Ryan McMahon was born in 1979 in Chemainus, BC. The only child of a longshoreman and a future educator, Ryan began entertaining early. The circles of aunts, uncles and grandparents were tickled by his early renditions of the theme song from Davy Crocket: King of the Wild Frontier. The same relatives were not so thrilled by his discoveries and emulations of the early stage stylings of Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor. Whether the attention he received was positive or negative, it was during these early days that hooked Ryan into evoking emotion from those around him.
Fast approaching his forties (any day now), Ryan has carved out an almost 20-year career as an independent artist in Canada’s vibrant music scene. He’s always been a genre fence sitter, hanging out on the edges of country just enough to say he isn’t; Ryan is both a whisper and a scream.
“Ryan sings to anyone and everyone who has ever got drunk, smoked, cried, loved or been loved,” says producer Andre Wahl (Hawksley Workman, Luke Doucet).
Ryan’s life goal has always been to craft songs that speak to the human condition.
“I didn’t know who I was until I found music. I found that the person I was becoming in my songs was far more confident and self-assured than I was myself. Writing songs was my way of relating to people on a broader scale than I could otherwise.”
Over the course of his career, Ryan has toured Canada countless times, released five full-length albums, and seen his music licensed nationally and abroad. He has shared the stage with an extremely wide-variety of artists, ranging from Lisa Loeb and Buffy Ste. Marie to Nickelback and Mother Mother.
He’s had the honour of participating in:
- the Western Canadian Music Awards
- Tonder Festival (Denmark)
- Canadian Music Week
- Music West
- Americana Fest (Nashville)
- Folk Alliance International (Kansas City)
- Various other notable Canadian music gatherings
In 2012, Ryan snagged 3 awards (out of 5 nominations) at the Vancouver Island Music Awards (Male Vocalist, Record and Artist of the Year)!
Lion Bear Fox
In 2012, Ryan co-founded Lion Bear Fox with song-writing colleagues Cory Woodward and Christopher Arruda, and the band was immediately named as one of the Top 20 Finalists for the 2013 Peak Performance Project in Vancouver.
The opportunity gave Ryan and his band mates the chance to shine light towards their charity, the BandWagon Project (mobile recording studios that visit various lower mainland care facilities), which was inspired by Megan McNeil and The Will To Survive Campaign that Ryan was deeply involved in helping take shape.
Getting some Exposure
In April of 2014, Showtime’s original series, “Californication” featured the single “I’ll Be Damned,” a song that was included on “Put Me Back Together,” which came out April of 2015. On September 8th, 2017, Ryan released a home-recorded EP titled “Song Shelter Recordings,” created entirely at his home studio in Ladysmith, British Columbia.
2019 and Beyond
In January 2019, Ryan will release “In Line For a Smile,” which was co-produced with Zak Cohen at Woodshop Recording Studios in Duncan, BC.
“In Zak, I’ve found the Jorge Calderon to my Warren Zevon,” says Ryan. “I’ve worked hard to create a record that really spotlights all aspects of my personality, and I think that when I look back on a lifetime in music, this album will really stand out as a high water mark for me. I’m extremely proud of it, and I can’t wait for it to reach not only my small fan base, but new ears as well.”
Legendary Canadian TV/Radio personality Terry David Mulligan may have summed up Ryan best:
“The complete package. Singer. Songwriter. Performer. Troublemaker. Passionate human being. For me… priceless.”