Ryan Star’s latest single was a complete surprise. Even to him.
The singer-songwriter from Dix Hills, best known for hits like “Breathe” and “Start a Fire,” was focusing on the launch of his new tech startup Stationhead, an app and platform that lets users host their own radio stations, powered by music from streaming services, and listen to other stations.
However, “Don’t Give Up” (Niklas Rune) couldn’t wait.
“I wrote it when I was in Sweden and I was going through a really tough time,” says Star, sitting on the roof of Stationhead’s Manhattan office. “I was away from my family. . . . I wasn’t feeling well.”
Takida keyboardist and producer Chris Rehn had heard the song Star was working on and begged him to finish it. “He told me, ‘I want to make that song. I got the chills all over. You have to write that song,’ ” Star recalls, adding that he had struggled with the song for years. “I wrote about the most devastating thing I’ve been through — my wife was sick and we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The result was a raw, wrenching ballad that was also inspirational as Star sings, “Don’t give up, we all need saving. Just one more breath, just one more night, we’ll all be waiting here. Don’t give up.”
Rehn produced the song and released it in Sweden and later worldwide, while Star focused on Stationhead. “I didn’t even know the song was released,” he says. “I was busy.”
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Soon, “Don’t Give Up” was playing on Swedish radio stations and he returned to play it on a Swedish TV show. It was then added to SiriusXM stations and Star’s fans began to notice. “I was seeing the most emotional response to my music in years,” says Star, adding that he found fans’ own stories about the song moving. “Now, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, this is exciting.’ ”
Star says he wasn’t planning on working on music, but he recognizes the potential power of a song. “If it’s this song that touches people, then so be it,” he says. “People tell me, ‘We need this song right now.’ I understand that. I needed it too.”