On life during quarantine, he said, “Overall, I’ve been great. Like most people, there have been some ups and downs with respect to being asked to alter the flow of my life dramatically. I’m an introvert by nature, so typically, I really appreciate and relish sovereign time in my own company. That said, about two weeks in, when the reality of what we were being asked to do set in, I was agitated by the thought of not being able to see friends for… who knew how long.”
“All of a sudden, I felt like much less of an introvert, and I was really missing people and human contact. Then, after a couple of weeks of that, I got over it, and I was back to being an introvert, content with my own company! As a fellow introverted friend of mine said, “I’ve been training my whole life for this!” Beyond that, I’ve had some extremely productive stints, and I’ve had some periods of time during which I just let myself be and took off the pressure to do anything at all. With respect to the productive periods, I’ve been able to work on a lot of music with Vanessa Silbermann, start building the bones of some new tracks, and play my drums at home with greater frequency than I get to when I’m in production. I’ve been working on developing a website that will be up and running within the next couple of months.”
“I’ve also taken this time to create a Patreon page that I’m really excited about,” he said. “I’m really interested in community-building these days, and I intend for my Patreon page to be a place to do just that. I’ll be sharing more intentionally and curating a place where folks can come have an exclusive, in-depth look into the other projects I’m working on. I’ll also be sharing exclusive behind-the-scenes content of me working on said projects, as well as never-before-released images, etc. I’m also going to get a chance to share some really unique, creative stuff via the perks that I’m offering.”
“I’m really looking forward to having fun with this project and sharing that fun with those who want to go along for the ride,” he said. “The quarantine has also been a fruitful time for me in terms of taking stock of my life. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting upon what works, what doesn’t, what I want to keep with me as I re-emerge back into life, and what I want to leave behind. I’ve looked at patterns that I want to let go of, that is no longer serving the life I want to live, and I’ve developed some new skills and disciplines that I intend to carry forward.”
He also opened up about being a part of the Acceleration film, he said, “It was fantastic. It’s a fun movie, and it’s gotten a nice response from audiences. There are some absolute legends in the cast. Natalie Burn, the female lead and producer of the film, is a friend of mine. Natalie and I have wanted to work together for a while. She called me late one night, and said, ‘Ryan, I have a part that I need you to do in the film I’m shooting.’ I think it’s an actor’s dream to hear that — to have a friend call and say flat-out, ‘I have a part for you. Come do it.’ But, of course, I wanted to read the script and look at the role and choose whether or not I thought that I could actually bring something to the role that would serve the film as a whole.”
“I think that’s always an important consideration,” he said. “It’s great to be offered a role. And… I always want to make sure that I’m saying yes for the right reasons. I don’t want to say yes to something that I have no business saying yes to, because ultimately that isn’t going to serve the bigger picture. The directors, Michael Merino and Daniel Zirilli were really great to work with, and we had a lot of fun. It was a relaxed environment on set, and so it was easy to drop into production and feel at ease and a part of the family.”
He praised Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) for being “incredible.” “They are literally helping to rescue victims of sex trafficking of all ages. I’ve been fortunate to get acquainted with this organization over the last year or so, and they really do phenomenal work. They not only seek out, locate, and rescue victims, but they also provide resources and training for full rehabilitation and help facilitate survivors’ re-entry into society,” he said.
Carnes continued, “Many who have survived trafficking experiences have lost years of their lives and as a result, may not know a trade or may not have any job skills that allow them to stand up on their own and take care of themselves. OUR directly aids in that process. Then, of course, there’s the mental, emotional, and psychological toll that survivors must reckon with. Again, OUR directly aids in providing them the support they need to recover and re-integrate into life above ground. Based on what I’ve seen and my experience with them, I just really can’t speak highly enough.”
For Carnes, it has also been a real gift to be a part of This Is About Humanity (TIAH). “There are a lot of organizations out there doing good work, and some claiming to do good work. However, it’s often hard to tell what work is actually being done, and/or where one’s money is going when they donate to such groups. I told Elsa Collins, one of the three incredible women who lead the organization (along with Zoe Winkler Reinis and Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade) that for me, one of the things that makes TIAH so wonderful is the opportunity to not only see exactly where the money is going but to also roll up my sleeves and take part,” he said.
He continued, “That’s something I can get behind because I got to see with my own eyes the very real, very visceral, very heartfelt impact TIAH’s contributions make — whether via sweat equity and human hours, or whether via monetary or physical donations that impact the affected families immediately. To see the looks of gratitude on the faces of the families, both parents, and children, is priceless. It’s pretty special to get to bear witness to the impact that our presence has on these families on the trips to Tijuana.”
“Some of them have lived through abominable situations that would take your breath away if you were to hear the survivors share them,” he explained. “It certainly did mine. They have seen and been faced with the absolute worst in humanity. And some of them have lost family members to vicious violence that’s committed against them. To have an avenue through which direct impact can be created, through which compassion, empathy, and kindness can pour directly into the lives of those who have been through harrowing experiences is, to me, uniquely powerful.”
“This is About Humanity is a uniquely powerful organization, he said. “For example, most recently, TIAH raised $130,000 for the first COVID matching grant they offered. They were able to give to 17 organizations to fund everything from mobile health clinics, rapid tests, help to their LGBTQ shelters, and more. For their second grant, they raised $150,000 to help purchase PPE for frontline responders as well as build a temporary hospital.”
He enjoys doing Zoom sessions for charitable purposes. “That has been so fun,” he admitted. “They’ve been going really well, and I think they’ve been a nice respite for us all, as we’ve been able to connect and share. I’ve had some really powerful one-on-one calls with people, wherein we’ve had the opportunity to get vulnerable with each other about some of the challenges we’ve faced recently and about the emotional impact of everything that has transpired in the last three months.”
Carnes elaborated, “The power of human connection is really something, and I feel grateful to have gotten to share some very tender moments with folks that I’ve talked to. We even got to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the father of one of the girls who was on the group call that I hosted a couple of weekends ago. It was spontaneous, and he had no idea we were going to do that. I had no idea we were going to do that. As soon as I found out it was his birthday, it was obvious to me that we had to sing to him! It would’ve been lame not to. So, we all broke into Happy Birthday and sang him into his 65th year. We’re really lucky to have such incredible technology that supports staying connected, even when we can’t all be in the same place. I’m already getting requests to do another group event, so stay tuned, and watch my social media for dates and details.”
On being a part of Brad Everett Young’s Dream Loud campaign, Carnes said, “It’s a real honor and privilege. Brad is a prolific creator and photographer, and just as good of a human. He’s got such heart for making the world a better place and helping ensure that kids who are growing up now have the same opportunities in the arts that we did when we were growing up. And it’s a really big problem.”
“Arts programs, as far as I’m aware, are often (even typically) the first programs and classes to get cut when budget constraints become an issue. So, to be able to take part in helping Brad inspire parents and school leaders to maintain such programs is very meaningful. I was in music classes and played in literally all the bands that my schools offered from elementary school through high school. That obviously played a very important role in steering me in the direction of the place in which I now find my life,” he said.
“My entire life is centered around art, and I have the luxury to be able to spend most of my time making art of some fashion,” he said. “If I hadn’t been able to explore my creativity and artistic side in my youth, would I have found what feels like my true calling in life, or would I have settled for something that didn’t really suit me, inspire me, and light me up — and most importantly, make me happy? I’ll never know, but I would say there’s a very good possibility that it would have been the latter. I’ve learned that life is too short to not do what one loves.”
“Brad and his campaign remind people of that fact and remind people that art plays a very crucial role in society as a whole. I believe (as does Brad) that everyone ought to be presented with at least the opportunity to be exposed to the arts, and then be able to decide if that life is a life that suits them and whether they want to dedicate their lives to it, as we and all others who’ve been involved in Dream Loud have done. It’s all about exposure and choice,” he said.
For his fans and supporters, Carnes concluded, “I would like to say a big, hearty thank you. Thank you for the unyielding support and love. I am also going to implore everyone to do whatever they can on a daily basis to choose love for themselves and others in their own lives. Love over fear… love over anything else, really. We have been living through, and are continuing to live through, a very difficult moment in time, and now more than ever, I believe it’s crucial that we all do whatever we can to find common ground with our brothers and sisters and neighbors, and to choose unity over division — period.”