In the never ending quest Royal & the Serpent releases new EP “Happiness is an Inside Job”

Happiness is an Inside Job Cover Art

Royal & the Serpent is the solo project of singer/songwriter Ryan Santiago. The name is a representation of Ryan (Royal) and her ego (the Serpent). Originally from New Jersey, Ryan moved to LA at age 18 and quickly found her way into the music industry. She released her first single in 2017 and has been releasing a steady stream of music ever since. 

“If you like them (my projects), if they mean something to you. Share them with your friends. Blast them in the car. Have a good cry.”

Ryan Santiago (Royal & the Serpent)

After publishing a string of singles and accompanying music videos leading up to release day, Royal & the Serpent’s “Happiness is an Inside Job” was fully released on 28 October, 2022. The EP details Ryan’s struggles with depression and feeling lost in the modern world. Thematically Ryan has said that this EP is a representation of her journey to find happiness. Sonically she has gone in a heavier direction. “The stuff I’m putting out now is pretty much rock, which makes me really happy.” Let’s have a listen as she takes us through some of her darkest moments to a brighter future on the other side. 

IM FINE” kicks off the EP with a haunting synth intro that vibes like halloween squeezed into a toy keyboard. As the song opens up we hear the rock meets hyperpop inspired instrumentals with layers of distortion. The vocal performance ranges from soft passages to Ryan repeatedly screaming “I’m fine!” The accompanying music video centers around our singer in a tiny room. The claustrophobic setting reinforces the idea of being stuck in one’s head.

Fell in love but I feel like shit

Still a cunt and still a bitch

Thought that things would be different

That it’d fix me but that was ignorant

The production on “Death of Me” introduces a whole new feeling to the EP. It could be described as Owl City joins an electronic-hyperpop-rock band with a metal drummer. Ryan has a lot to say about depression and the toxic side effects of the internet on this track. But not everything is without hope and we hear some words of encouragement through the verses. Ryan continues her journey in the music video featuring her looking introspectively at herself as she begins to realize the truth of the world around her. 

Half the people you meet won’t even remember your name

So stop overthinking

Be the person you always dreamed of

Love Abuser (Save Me)” brings the heady themes of the previous track back down to earth. The production could be summed up as a modern take on The Cranberries combined with Ryan’s powerful vocal delivery. The drums and guitars hit hard for the duration of the song. Thematically this is a love song at its core. The music video shows Ryan finally getting up and rocking out. 

You’re the king of the world

I’m a moth to your flame

I would kill to be yours

Do you love me the same?

Is the pathway to happiness in a book? The rock anthem “Happiness 4 Dummies” is Ryan venting her frustrations with trying to be happy but seemingly making no progress. “Someone teach me how to love me. I need happiness for dummies.” In the music video she isn’t stuck inside her head anymore but the posture of being stuck in a small room is repeated.

Where’s my reference for self-acceptance?

It’s not supposed to be this hard

Does anyone know where to start?

The final entry in Ryan’s journey to happiness “No Regrets” is a straight up banger. The vocals start out laid back and gradually bloom into a high energy delivery that throws the track forward into what sounds like an impending car crash. Ryan shows off some of her stage moves in the music video as she takes her throne on top of tv screens tuned into static.

Don’t know how much more I can take

I just know that I need to get better

Dom Author
Musician, Bass extraordinaire
Dom Author
Musician, Bass extraordinaire

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