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Ghosts Push Ryan Flores into the Light

Musician, Poet and Performer Talks his Journey and What’s on the Horizon

In his studio, Ryan Flores sits in front of an altares de muertos — also known as an ofrendas.  Altars of the dead are best known for the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos on el primero de noviembre — the day after All Hallows’ Eve. In contrast to Halloween, however, Dia de los Muertos is much warmer and celebratory.

Flores pulls a photograph from his ofrenda and talks about a late-musician who he met on a backdoor cigarette break. “We started writing right away,” says Flores. “It was a big blow to me, losing him. He was inspiring — such a peacock; so much personality. He told me you can’t half-ass music. Just be good.”

The multi-instrumentalist and singer then pulls out a Greek bouzouki guitar, but talks about his preference for guitars with nylon strings. “I’ve played electric and steel, but I always come back to nylon. Nylon is the most naked — it shows all your mistakes; there’s no protection.”

From the Bay Area and the child of a Mexican man and a Czech mother, Flores proudly claims “Czech-Mex.”

“Before Ryan discovered guitar, he was a natural performer,” says Flores’ sister, Kristin, a molecular biologist. “Ryan was so moved by music — he truly felt it. His passion shines on, and that energy transfers to audiences — his charisma is magnetic. Every night, my daughters — who are three and four years old — listen to a recording of their Uncle Ryan sing Amazing Grace at bedtime, and they are captivated by his voice. Ryan is exceptional. He’s, hands down, the most emotionally connected person I know.” 

Flores has lived in California, Missouri and over a decade in the Centennial State. He’s also spent time in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and has written songs in Cuba.

“I did a summer semester in Costa Rica, and have a degree in Latin American literature,” Flores says. “I traveled to study Cuban rhythms like the rumba and claves. The street kids in Cuba blew my mind. I went with musician Stefan Doucette and Nico Owen, a drummer who has contributed to ODESZA.”

Doucette, a Colorado Springs native and musician, has played and recorded Latin music with Flores for years. “Ryan is both a technical and passionate musician — his blend of traditional and modern Latin rhythms, lyrics and instrumentation consistently deliver fun and engaging performances wherever he plays,” Doucette says.

Flores confesses to not picking up guitar until 21 years of age, but now plays drums, bass and piano, in addition to focusing on guitar and vocal performance — and he’s been a part of various musical projects. Flores has performed various venues all over the Springs and Colorado.

“He’s the hardest working musician in Colorado Springs,” said Russ Ware, managing partner for The Wild Goose Meeting House, Good Neighbors Meeting House and now Epiphany. “Ryan’s artistry and relentless passion is unrivaled, and he radiates a tremendous love. One of the most remarkable things about a Ryan Flores’ performance is the energy he brings from the first note to the last. He’s a musical freak of nature, in the most beautiful way.”

Currently, Flores is working on a trilogy of instrumental albums that he describes as a triptych about Latin America and Spanish conquistadors each titled Caravana, Coyote and Mestizaje. Additionally, he’s working on a Latin-infused electronica project called Ryancito.

Flores ends his conversation with Colorado Springs Lifestyle reciting lyrics of a poem he wrote:

Music is our ghost dance, our communion,
a sanctuary in which we’re all kneeling to kiss the ground,
a temple in which we’re all praying for a miracle.

Music is our echolocation a ping bouncing around in the dark,
singing, “I’m here, can you hear me?”

Facebook: @ryanfloresband
Instagram: @ryanaflores