RYL0 and Robel Hit the Ground Running With “On the Run”

Get ready to hit the road because LA-based artists RYL0 and Robel Ketema are taking you on the run with them. Their first collaboration is a sonically unique and ultra-online dive into video game worlds. I chatted with RYL0 via email about her inspirations for the song, and how her friendship with Robel came to be.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Graphic by Zoe Axelrod
Photo by Saul Singleton

Ringtone Magazine: How did you and Robel connect and decide to collaborate?

RYL0: I actually met both Robel and Cary at the same time via Umru and Frax! Cary and Robel live together in LA, but Umru and Frax were in town for a few shows in October (Search Party 2 and the Heav3n Halloween show). Originally the plan was to link up with Umru, Frax, That Kid, Peytie and Noah (my manager) for all-you-can-eat sushi, but Umru asked if Cary and Robel could come through too!

How did Cary Singer become involved in the project?

Literally, Noah was just like: “You two should collab soon,” while we were all hanging out for the first time and me and Cary were immediately down. I really only knew his production credits through the songs he’s worked on with Robel, but the first time we had a session, Robel wasn’t even there. We made two songs in the first session (both of which will be on the upcoming project BTW), and then we made “On the Run” in the second session when Robel was around. We probably made it a couple of weeks after we met.

What were the main inspirations for this song?

The opening line of the song is directly inspired by Frax. When they were in town, they just kept saying how much everything in the city looked just like GTA. I think it was their first time in LA too, which makes it even funnier.

Most of the other inspirations are visual references, The Matrix being a prominent one that we also mention in the song. I was also really inspired by the imagery of ToonTown Online. It was one of my favorite games growing up and as the lyrics were coming together my brain instantly jumped in that direction… ToonTown is lowkey a very anti-capitalistic game, but it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. I really wanted to lean into the silly, cartoon aesthetics of the game because the song kinda has a similar perspective. We were throwing out ideas of The Matrix and video games in general, so staying in the sonic realm of GTA and ToonTown were the main guidelines.

What can we expect from this new RYL0 era and the new year?

Without giving too much away, this new era is very much a completely new side of myself and my sound. Conventionally, it’s still very much hyperpop, but it definitely won’t be as bubblegum. The next project is another mixtape… it’s kind of the exact opposite of what I was going for with the first one, while also totally expanding the world I’m trying to build with my discography.

I’m super excited because the main goal of this whole mixtape era was to expand my circle of collaborators and make more friends in music. That can definitely be seen and heard on both mixtapes, but the collabs are definitely different coming up.

In terms of the new year, I’m focusing on finishing up this next project… After that, I’m not really sure yet, but it’ll probably be something crazy.

Stream "On the Run" and follow RYL0 and Robel on Twitter!

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