You most likely know Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood star with his success in films like ‘Half Nelson,’ ‘Blue Valentine,’ ‘Drive,’ and ‘La La Land,’ but he is also a musician. Gosling started his music project, Dead Man’s Bones, back in 2005 with Zach Shields, even before he became well-known as an actor.
Surrounded by supernatural themes, the band’s self-titled debut album arrived in 2009. However, the recording process of the record was challenging for the Oscar-nominated actor, as he thought his natural singing had old-school quality and wasn’t modern enough. Speaking to Pitchfork in 2009, he said the following about his vocal style:
“I was always embarrassed because I sang like that, so I always tried to make my voice sound more contemporary.”
Although Shields encouraged Gosling to sing in his natural style, some in the studio dismissed the idea as ‘goofy’ or ‘silly.’ So, in response to these pressures, the duo decided to embrace a lo-fi aesthetic, as Ryan explained in the rest of his interview:
“There was always some kind of function on the computer, a filter that would assimilate the thing that you wanted, and we didn’t understand why you couldn’t just record the thing that you wanted. Like, why you had to do the computerized version of it, why can’t you just record it?”
The actor continued, further sharing his thoughts on the production part of recording music:
“It’s more fun that way anyway because you have to design a way to get that sound. For instance, if you want something to sound like it was on a PA system after a wedding and there’s a few people dancing, why not just create that situation and record that?”
Upon meeting in 2005, Gosling and Shields discovered their shared passion for Disneyland’s iconic Haunted Mansion ride. It inspired them to create love stories centered around ghosts and monsters, later turning them into a musical project.
For the album, they learned to play all the instruments themselves. Gosling contributed his vocals and played piano, guitar, bass guitar, and cello. In 2009, the duo had a three-night performance in LA with neon skeletons and ghosts. They also went on a tour across North America in the same year.