It’s been over ten years since professional musician and Keene State College (KSC) graduate Ryan LaPerle left the college with his degree in communications and an unfinished music minor, but that unfinshed minor and his passion for music laid the groundwork for what would be a full-time career as a pop musician.
LaPerle, who said he began playing the guitar at age twelve and credits musicians like John Mayer, Hozier and Andrew Belle as some of his musical influences, came to KSC with no immediate intentions of pursuing music, but played at local parties and gigs to entertain his friends and work on his performance prowess. Childhood friend and fellow KSC alum Roy Jones said that LaPerle would perform whenever he got a chance.
“As a musician, you couldn’t stop him from playing. He was always playing the guitar every chance he could get. At parties and wherever we were at, he was always kind of the entertainer I should say,” Jones said. “Everyone loved listening to him to play.”
LaPerle said he also wrote his own music in his cramped off-campus bedroom in a Bruder Street house he stayed in with some of his friends. He said that many of those songs would be critiqued by KSC music professor Ted Mann. Mann said he would suggest different chords and lyrics for LaPerle’s songs to make them stand out more.
After graduating a couple classes short of completing his music minor in 2005, LaPerle said he traveled the country for a little over a year, selling medical equipment, before returning to school at Boston University to study audio production in 2007. He later released a studio album in 2009 which contained two songs written during his time at KSC which made it onto the record- Eyes and Where The Warmth is. The first of which he said he wrote in that small bedroom just off-campus on Bruder St. while attending KSC.
“I remember just being really proud of it and being like ‘Wow this is the first acoustic pop song I’ve ever written,’” LaPerle said as he recalled when he first wrote the song.
Since then, the Boston-based musician has toured at colleges and other venues around the country, making a living playing music. Since his years at KSC, LaPerle said he still loves performing even with the extra burden of making a living off of it. He said that is because he remembers that his desire to play goes beyond necessity.
“I think for me, the biggest thing from Keene to now is learning to not to lose your passion in what you do or at least the foundation of why you’re doing something,” LaPerle said.
LaPerle has made a couple of trips back to the KSC, most recently during an open-mic night in February.
“It was cool being back because I used to play the open mic back in the day and I remembered for me as a musician on campus going to Keene, that was the big thing because you were able to play two or three songs,” LaPerle said. “You had your peers there [so] you wanted to do something that was new that was going to be great, be it an original [or] be it a cover and it was always nice. To have that culture and to have those people and that exposure around you, it was great. It was, I think for me, a growth period to be where I am today.”
According to Jones, who has seen him play live since LaPerle first started, said that his friend is still getting better and building on his skills.
“The dude improves yearly,” Jones said. “He just has a passion for it. That guy, he just needs a guitar in his hands.”
LaPerle said that he is currently writing and working on original songs and covers that he hopes to be released this summer. He said he wants to keep improving as musician and continue touring. For those who wish to make a living as a musician, LaPerle had some simple advice.
“Don’t get in your way and just do it.”
Jacob Barrett can be contacted at email@example.com