RyanDan grew up through B4-4 ex­pe­ri­ences

Regina Leader-Post - - Arts & Life - By MIKE DEVLIN Canwest News Ser­vice

Twin brothers Ryan and Dan Kowarsky have one of the more un­usual ca­reer tra­jec­to­ries in re­cent me­mory. The 28-year-old na­tives of Cincin­nati, who moved to Toronto at age one, are cer­ti­fi­able wiz­ened vet­er­ans of the mu­sic in­dus­try. They have toured, recorded and per­formed as RyanDan — the stage name of their new clas­sic pop-and opera-based project — as far away as Aus­tralia and Ger­many.

But it wasn’t long ago that the two were singing and danc­ing for hordes of scream­ing teens as boy band B4-4, a project that saw them per­form on stage with ev­ery­one from Brit­ney Spears to Des­tiny’s Child.

“It is very dif­fer­ent from what we were used to,” Dan said of the duo’s new popera project, which is styled af­ter the soar­ing, high-wire vo­cals of Josh Groban.

Dif­fer­ent — and con­sid­er­ably more re­ward­ing, Ryan added. “It was quite frus­trat­ing to us in the B4-4 days. We were play­ing to a lot younger au­di­ence and the fo­cus would be on our hair and our clothes. We had come from a very mu­si­cal fam­ily — my fa­ther is an opera singer and my older brother is an opera singer — so we grew up very fo­cused on vo­cals and or­ches­tra­tion. We weren’t happy do­ing pop mu­sic for young kids.”

Per­haps, deep down, they weren’t happy. But they were great sales­men: Teen girls across Canada loved B4-4 in 2000, which pushed sales of the trio’s self-ti­tled de­but past 200,000 units. They also earned a Juno Award nom­i­na­tion in 2001 for Best New Group.

Look­ing back on it, both Ryan and Dan seem a lit­tle em­bar­rassed about B4-4.

“But we don’t have any re­grets,” Dan said. “That whole ex­pe­ri­ence taught us ev­ery­thing, how to sing in the stu­dio, how to get on stage in front of peo­ple, how to do in­ter­views. It got us ready for what we are do­ing right now.”

Af­ter they pulled the plug on B4-4, the brothers took some time to re­think their op­tions. What they came up with was RyanDan, a project much closer to their hearts. “We ab­so­lutely needed to go through (B4-4) to get to where we are,” Ryan said.

No longer would they colour their hair or wear makeup — B4-4 paid great at­ten­tion to the vis­ages of Ryan, Dan and its third mem­ber, Ohad Ein­ben­der — nor would they dance in uni­son. The brothers wanted to sing the songs of their youth, from Frank Si­na­tra to Mario Lanza. The pair ar­ranged to show­case them­selves for record com­pa­nies. By the end, they said, four ma­jor la­bels were in­ter­ested.

RyanDan signed a con­tract with Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Clas­sics in the U.K. and recorded their self-ti­tled album in Eng­land at the stu­dio of Terry Brit­ten, a vet­eran pro­ducer who has worked with Tina Turner and Michael Jack­son.

They en­joyed over­seas suc­cess out of the gate, in Aus­tralia, Europe and Asia. “We’ve done a few shows here but this is our first full-out tour in Canada,” Ryan said.

The trek fea­tures 12 mu­si­cians who com­prise a choir and orches­tra. “It’s im­por­tant,” Dan said. “We want to put on a good show for the fans, so we re­ally wanted to go all out, es­pe­cially for this first tour.”

The live show is scaled down from the 62-piece orches­tra that graces RyanDan. Hear­ing an orches­tra of that size be­hind them was a rush, but it wasn’t the coolest part of the record­ing — at least for the brothers, who shared one co-writ­ing credit on RyanDan.

They were much more en­thu­si­as­tic about a cer­tain piece of equip­ment they were us­ing. “The mi­cro­phone that we recorded our en­tire album on was Frank Si­na­tra’s,” they ex­cit­edly said in uni­son.

Canwest

Twin brothers Ryan (left) and Dan Kowarsky of the duo RyanDan be­gin their Cana­dian tour in Mon­treal on June 19.

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