.
HC: Is that creepy or flattering?
RC: No, I loved it! (laughs) I thought it was awesome. She was harmless. I mean, I would do the same thing. We let her hang out. I’m not suggesting [doing] that, but she was harmless.
HC: You said you would do the same thing. Who would get you to that point? Who makes you starstruck?
RC: I don’t really get starstruck except for [by] really random things. I get starstruck by the things that people are like, “What is that?” But I would camp out for Dave Matthews. I did stalk him! I saw him at the Grammys; he went into the bathroom and I followed him.
HC: You followed him into the bathroom?
RC: No, not into the bathroom. I followed him to the bathroom, but I waited outside of the bathroom. Then he came out and we took a picture together.
HC: So let’s talk about the album. You’ve done some amazing collaborations on it and worked with incredible artists and producers! Is there anyone you haven’t collaborated with who you want to work with in the future?
RC: Dave [Matthews] as far as artist-wise, as far as producers, the three that I did [work with] were star producers for me. Those were three guys that I got to work with that I always wanted to. As far as artist-wise, Dave or Paul Simon.
HC: I listened to “House On Fire,” and it’s great. It has a really pop-y vibe to it. Is that the vibe for the whole album?
RC: It is. I can’t help but write pop songs. I have a way of writing that I can’t get out of, but in a good way.
HC: You stay true to yourself.
RC: Yeah, you can still hear it on acoustic, but for the production we brought it up to a much more fun, pop-y kind of record because that’s what I love at the end of the day.
HC: It’s kind of a party album?
RC: Yeah. It’s a top-down, blast-it kind of record.
HC: How do you think your music has evolved?
RC: It’s just more mature. From the music to the vocals to the melodies to the lyrics, as a whole I wanted to take my time with it so you can see growth. I wanted to get better as a writer.
HC: “Take It All Away” had romance ballads. There were some anthems on there!
RC: There are a couple of those on here, too.
HC: So you talk about your love life on the album?
RC: Yeah, the whole album—it isn’t necessarily specifically about the love in my life, but it’s about loving life in general and the people that I’m with, and even the heartbreak songs still have a positive spin.
HC: You haven’t necessarily been shy about dating in the public eye…
RC: Obviously not! You don’t have a choice with the way the Internet is now. There’s no hiding anything anymore.
HC: In the past decade, you’ve been on a few reality shows and we’ve watched your relationships play out. Have you learned anything from those experiences, either in terms of dating or fame?
RC: Not the dating part. I’ve learned that the way people sway things is always really funny and people just want all of this drama to happen. I’m still friends with pretty much every single girl I’ve ever dated, actually. There’s only just one that really does not like me.
HC: Oh no!
RC: She’s still a little bitter about the way things went down.
HC: Do you have any tips for staying friends with an ex?
RC: The thing is, at one point, you cared enough for that person to date them. Just because you’re not meant to be together in a relationship doesn’t mean that you can’t still be cool with each other. I still want every girl that I’ve dated to do well. I don’t have any negative feelings toward them. People are going to mess up, people are going to do dumb things, but that doesn’t mean that [he or she is] a terrible person. My ex-girlfriend ended up marrying one of my best friends. It takes a little bit, but then it’s like, “Oh, that’s actually awesome. I want to see them both happy.” Everybody that I date, I want to see happy.
HC: I’ve heard you talk in interviews about Ashlee [Simpson] and that the dating aspect on [The Ashlee Simpson Show] was very real. Was it like that on the other shows that you were on?
RC: No. I think at some point culture started to take a turn for the dramatic. If there’s not drama happening, it’s boring to them.
HC: A lot of people on The Hills have come out and said that it wasn’t real.
RC: They didn’t like me talking when that show was on because I’d always say, “Hell no, don’t believe any of that!”
HC: Are you single or dating?
RC: Single. When you have the schedule that we have right now, I wouldn’t put anyone through that. There was someone that I was hanging out with but then I told her, straight up, that I was gonna be on the road and I don’t have 100 percent commitment to be in a relationship.
HC: That’s fair.
RC: It was, I was being 100 percent honest, but she didn’t like it. That’s who’s not too keen on me right now. It’s new.
HC: So it’s a fresh breakup, or “parting”…
RC: Yeah, we weren’t officially anything and right now my main goal is just my music and getting that part. If the other part happens, it happens.
HC: If it does happen, what do you look for in a girl?
RC: A girl that’s comfortable being herself and doesn’t change anything about herself based on who she’s around. She’s gotta be honest. I don’t care about the bad sh*t about you or the past; as long as you’re honest about it, then I’m cool. I don’t judge.
HC: Do you have a favorite song on the album now?
RC: For the time being, “House On Fire.” It’s just so fun. It’s a record that makes you happy. It’s hard to not be happy when you hear the record. Also, “Forgot How To Fly,” which is the completely acoustic ballad. It doesn’t sound like “True,” but it’s the song that doesn’t need the full production. It’s basically me, the guitar and some strings.
HC: The fans will be happy about that! I saw on Instagram you put up a picture of you running on the West Side Highway. How do you have time on the road to fit workouts in?
RC: I wake up early! I worked out this morning at 8 a.m.
HC: Aside from running, what other workouts do you do?
RC: I usually hike. If we’re not on tour and I’m home, it’s hiking every morning. But if we’re on the road, it’s just whatever you can fit in, as long as it’s something. For me it’s usually hiking. Hiking and tennis! And bowling!
HC: That’s a good date night activity!
HC: What do you want your fans to take away from the album?
RC: Take it all away! (laughs) From this record, the main goal is to promote people being happy and enjoying music and what it does to you. That’s why I wanted the record to be so uplifting and positive. I want it to be something that you listen to and it just brightens up your day for the hour and fifteen minutes that it’s on.