Sleeping At Last is the moniker of Chicago-based singer-songwriter, producer, and composer, Ryan O’Neal. Ryan joins Chicago Philharmonic in concert for our September 9, 2023 Harris Fest performance.
Music has the extraordinary power to touch our souls and unlock emotions we didn’t know existed. One artist who masterfully harnesses this ethereal charm is Ryan O’Neal, the creative genius behind Sleeping At Last.
Ryan O’Neal hails from the suburbs of Chicago. When Ryan started Sleeping At Last, it was initially as a three-piece band alongside his brother Chad O’Neal on drums and bassist Dan Perdue. However, as time unfolded, Ryan O’Neal became the sole driving force behind the project. Armed with his melodic genius and exceptional multi-instrumental talents, he carved a unique path in the world of music. Since its inception in 1999, Sleeping At Last has released seven albums, four EPs, and over 170 singles and has toured extensively in the United States and internationally.
From TV Shows to Blockbusters
Sleeping at Last‘s work is characterized by its enchanting and emotive sound, often described as indie, alternative, and ambient. Ryan is known for his ability to craft introspective and cinematic compositions, which evoke a sense of introspection and depth. His has found resonance in various media, such as Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, Criminal Minds, and So You Think You Can Dance. Notably, his song “Turning Page” was prominently featured in the film The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, which undoubtedly introduced his music to a vast new audience, as the Twilight film series had a massive global following.
Now, almost 12 years since the pivotal release of “Turning Page”, Sleeping At Last premiered its official music video just this week on July 25, 2023. “It’s not just a love song; it’s a little bit of a life and death song. Like, an overarching kind of song for the story of our lives,” Ryan expresses in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. The video, which is co-directed by famed dancer, Derek Hough and So You Think You Can Dance alum Phillip Chbeeb, explores both the beauty and ephemerality of love through the medium of dance. Watch the full music video below.
“Turning Page” by Sleeping At Last (Official Music Video)
The musical style of Sleeping At Last incorporates a wide range of instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, piano, strings, and atmospheric textures. O’Neal’s captivating vocals serve as the centerpiece, carrying the listener through a journey of emotions and storytelling. The songs often feature delicate melodies, lush arrangements, and intricate harmonies, creating a dream-like and immersive experience. The lyrical themes explore human emotions, personal growth, introspection, and the wonder of life and the universe.
“Saturn”, from the 2014 album Atlas: I, is another song of O’Neal’s that has struck a chord in the hearts of many. In this album, Sleeping At Last weaves human emotions and thought-provoking questions into the fabric of each planet. With Pluto, he explores the profound sense of distance. Venus, in turn, becomes a canvas for their lyrical musings on “astronomy in reverse, it was me who was discovered.” And when it comes to Saturn, Ryan beautifully expresses the sentiment, “how rare and beautiful it is that we exist.” Through his music, Sleeping At Last effortlessly connects the wonders of the cosmos with the intricacies of human experience, leaving listeners with a profound sense of introspection and awe.
In a revealing interview with Orbiter Magazine back in 2018, Ryan O’Neal provides a fascinating insight into his songwriting process for the album:
“I started from scratch on each [song about the planets], pretending I knew nothing about them and was learning these things for the first time as I did my research. I watched documentaries and talked to friends who are smarter than me. And I just followed that same process for each planet.
Saturn is the most visually beautiful planet, so I chose what I consider the most visually beautiful instrument—the cello. So cello and piano kind of became the rules for that song. I took a little liberty in some of the themes. They are personal songs, they mean a lot to me, and don’t always specifically correlate to data learned from each of the planets. I wanted them to be human songs that felt very much from the heart, while also pulling in some of the traits and feelings from what I was learning about each of the planets.”
Watch the full music video below.
“Saturn” by Sleeping At Last (Official Music Video)
Ryan O’Neal’s journey with Sleeping At Last is a testament to his creativity, dedication, and profound musical artistry. His compositions leave a lasting impact on the independent music scene, resonating deeply with listeners across the globe. If you haven’t yet experienced the musical brilliance of Ryan O’Neal’s Sleeping At Last, mark your calendar for September 9, 2023. On this date, Chicago Philharmonic will collaborate, perform, and premiere new arrangements of Sleeping At Last’s work in a FREE CONCERT at Pritzker Pavillion as a part of Harris Theater’s 20th anniversary celebration.
Hooked? Listen to more of Sleeping At Last‘s work below!