Exclusive Song: Ryan Star's "Breathe"
Andrew Zaeh

There are any number of paths to stardom, each with its own quirks, frustrations and potential. No one knows this better than Ryan Star, whose rise kicked off when he competed in the 2006 CBS reality show "Rockstar: Supernova." But this breakthrough came after years of hard work in the business, first as a member of Maverick Records-signed band Stage, then as an independent solo artist playing the downtown NYC club circuit. A former Billboard Underground artist, Star has had his music featured prominently across network television, toured with "American Idol" champ David Cook and released the Billboard Heatseekers-charting EP "Last Train Home" in June. Here, Billboard.com exclusively debuts "Breathe," from Star's upcoming full-length album "11:59," due later this year from Atlantic.

"Breathe" - Ryan Star

Listen to our exclusive stream of the Ryan Star song "Breathe"

We're debuting "Breathe" on the new Billboard.com - what inspired you when writing this song?

For me the beautiful thing about music, even songs I grew up listening to versus listening to them now, is that they change. It's like your fifth grade teacher telling you "read Animal Farm again when you're older, it will mean more." And that's what music does to me. I recall having a moment, and it was probably pretty literal to the idea of what the song says in its lyrics, but now it has a new meaning for me every night because people come up to me and share some intense things that are going on with their life and how the song has touched them... The song has had its own meaning for me. I played it at a friend's funeral when I first wrote it, so it's been this really intense song for me since the beginning. But it's more exciting when I get to share it with people, and the meaning is far gone from where it started.

Why did you decide to release the "Last Train Home" EP in advance of the album, instead of giving fans everything at once?

I was working on the full album while finishing the tour [with David Cook], but all these songs happened to get out there -- I wrote this song "Brand New Day" for the show "Lie To Me" on Fox, "Right Now" got picked up for promos for "The Philanthropist" [on NBC], and then ESPN used it a lot, and then "This Could Be the Year" got picked up for the Super Bowl. So I have all these fans I'm making, and these fans have stuck with me a long time, and it felt like, "Why are you giving your music to TV people in suits, and we can't get a hold of it?" I got to the point where I'd heard it so much, I thought let's put all these songs that have gotten out there to the world, let's put them on an EP so people can get full versions of the things they had been getting teasers of. But the good news is the album has plenty more songs... It ranges from me on the piano alone to songs with a full-out rock band.