[DURHAM]– Ryan Farinas, 22, and his band “BLANCO” performed at The Big Bean in Durham, New Hampshire (NH) two Saturdays ago. Farinas takes on the role of lead singer, Shane Jozitis on drums, Kai Dimuzio on bass, Matt Oriente on saxophone and Thomas Williams on guitar. Filling up the capacity of 70 people in a COVID-safe environment, his show was a hit to say the least. Hitting almost 30,000 streams on Spotify alone for his single “I Wanna Die in Hawaii” illuminates the talent Farinas exudes as a young and emerging artist.
The Durham star took this semester off to focus on his musical career and save money. His passion has deepened in this past year, but that doesn’t mean he fell in love with music just now. His mother, Bettina, released a popular song in the 80s called “Destiny” and it became one of the top 15 singles in the U.S. The combination of that and his father constantly playing an array of Bob Marley, John Legend, Eminem and many other melodic composers, helped Farinas develop a true love and appreciation for music. He didn’t consider music as a career until his junior year of high school.
Throughout the last three years attending the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Farinas was a member of the university’s acclaimed club, the Student Committee On Popular Entertainment (SCOPE). As a Recreation Management and Policy (RMP) major, Farinas found a lot of joy in the programming and event planning that was so closely tied with his work in SCOPE. If his music didn’t work out, the idea of running a venue, bar or club with a musical element didn’t seem like a bad idea. However, his consistent release of music and overall contentment with his current undertakings is something he would rather pursue right now.
His inspiration has been drawn from a few people. His high school English teacher, Mr. Mendelsen, ran the creative writing department and the music studio. “He was my mentor growing up. Probably the main reason I pursued music,” Farinas said. Farinas’ parents were never doubtful of his talent, however in their own endeavors and halts they experienced in the world of music, it made them worry for their son. Mr. Mendelsen was always encouraging Farinas to balance his dreams and reality. Farinas’ parents always stood as an inspiration as well. The musical exposure and support they gave Farinas his whole life is one of the many ways Farinas feels completely energized for his future. Artists like Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, Bob Marley, Chance the Rapper, Mac Miller, Odd Future and Tyler the Creator are definitely some key icons Farinas looks up to as well.
Farinas has only taken one voice lesson his entire life. Coached by one of Bettina’s best friends, Izzy Ortiz, he told Farinas, “The biggest thing is using your diaphragm [when you’re singing].” His generosity and helpful advice was something Farinas always took with him. Almost two weeks after Farinas’ freelanced lesson, Ortiz passed away unexpectedly due to complications with surgery and COVID-19. “The universe is just crazy. I was just talking to this dude and just learned so much from him. Sh*t changes super-fast,” Farinas said. According to Bettina, Ortiz was talking about Farinas the day before he passed, encouraging Farinas to never stop singing. Ortiz’s death stands as a motivational reminder of Farinas to never stop chasing his dreams.
Farinas has faced multiple obstacles to be where he is today on top of his family’s loss of Ortiz. Before he released his song, “Empty” in 2019, he lost 80% of his hair due to his struggle with alopecia. “I was fine, I was a pretty confident person, I didn’t care that I lost my hair, but I was just in a bad place; I was in a funk all sophomore and junior year of college. I just didn’t know what I was doing. I was just screwing up left and right,” Fainas said. Farinas wrote his song “Empty” to detail that experience, which he classified as “the lowest point in his life,” in addition to getting his heart broken. Not only was the song well-received, but Farinas also felt a lethargic relief and contentment. Music is the way Farinas copes with his problems and releases his emotions.
There is a lot to be said about putting your soul and heart into an outlet and releasing it to the world. “A lot of people have negative thoughts or are down on themselves or maybe don’t believe in themselves. I feel like something I learned recently that has helped me a lot is to kinda just laugh at myself,” Farinas said. Between nerve-wracking shows or any everyday negative thoughts, Farinas has figured out how to take a step back and practice mindfulness. “Thoughts are just thoughts. It doesn’t mean the actions you take are going to end up like that,” Farinas added.
A unique thing about Farina’s band is where the name originated from. “BLANCO” comes from Farina’s white, 2 year-old pit bull, Blanco. “My dog, shout out to him. He’s our mascot. He’s the GOAT, shoutout to him,” Farinas said. BLANCO will release an album titled “The Tie Dye Tape” in late April or early May. They’re currently mastering the music and marketing to produce their best content possible. As time goes on, Farinas just wants to produce genuine music and enjoy what he’s doing. In the meantime, he suggests everyone, ensuing music or not, to “just laugh at (yourselves).”
Follow Ryan Farinas on Instagram for more updates on his music: @ryan_farinas, or his band: @blancomusic_official. Also check out his Spotify to listen to his top hit, “Smilin’”: Farinas.
Photo Courtesy of Jackie Weik.