Whaddup! Thanks for wandering over to my small corner of the internet. My name is Ryan Anderson, and I am a web developer in Ann Arbor, Michigan by day, and father/musician/cook/writer/documentary watcher by night. Over the last 20 or so years I have been involved in a variety of projects and have met so many amazing people across the US, Canada and Europe. If you are one of those people, your friendship means a lot to me, and if we haven’t spoke in awhile please drop me a line.
Music is my lifeblood. I listen to all kinds of music every day, and sometimes even create it. I can trace the genesis of my love of making music back to a Casio keyboard my parents got me for Christmas one year. From there I moved on to bass guitar, mainly because that was what was needed a band we were putting together, and I seemed to enjoy it. The first band I was in, around 8th/9th grade, was called Chain Reaction, then Jagged Edge, then Mental Phases – consisting of (at various incarnations): Jamie Ratliff, Don Strawsine, Mitch Range, John Hardin. We played some parties and even did a performance on a local community cable TV show.
After high school, I met up with a former classmate and drummer Rob Moon, who had pieced together some musician friends into a band called King Friday – playing mostly grunge and cover songs, around 1991/92. Although we played quite a few shows around Detroit, internal personal tensions caused the band to split, and I moved on to another band in mid-1992, after responding to a “want ad” posted at Dearborn Music looking for a bass player. This band, which started off a Charon and eventually known as Asha Vida, introduced me to a lot of friends and music (shoegaze, dreampop) that would influence me for many years to come. In May of 1993 we released our first record, the “Eskimo Summer” seven-inch, that would foster my love for making and releasing records as well as promoting them. Due to my time spent at school in Manchester, England and other time away from the band (included a stint playing drums with Gravity Wax), I was let go in mid-1994 following a personal month-long trip to Europe. By that time, though, it was fine with me.
Around Labor Day 1994, I was part of a jam session that was eventually released as “Moog Monday”, with musicians Carl Hultgren & Windy Weber (Windy & Carl), Randall Nieman and Darryl Strasser. From that session, and due to the fact that I was band-less at the time, Randall & I started making music – a lot of music actually. By November or so we had almost 90 minutes of songs recorded, and with the help of Erik Kassab (one of my all-time favorite friends) of Gravity Wax, we mixed them down to DAT tape and began circulating hand-made cassette tapes around Detroit. We had become Füxa.
After recording more music over the winter 1994/95, and into spring, we were ready to release our first record – the Fuxa/Gravity Wax split seven-inch on Burnt Hair/Mind Expansion. Now, you’ll notice a lot of collaboration in that last sentence – and understand that this was a joint effort among many people to put out a truly indie release. It was funded by Larry Hofmann (of Burnt Hair) and Randall Nieman (Fuxa/Mind Expansion) literally on a shoestring budget. Covers were printed/copied at the local Kinko’s a hundred at a time – each one hand colored and numbered, for a total release of 500 singles. It was very exciting to be releasing our own records!
That single garnered us some praise at the local record store (Play It Again Records in Royal Oak), and sold quite a few copies. Things really took off in July 1995 with the release of the “Free Your Soul” EP which included the song “Photon”. It was with the record, and that song in particular, that eventually led us to England, playing shows around London. Following a trip to Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend 1995, meeting up with the band Flowchart, I ended up starting my own record label Astro Lanes – that up to that point had been a vinyl mail-order operation. The label lasted for only 3 singles, first of which was the Fuxa/Flowchart seven-inch.
In early 1996, we were offered a record contract from Che Records in England, to put out our first 3 singles on CD and 12-inch vinyl. This included the aforementioned trip to London, where I met so many incredible people, and was definitely a highlight of my life until that point. Throughout late-1995 to mid-1996, Randall & I recorded a ton of songs on a 1963 Hammond organ we had at our house (dubbed “Camp Fuxa”), that were released as “Very Well Organized” in late 1996, also on Che Records.
1997 saw the release of more singles, and the classic Venoy EP on Darla Records. That year also saw many shows in various cities around the east coast and up to Toronto, where I would end up meeting my first wife (but that’s a whole other story). That year also saw the publication of the first issue of Masstransfer magazine, which was the evolution of the Astro Lanes mail-order and record label. By late 1998, the lease on the Camp Fuxa house was up, and I was ready to move on to other things, and left the band. Randall ended up moving to England for awhile and released “In-Flight Audio”, a concept record we had developed while flying the London in 1996.
During this period – 1999/2000, I was recording under the name Urbandesign, and released a 12-inch along with some compilation appearances. With Erik Kassab, we recorded some tracks as The Amethyst Room, which were released on some compilations. My primary focus at the time was the Masstransfer zine (more about that at another time).
My last attempt at joining a band was in 2001, playing drums for the Delta Waves, consisting of an old school-mate Greg Naumann and bassist Anton Abramov (who ended up becoming one of my best friends). That lasted until about 2003, when the band eventually split apart.
Randall Nieman & I had gotten back in touch around that time, and had always talked about getting back together and playing music. That idea came to fruition in 2011 when we played our first show together since 1998, in Detroit. Later in 2011, we did a 3-show mini-tour of the east coast, playing in Philadelphia (with Asteroid #4); Washington, DC; and New York City (with Landing). Fatherhood finally caught up with me in August 2012, which put an end to playing shows for awhile.
My love of developing for web started in late 1996, when I met a guy named James Rodriguez when Fuxa opened up for Stereolab at Detroit’s St. Andrew’s Hall. He was a web designer, and offered to help put together a Fuxa website. I ended up getting a computer in 1997 and picked up on web design. The next year saw me developing a Masstransfer website with James’ help, and from there I learned PERL and eventually PHP.
At work around this time I was learning VBscript and “classic” ASP, which led me to a job at Ford Motor Company developing a diagnostic prototype based on Visual Basic and ASP. Working with a knowledgeable PhD, John Cardillo, I learned a lot about programming and picked up technologies like SVG, XML and later C# & .NET.
Web development is a great field to be in – it’s always changing and new trends constantly emerging. For a person who loves to learn new things, I couldn’t think of a better profession.
In 2004, while still employed at Ford, it was clear that the Michigan economy wasn’t doing very well. A few fellow co-workers began talking about ways to help businesses survive the downturn, and one idea was to have a website that featured Michigan-made products and local companies. I bought the domain BuyMichiganProducts.com, and with some PHP skills put together the website, which launched in October 2004. By January 2005 the site was featured in the Detroit Free Press, and popularity of the site took off. Around the same time, my grandmother passed away and left a small inheritance that allowed me to focus on the site full-time. In November 2005 I organized our first Buy Michigan Expo, where 25 Michigan vendors assembled in a hotel conference room in Lansing to promote and sell their products. The Expo exposed the site to many new friends and connections, especially within state government and Michigan State University. Our second event, the Made In Michigan Festival was held in May 2006 with the help of the folks at MSU and the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture. The website continued to grow, and in May 2009 we held our third Expo event in Livonia. Changes in my life since then have caused me to not have as much time as I would to spend on the site, and though it is still on-line, it hasn’t been actively update in awhile. The birth of my daughter means I will likely not have time to spend on it for the foreseeable future.
In 2008, I met my wonderful wife Kristen and we got married in 2010. Shortly after, we bought a home in Ann Arbor, Michigan where we currently reside. I am working as a Senior Web Developer at a local start-up, which is close enough for me to walk or bike to work. In addition I am playing drums with a guy I work with who plays guitar, and conveniently enough we have our instruments in an office at work where we jam. With the birth of my daughter, I feel I have moved on to an entirely new phase of my life, and couldn’t be happier!