HAVING broken free of the reigns of his boyband past, country singer Derek Ryan is now relishing being ‘the boss’.

A far cry from his miming and backing track days spent as the lead singer of D-Side, the Carlow man now proudly stands, centre stage with his band, performing before larger and larger crowds.

“I would never go back to being in a boyband,” he tells the Impartial Reporter, “Don’t get me wrong, it was a great experience. I got to be on Top Of The Pops, GMTV – all of those TV shows. It was great, but in that environment, you are very much told what to do. Now I’m the boss. Even though I am signed to a record label they tend to go along with what I say! I have my own space to grow as an artist.

“And when you are a singer, especially one who writes their own stuff, to have a live band behind you with great musicians is an amazing feeling.

“I kind of take it for granted now but in another way I suppose I appreciated it more because I had just come out of the pop scene where it was all backing tracks and miming. To me, that’s not what it should be about.” Reflecting on his second chance at the music industry, Derek says he has been given the freedom to “push the boundaries” of country music.

“I do my own thing and it’s great. It seems to work really well. I think that’s the appeal of country music as well. Young people are coming back to country music, maybe not instead of a night club but as well as the night club, and I don’t blame them. I love live music and any chance I get I would go to hear it.” But with his rise in popularity Derek has been pitted against fellow country music star, Nathan Carter.

He denies there is any rivalry between them, however.

“I don’t think there is. I always have massive respect for anyone who is talented. And if someone is talented then they deserve all the success they get. I have met Nathan quite a few times now and there is no rivalry. It is contrived by others.

“He was on the scene a year and a half before me, when country scene was really kicking off. And I suppose people see us as the two main faces, the two young guns. But it’s frustrating because if people go to see his show and then see mine they would realise they are completely different But just because we are both labelled as country we are put against each other.

“The way I see it, we are both making our own roads in this business, and own fans. I think it’s great for the industry and I have never been negative to anyone – the more the merrier as far as I am concerned.” Plans are afoot for a tour of Australia this September but for now, Derek is still enjoying performing before a growing crowd.

“I take every day as it comes. The gigs and venues are getting bigger all the time and long may that continue,” he says.