As electric as his playing is, guitarist Ryan Ferreira prefers an unplugged life.
At least twice a year, the 33-year-old modern jazz artist takes himself almost completely off the grid. He turns off his smartphone and computer, and concentrates on either his music or, as he did on a recent 10-day silent meditation retreat, his inner life.
“I always kind of crave it,” said Ferreira of his self-appointed disconnection. “Especially in New York, everyone is so plugged in. It made me realize how much time I spend keeping up on emails and social networks.”
Ferreira’s attempts to temper the pace of modern life make even more sense when listening to his solo recordings. The South Slope resident’s music puts an emphasis on atmosphere, teasing out calm, glassy, Brian Eno-inspired melodies and mist-like drones from his instrument.
The serene quality of his music is not just a reflection of Ferreira’s calm spirit, but also of the way in which he created it. His first solo album, 2012’s “Music For Images,” was composed during a creative retreat in Taos, New Mexico, where he kept a strict schedule of improvising and recording, then letting the material sit for a couple of hours before returning to it.
For Ferreira’s live performances, such his upcoming appearance at Pete’s Candy Store on Jan. 19, the emphasis is completely on improvisation.
“I may or may not end up playing something that I’ve worked on earlier that week or earlier that month,” said Ferreira. “It keeps changing. I never know quite what I’ll get into until that day.”
If there’s any potential downside to playing the kind of music that he does in a live setting, it is engaging with folks prone to tweeting and texting their way through every show. But after playing venues as small as someone’s living room and as spacious as the David Rubenstein Atrium at the Lincoln Center, Ferreira said never worries about finding his audience — even through a sea of screens.
“Finding the right space for my music or any type of music is a big deal for any artist,” he said. “But I still think you can connect with people and still have someone’s attention, even in a noisy bar.”
Ryan Ferreira at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. at Richardson Street in Williamsburg, (718) 302–3770, www.petescandystore.com]. Jan. 19 at 11 pm, Free.