The Rural We: Ryder Cooley
Ryder Cooley is an inter-disciplinary artist, musician and performer based in Hudson, N.Y. She studied sculpture at RISD, has a combined media masters from SUNY Albany, and an MFA in integrated electronic art from RPI. Currently, she performs with Hazel, a disembodied (taxidermy) ram, and with her band Dust Bowl Faeries. The band is throwing a release party for its debut album at Club Helsinki on Sunday, March 6 at 8 p.m. The album was recorded by Bobby Previte and Tommy Stinson, and the band will be joined at Helsinki by a selection of guest musicians including Melora Creager, Pete Toigo and Luis Mojica.
My parents are both from the Syracuse, N.Y. area, but they moved to Michigan when I was a child and I grew up there. When they moved back to upstate N.Y. after they retired, I was living in San Francisco, but decided to come back east to be closer to them. I lived in Troy at first, and I’ve been in Hudson now for five years. As a family, we often traveled through Hudson, and I always thought the city looked unreal, like a movie set. I was intrigued by it; in the movie in my mind, as a child, I always lived here.
I’m a total animal lover; I sort of wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid and now I work with veterinarians at AnimalKind.
My main instrument is the accordion, but I also play the singing saw, and write songs on a ukulele. I co-host an open mic with Cameron Melville and my alter-ego, Hazel (the taxidermy ram who is part of the Faeries band), at Helsinki on Tuesday nights.
I usually describe the Dust Bowl Faeries music as gothic folk, with minor scales and lyrics that are a little bit morbid sometimes. There’s a song, “Hudson River Shanty,” on the album about Hudson’s past as a whaling city. It’s a make-believe song, but I feel like the city has a lingering residue from that former time, a seedy underbelly or dark past. There was a red light district here and factories. It’s not like one of the cute villages; it has a little bit more grit to it. The climax of the song is the ghost of a whale coming back to haunt the place.
Hudson has an enchanted feel to it, there are always interesting people, it has a music community, and a great radio station in WGXC. I like being on the river; the river feels special. It’s a city in the country, a place where you can hide out. There are so many stories here, told and untold.