Mainly, Ryan Foo is a human, living and breathing on planet Earth. But he’s the kind of human who draws other people together as an event producer, emcee, teacher, comedian and Illfoominati podcaster, and who, in his own words, is also a “guy who helped paint some trees blue downtown.” This summer, you might have seen him on the 16th Street Mall at Meet in the Street or heard him mining Denver’s creative community on the airways as part of the We Are Denver collective; for several years, he’s helped make people laugh as a member of the Black Actors Guild. We invited Foo to take a break from making things happen to answer the 100CC questionnaire; read on to see where he goes with that.
What (or who) is your creative muse?
Reality is my muse. Creation itself. The living, breathing, conscious fabric of the world: She pulses with the very moment, and she is my great inspiration.
One of her most fantastic manifestations is also a great creative muse of mine who goes by the name Eutimia. She is a force to be reckoned with, a brilliant mystic who has shaped the person I am, wish to be, and will certainly become. I love her. All of the corny love poems and songs about “the way she dances” never made sense to me — until Eutimia came into my life. Now it’s very clear.
We are potent reflections of one another, which means that things can be pretty intense sometimes. But we are always coming through the other side together, in healing, and with more and more grace. Plus, we take the time to really just enjoy life together. I am so excited to be moving forward with her.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Oh, snap — great question.
Would love Russell Brand to come to my next IllFooMinati event. He’s a great comedian that I respect, and a fellow whose interest in yoga, consciousness and lightheartedness rivals any modern icon.
God…Dan Harmon/Justin Roiland [Creators of Rick and Morty]? I feel like they’d be kinda depressing, though. Let’s be honest: They’d get totally wasted. Ken Levine, creator of BioShock, would also be an awesome guest. They’d all appreciate the games.
Joe Rogan would be cool to have — he’s an awesome podcast host and psychonaut of his own kind. I have a great respect for what he’s built and who he is. I know I listed five people, but, eh, I like to bend the rules.
The event-producer field here in Denver is weird. It’s dominated by giant venues, warring promoters and the city itself, so there’s a lack of creativity regarding how most folks view event production. I feel super-blessed to work with a team of innovative individuals, though, so it’s great to be able to think up a big concept and work it into actual existence. Plus, the field allows creative activators to really stick out.
As a host/emcee, the field is pretty awesome all around. Plus, I get to work with kids, lead fun exercises and develop teams of humans who are willing to be vulnerable, loving and appreciative.
How about globally?
I’m not really sure. That’s a totally different world. On the emcee side, I may be working with PeaceJam on a larger scale, so I hope to learn more about that soon enough.
Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?
Are trends…worth following…like at all? Hmm. That’s a little broad, and I’m not the right person to be asking about it. I think, yes. I’m not sure, however, that trends are worth identifying with. I think all memes, as a form of an epigenetic gene, are super-interesting to observe. I do favor loving ones that are emerging — like “holding space,” but they’re all insights into how we think collectively. As an event producer, I’m getting a little tired of cornhole.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as a creative?
I think We Are Denver is my favorite project thus far. Podcasting is a natural medium for me, and it’s a great honor to be able to create a new type of platform for creatives to share their voice, on behalf of our city. It’s also a lot more than podcasting; we produce events, cover new art shows and develop listings for those who are looking for talent. Either way, we’re building platforms for creatives to get paid for their good work, and that makes me really happy.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Oh, I love it. I helped to create We Are Denver for just that reason. It’s changing a lot, which is part of the reason I’d like to stay for a while. I think our artistic community can transmute the influx of energy into something really strong, but we’ve got to come together to do it.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
In my neck of the game, David Moke. He’s responsible for putting on a ton of awesome creative people, and I respect the ever-living hell out of him. If you have an opportunity to work with him, do it. I’ve learned a lot from the man.
Artistically, I really love Jon Shockness (aka Kid Astronaut) and Sur Ellz. They’re two musicians that I grew up with at Denver School of the Arts, and watching their growth has been nothing short of astonishing. They’re two of the only artists I bump on the regular. Seriously, though, check out Kid Astronaut and his new band, HVN, as well as Sur Ellz.
Finishing Meet in the Street on the 16th Street Mall, getting #WeAreDenver up and running at full capacity, working with Conscious Creatives to develop educational programming for students, and updating Ryan Foo from 4.7 to 4.8. Growth is always priority number one.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Baubo. They’re a dynamic trio of talented women who are just so damn genuine. Dancing, singing, kickass music, ritual, parables — they do it all. Every time I see them perform, I hope that the future of Denver sounds like that.
Also, Conscious Creatives. I’ve been keeping my eye on them for a while and am excited to be finally joining their team.
Also also, Andi Todaro kinda blows my mind. Her work is a beyond art, which makes it real art, and I’m not even sure how. Check out the Failure Lab program at the MCA and enroll your child if they meet the requirements. Robyn Huffman and Javon the Unique are also tight visual artists who could totally blow up.
Also and as well, Akiala III is pretty damn innovative, and I’m excited to see where her career takes her.
Otherwise, I think the community will get noticed as a whole; the more we come together, the more we can help to define our city. Lord knows that our city needs it.
See Ryan Foo on the 16th Street Mall at Meet in the Street, every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August 26. Learn more about We Are Denver and the Black Actors Guild online.