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

Where does the album title 11:59 come from, and what are some of the main themes that connect the songs?

The album is kind of made up of moments, they're all these snapshots of life-there's a song called "Wake Up," one called "This Could Be the Year," one called "Right Now," even "Brand New Day," -- all these ideas that were time-oriented in the sense that there was an urgency to them. I have a song called "11:59," and that number, whatever it stands for, the time of day, the year, that moment in life when people do take notice, and they breathe and say, "Ok, where am I?" and they kind of assess.

Just a few years ago you were one of our Billboard Underground artists, then you went on "Rock Star: Supernova" and everything took off. Are there any really stand-out lessons you've learned from gaining national exposure so quickly?

[The show] scared the hell out of me. But it also made me think, my goal here is to get in front of as many people as possible, so if I take all the stereotypes out, if I take all the fear out of what would happen if I did such a show, at the end of the day I'm just getting in front of people. So somehow, I don't know how, I came out of that experience well intact. I think it's because I had a lot to live up to. Being from New York and having all my hipster friends, I knew I had to come home and play the clubs that I'd always played downtown. I think that kept me on the level of, "You gotta be yourself here, you can't play the game too much, because if you go home tomorrow you have to be yourself." It turned out that I was the only guy from the show to get a record deal and I think it was because of that and all the hustle that I'd done beforehand. Now I get to make the record that I wanted to make, take the time, and it's great to get what I feel is a real shot.