Five years ago, when Australian indie-rock duo Aimeé Nash and Scott Von Ryper left their native Sydney to move to Los Angeles, they had already amassed more years of musical experience between them than a number of bands combined. They had both been members of Australian psychedelic outfit the Morning After Girls, and later formed their own band, the Black Ryder, which toured Australia with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
When their debut record, Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride, was released in the U.S. in 2010, its ethereal, sultry and spacey guitar-driven songs were featured on the radio and television, scoring airplay on LA’s KCRW and some time on House. Almost immediately upon moving stateside, the Black Ryder toured the U.S. with the Cult (Nash is now married to singer Ian Astbury). The endorsement of some big-name admirers — including Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead — hasn’t hurt either. But starting life over again in Los Angeles, despite Nash’s description of the city as “mystical,” was not always easy for the once-married pair. The Door Behind the Door, their sophomore effort and the one they’ll be playing live at the Mercury Lounge on March 10, reflects that course.
“It’s been a journey,” says Nash. “On a personal level, it was such a journey moving from our home country, leaving our family and friends and being here in L.A. and starting over in so many ways. It was a huge learning curve to even find ourselves in this present moment, the idea that you keep opening one door and there’s another one to keep moving through. Even just the most basic things when you are in a city you’re not familiar with, finding the things you take for granted about where you live, took a long time.”
Both Nash and Von Ryper are multi-instrumentalists who sing and co-write, and they’ve widened their scope on The Door Behind the Door. An atmospheric soundscape that feels timeless, celestial and dreamy with a purpose, The Door Behind the Door is a fitting sequel to their first record, while its differences demonstrate a newfound confidence to experiment. The inclusion of strings, gospel singers, and a vintage organ owned by Nash provide the ammunition for this eclectic new direction.
“We definitely wanted to do something very different, emotionally and from an instrumentation perspective,” says Von Ryper. “Something a little bit more haunting.”
“It feels like moving through something,” says Nash. “It starts dark and a little moody and hopefully, towards the end, there’s a feeling of healing or resolution or transcendence or catharsis or ascension.”
The Black Ryder’s output is best suited to being absorbed all at once, as both records’ songs align effortlessly. “We wanted it to have a certain flow,” Nash says of the more recent effort. “Looking at all the material, it made so much sense to place [the tracks in the] order that they are.”
“We definitely wanted to make an album that made sense from start to finish, not just ten songs that we like,” adds Von Ryper.
Self-professed control freaks, the pair released The Door Behind the Door on their own label, the Anti-Machine Machine. “It’s a game of trust when you give something you worked so hard on over to someone else to manage,” says Nash. “So rather than driving some other label crazy,” adds Von Ryper, “we decided to do our label ourselves and to engage the services of people who make sense. Having our own team who understand what we’re doing and who are really behind it makes a lot more sense to us.”
Having been recently added as support for the Jesus and Mary Chain’s North American tour, Nash says she’s overjoyed and looking forward to sharing the paradoxically hopeful melancholy of The Door Behind the Door. “I was very happy getting that news,” she gushes. “It was an exciting moment. I don’t like to get excited because I find that when you have expectations, you’re going to be disappointed. When we found out, it still felt dangerous to think about it.”
The Black Ryder play the Mercury Lounge with White Hills on March 10. Tickets are $15 and available here.
Follow the writer at @pamelachelin.