Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

TRNSMT: Singer / songwriter Ryan McMullan on upcoming documentary charting his independent success

© Ciara McMullanRyan McMullan
Ryan McMullan

Releasing a debut album was meant to be the final scene in an upcoming documentary centred around Northern Irish singer/songwriter Ryan McMullan. But then Covid hit.

Fortunately though, it just means that there’s plenty of opportunity for a sequel.

Ryan McMullan: DEBUT charts the story so far for the 31-year-old from Portaferry, County Down, who has played sell-out shows across the continent and shared stages with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol.

“It’s pretty surreal and very flattering to have people follow you for five years and create a documentary about your journey,” he said.

“The earliest footage is from 2015 and I totally forgot about it. We were in Nashville and there’s this scene with two of my friends, we’re in the pool on the GoPro and we fall in. I totally forgot about it.

“It’s hard to watch yourself for an hour-and-a-half! The whole end point of the documentary was originally going to be releasing the album.

“The album had to take a step back due to Covid and we had to change the ending to well, we were about to do that… It’s kind of weird to have an ending which shouldn’t have been the ending but it actually perfectly sets us up for documentary two!”

Ryan McMullan on stage at TRNSMT
Ryan McMullan on stage at TRNSMT (Pic: Ciara McMullan)

Ahead of the film’s release, he headed for Glasgow to play TRNSMT’s King Tut’s stage.

With live shows and a song, EP and documentary released, McMullan reckons it finally feels like he’s back on track.

“In lockdown I tried my hand at cooking, at video, at anything just to get through,” he said. “Thankfully we’re now on the other side of it, touch wood.

“For so long it also felt like a lockdown of the mind, I couldn’t be creative, I felt very restricted in life which led to being restricted in creativity.

“I hit a real low point, and as soon as I hit that, I wrote about seven songs in five days, all of them pretty much made the album which is coming out next year.

“It was strange to not write for eight months and then write seven songs in five days, all of which I really connected with.”

A proudly independent artist, McMullan isn’t signed to a label. Unlike many other artists, he has full control over the work he puts out and very much plays to his own tune.

But has turning down approaches from record companies lost him the chance to make even more of a breakthrough?

“It’s a compromise,” he admitted. “You get to keep your art and your vision, but you maybe don’t get the opportunities that they can supply. But also, do you really want it? It’s really your choice to figure out what you want.

“I’m so content with being able to keep control of everything. Who knows what the future holds, but for now I’m so happy with the trajectory we’re going on. There was a time I considered going down another route but then I grew up a bit and thought no, actually, I don’t want that.

“I don’t want to dye my hair blonde and wear clothes I don’t want to wear! It’s a bit of compromise but it’s already going so well so let’s just keep it going.”

Ryan on stage at TRNSMT
Ryan on stage at TRNSMT (Pic: Ciara McMullan)

The move certainly seems to be paying off so far, and McMullan played the King Tut’s stage to a packed crowd, leaving the set delighted with the response.

He performs using in ear monitors, but couldn’t resist popping them out to hear the roar of the audience.

“It was so good to be back in Glasgow and at full capacity, it’s been a long time,” he said. “The monitors kind of block everything out but then I kept pulling it out and they were singing… it was great.

“I love coming to Scotland, it’s kind of a home from home. Both King Tut’s gigs I’ve played were highlights of the tours. It’s so close to home, Belfast and Glasgow particularly are like sister cities almost.”

McMullan returns to Scotland when he kicks off his tour next week. He’ll play at The Caves in Edinburgh on September 27 and then Glasgow’s St Luke’s the next night.

“Fingers crossed life agrees with us and we get to do the tour that we’re dying to get at,” he said.

“Our band at TRNSMT was two members short because of Covid so it’s a strange time, but luckily they’ll be back for the tour.

“It makes you think. The last time we toured that wasn’t a pressure, you could do what you wanted and we took it for granted.

“Now you realise how much of a privilege this job is and I’m very excited for the tour.”