Born Ryan Frank Cabrera on July 18, 1982, in Dallas, TX. Addresses: Record company--Atlantic Records, 1290 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10104. Website--Ryan Cabrera Official Website: http://www.ryancabrera.com.
Before the release of Ryan Cabrera's third album, You Stand Watching, the young singer was mostly known for two things: being Ashlee Simpson's ex-boyfriend and his hair. Managed by Ashlee's father Joe Simpson, Cabrera's career may have gotten a boost because of his connection to the Simpson mega-marketing machine, but throughout the years, the Texas native has proved that he is a strong songwriter in his own right when he chose to write and self-produce his 2005 album You Stand Watching.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Cabrera, who is half Columbian, joined his first rock band (Caine) while still in high school. After graduation, he attended the University of Texas at Dallas for a year, where he traded the electric guitar for an acoustic and fronted the group Rubic's Groove. In the short time Cabrera was in Rubic's Groove, the band played shows with such acts as Cheap Trick, Third Eye Blind, and Ben Harper.
In 2001, Cabrera recorded and self-released his first solo album entitled Elm Street. The local success of his independent album caused Cabrera to focus on his solo material and eventually quit Rubic's Groove. The response to Elm Street was so positive that he signed a deal with Atlantic Records in the same year. Work soon began on what would be Cabrera's major label debut. He enlisted a team of songwriters to help pen the pop-rock ballads and called in Goo Goo Dolls' front man Johnny Rzeznik to co-produce the album.
In August of 2004, the album Take It All Away was released, debuting at number eight on Billboard's Top 200 album chart. The disc went gold a month after it was released. "...Cabrera proves himself to be more than just another pretty face with a lot of industry money behind him," wrote All Music Guide's James Christopher Monger. "He's got a great voice, a knack for incorporating Beatlesque key changes into otherwise mediocre melodies, and a healthy, irony-free take on angst that will earn him a raging sea of young women to wade through. ... He pines for loves both past and present like a deer on the highway faced with the field, the median, or the truck."
A video was shot for the single "On the Way Down," in which family friend Ashlee Simpson played his love interest. The filming of the video was caught on tape for Ashlee's MTV reality program The Ashlee Simpson Show. The resulting romantic relationship that evolved between the teenagers was also caught on film. To promote Take It All Away and his newfound crush-worthy status from appearing on The Ashlee Simpson Show, Cabrera took off on lengthy tours opening for Jewel and Jessica Simpson, among his own headlining dates. Ashlee and Cabrera also did a series of high school concerts together in October of 2004.
From 2004 to 2005, Cabrera and Ashlee's relationship was on and off again. And before he knew it, it was time to record and release another album. With teen magazines doting on his every single word and critics at their most caustic, Cabrera could have easily felt the stress of the dreaded sophomore jinx. "I didn't really feel any pressure in following up Take It All Away until people kept mentioning it," Cabrera said in his EMI biography. "'You know, the second record is the hardest one to do.' Hey, thanks a lot! But when I got to making the new album, I forgot about all that stuff and just tried to write and record the best songs I possibly could."
Cabrera's on-again off-again relationship with Simpson and the harsh glare of the spotlight spotlight took its toll on Cabrera but only fueled his songwriting process. "Just because I look a certain way, people think I'm pop crap. I want to prove that I'm not," he told Teen People. His new album would demonstrate that. "These songs are more grown-up. People know the relationships [I've had] on TV, but they don't know about the ones they haven't seen." By early 2005, Cabrera and Simpson finally called it quits on the relationship front.
Written in the spring, Cabrera booked time at El Dorado Studios in Los Angeles in June of 2005 to record his new album. He decided that this time he would produce the album entirely by himself. "It was just easier," he said in his bio. "Instead of someone else coming in and hearing my music, and then saying where they thought it should go, I was able to say, okay, this is where I think it should go. Plus, I loved producing the last record with John, but never really got the credit for it. This time I thought, 'I'm going to do it by myself and whatever happens, happens.'"
With help from various session musicians, many of whom played on Take It All Away, Cabrera and the players laid down tracks at the studio while Cabrera would often record his vocals at his home studio, whenever he felt like it. At one point he ended up with strep throat but decided to keep recording. "I actually got some of the coolest vocal takes on the record while I was sick," he said in his bio. All in all, it took a total of 21 days for the entire album to be recorded. "I didn't want to spend ten years producing a record," he continued. "I wanted the songs to be themselves, instead of worrying about all this crazy slickster production. I was interested in maintaining the dignity and the hearts of the songs, letting them breathe and become what they are."
In September 2005, Cabrera released his sophomore major-label album, You Stand Watching. The album's first single "Shine On," received praise from Billboard, who wrote, "The song has much going for it: crafty guitar work, lush harmonies and a vocal performance that glistens with confidence and fortitude." Cabrera once again appeared on a popular reality television show in the winter of 2005, when he signed on to host the new MTV show Score. In the dating reality show, Cabrera helped two wannabe songwriter/singers pen a song in order to win the affection of a member of the opposite sex. Cabrera's band would then perform with the contestant to play their newly written song. After a winning song was chosen, Cabrera would then switch from host to performer to play one of his own songs.
by Shannon McCarthy
Ryan Cabrera's Career
Played in rock group Caine in high school; self-released debut solo album Elm Street, 2001; signed with Atlantic Records; released Take It All Away, 2004; released You Stand Watching, 2005; hosted television show Score on MTV, 2005.
- Selected discography
- Elm Street self-released, 2001.
- Take It All Away Atlantic, 2004.
- You Stand Watching Atlantic, 2005.
- Billboard, September 3, 2005.
- Teen People, November 1, 2005, p. 54.
- "Take It All Away," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (February 1, 2006).
- EMI Official Biography, http://www.emimusicpub.com (February 1, 2006).