Carmel baseball player Meriel produces after all
A baseball player seeks a hit.
Just one hit will no doubt suffice for Carmel Catholic's Ryne Meriel.
There is no high school baseball season this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with his recently released pop song "After It's Over" receiving early praise, the senior's success as a music producer might just be getting started.
Not that he's ever looking to hit a home run when he tinkers with what he calls his "passionate hobby." Hits are hard to come by. Ask a baseball player. Ask a musician.
"When you make a song, you shouldn't be aiming to blow up, because most likely you're not going to," Meriel said. "With all of my songs, I have low expectations."
Known as "Ryno" by family and friends -- yes, he was named after Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and, yes, he's a Cubs fan -- Meriel started DJing when he was in sixth grade. His dad and uncle used to be DJs, and Meriel's dad had a turntable in the basement. Meriel started spinning and mixing, and was hooked. He landed his first gig when his grade school (St. Gilbert) asked him to DJ a dance in eighth grade.
The Lindenhurst resident says he became known as "The DJ" in high school. He remembers receiving the popular FL Studio, a digital audio workstation, as a birthday present one year.
"Not knowing any music theory or anything, I was just fooling around with it, trying to make sense of what music sounds good together," Meriel said. "I remember one day I had an epiphany. I made my first song, I released it (on SoundCloud), and I got good reviews."
He started working on "After It's Over" last November. He collaborated with a professional songwriter, sharing ideas with her, and arranged the acoustic guitar-heavy instrumental, deriving it from a sample that he got off a producer's sample website.
"I knew that I wanted the song to be about graduation, but because that topic is so broad, we had to narrow it down," Meriel said. "We started off with discussing the ideas for the title of the song. I pitched the idea, 'Day by Day,' and we follow the theme of how little time we actually have left before we (seniors) walk across the stage."
When Meriel read "After It's Over," which features Canadian Ramita Arora on vocals, he knew it was the next song he wanted to release.
"First impressions are everything, even in a song title," he said. "After we finalized that idea, we wanted it to be a remembrance type of song of nostalgia, thinking back to the last four years of our lives as seniors, from beginning to end. She sent back the first draft of the lyrics, and I made a few tweaks in terms of melody. I heard the demo vocals after the tweaks, and I knew that's exactly how I wanted it to sound like. We had something."
Timing is something.
With the pandemic spoiling the final semester of high school for Meriel and his classmates and seniors everywhere, "After It's Over" could remain popular for a long time. Maybe someone will request it the next time Meriel DJs.
It's the third song he's released on a platform.
"Obviously no one had any idea about the pandemic being this hard-hitting," said Meriel, a catcher/middle infielder who plans to play Division-II baseball and study aviation at Lewis University. "It hit me pretty hard. It hit a lot of people pretty hard. But I thought I might as well focus this anger and confusion into the song."
Since the release of "After It's Over" on May 15, Meriel has been receiving "walk-off hit" attention, or close to it. It touched a Carmel teacher whom he never had. The teacher's words floored Meriel, considering he thought maybe only his friends and schoolmates would enjoy it.
"My Spotify views spiked up. My SoundCloud listens spiked up," said Meriel, whose song is available on all digital music channels. "I was like, 'Wow, this is a lot better than my other songs have been doing.' It's a shocker."
Voted a team captain for Carmel's Corsairs, Meriel, if nothing else, has shown he can be an impact player even without a catcher's mitt and bat.
"At first, I really didn't have any big intention with the song," he said. "As with my other songs, it was mainly just for friends and family. But then I realized I could actually make it really meaningful and put some graduation sentimentality into it."
Good call, Catcher.