Ryan "Bars" Connelly

How did you start? Tell us your story!

My name is Ryan "Bars" Connelly. I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL and I grew up very influenced and inspired by Hip Hop. That was the first genre I was attracted to and the genre of music I started making. I remember writing rhymes in my notebooks on the bus in middle school (inspired by Eminem), then recording freestyles on Sound Recorder Windows 98 in high school (inspired by Lil Wayne). After I graduated high school, I started making music with my stepbrother, Bryan Rucker. He was an aspiring singer-songwriter at the time and we blended his catchy melodies and acoustic guitar with rap and that's when we started our band called The Norm. During this time I was fascinated with recording and production and decided to go to school for engineering at SAE Miami. I graduated in 2011 and worked in various studios in South Florida after that. I interned for producers such as Supa Dups, Lu Diaz, and Ben Billions. During this time I got credits recording Jeremih, Trina, Poo Bear, and many other artists in the Miami area. After working in studios for two years I decided it was time to link back up with my brother and pursue our career as artists.

In 2013 I moved to Milledgeville, GA where we formed The Norm as a full band. We started playing at bars, then local festivals in front of 3000 people in just six months. After growing the band in Milledgeville, we decided to move to Athens, GA in 2015. In Athens, we continued to grow to play at venues such as the Georgia Theatre, 40 Watt Club, and various fraternity parties. In 2017 we won Flagpole Artist of the Year. Later that year is when we decided to move to Atlanta. In 2018 we competed in a battle of the bands' competition and won. Our prize was getting to play on a stage at Bonnaroo 2018. All this time I had been recording, mixing, and co-producing for the band and we had released several projects and singles at this time. Once we got settled in Atlanta, I started working in studios again. I started an internship at BNDWTH Studios which provided me the platform to really hone my craft. The environment was full of very talented individuals and the talent seemed to be contagious. During my time here I gained credits recording Anthony Hamilton, Trinidad James, Rittz, Kodie Shane, and many more. I also got much more involved in production during my time there. During quarantine, my brother cooked up about 15 songs for The Norm and started releasing a single every two weeks. We've started collaborating with other artists a lot more. Our latest single is called "GWYWF" with Jordan Danielle Harris. It dropped Friday, Sept. 4th so go check it out!

What is your experience in the music industry? Do you have any formal training or schooling? If not, are you self-taught and how did you learn your craft? What is your learning style? What are your favorite educational resources (ex. college, Youtube, etc.)?

I went to school for engineering at SAE Miami and I enjoyed my time there; however, I learned a lot more from interning at studios. I don't think it's worth the money to pay for formal education if you're going to work for free in a studio. Especially nowadays where there are endless resources online. Mix with the Masters is a great resource. I also like to watch engineers like Alex Tumay and Mixed by Ali on Twitch.

What are some credits and achievements that you have? Who have you worked with? Who have you collaborated with?

I've recorded Jeremih, Poo Bear, Anthony Hamilton, Trina, Rittz, Maffio, and Kodie Shane. I've mixed for Tropidelic, Matisyahu, The Norm, and Lamar Turner. I've produced for The Norm, Josh Waters, Bryan Rucker, YNIQ, Jack Thriller, and Jacob and the Good People.

Who are your biggest influences growing up and why? Who do you like to listen to now and why? Who’s on your playlist right now?

My biggest influences growing up are all rappers. Eminem, Jay Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne, Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat, Tupac, and Biggie. I'm def more of a fan of Pop and R&B now. I like stuff with a good melody. Sometimes I get sick of hearing straight bars. Some artists you can find on my playlist now are RMR, The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, Blackbear, N.E.R.D., Kehlani, 070 Shake, and MGK.

What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered or faced in this industry?

One of the biggest obstacles I've encountered in this industry is dealing with people's egos. Most disagreements or differences of opinion are ego-based. Sometimes it has even been my own ego.

How would you describe your sound and style?

I'm definitely on the pop side of things. I like crystal clear vocals in your face, hard-hitting drums, and a powerful low-end.

What are some of your goals this year?

The main thing I'd like to do this year is to release all the songs we've been writing and producing for The Norm with proper visuals to go along with them. I would also like to do more work with major labels. Whether it's recording, mixing, or production. I feel like I'm at that level, but I just need a few more relationships to help elevate me.

Who are the top 3 artists, producers, engineers, videographers, or others you would want to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?

The top 3 producers I would want to work with would be Mike Dean, Timbaland, and Pharrell. Mainly because I feel like I would learn a lot from them and ultimately help me out in the long run

What is your creative process like?

It depends on whether I'm writing, producing, recording, or mixing. I typically like to write alone or with one or two other people. The same thing goes for producing. Recording can be really fun and inspiring when you're in a room full of talented people. However, I typically like to mix alone.

What’s your favorite go-to order?

10 wings hot with the lemon pepper sprinkle. Atl has really rubbed off on me lol.