Ryan Chadwick was studying aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati in 2012 when he came across a dusty, run-down piano in his college dorm lobby.
It came in handy two years later when he did an internship in Kurashiki, Japan, when he had no friends and a major language barrier. To combat the isolation, he bought a keyboard and a train pass and spent his free time making music and traveling to bigger cities.
It paid off.
Chadwick performs under the name OTR—a nod to Over-the-Rhine, a recently revitalized area on the outskirts of Downtown Cincinnati. Now based in Atlanta, he is pushing his debut album, “Lost at Midnight.”
He released the companion single, “Broken, with Au/Ra, on April 3. His song, the shimmering “Midnight Sun,” featuring Ukiyo, was featured on the “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” soundtrack.
In mid-April, Chadwick was looking forward to the April 24 release date of “Lost a Midnight.” He was fighting through the pandemic by watching fans latch on to his music.
“It’s all kind of falling into place now,” he says. “It’s cool seeing everyone reacting well to the single right now. In the beginning, when I was just writing singles, I didn’t know if it was going to be a full length or what. That set the momentum for me to continue writing.
“Over time, it started falling into place and making sense. I wanted an album.”
Despite his piano-playing days in college, Chadwick didn’t always want to be a musician. He enjoyed learning about NASA and SpaceX in his aerospace engineering classes.
He went to grad school, but in the middle of it, several of his professors, his mentors, quit.
“One went on to be a toboggan for the U.S. Olympic Team,” he says. “Music for me was taking off. I wanted to see what happened. Over time, it blew up to what it was now. It used to just be something I like doing for fun.”