Instructor Ryan Black Releases New Album

PhotoThe album cover for "Push Button Future"
“Push Button Future,” was produced and written by Audio Arts and Acoustics Instructor Ryan Black and features the artist NÆ.

Columbia College Chicago is pleased to announce the release of the album “Push Button Future,” which Black has called a “glittery pop album with a scathing cultural critique of societal privilege and aspirational lifestyles.” The tracks on the album span a variety of genres including dubstep, synthwave, and trap. “Push Button Future” is available on Spotify, Amazon music, Apple Music, iTunes, deezer, and YouTube. You can listen to the album on all platforms here.

The title of the album references, as Black says, the “push-button devices that revolutionized homes in 1950s America…the album speaks to the evolution of technology, the domestic space, and the foundation for where we find ourselves using technology today.” “Push Button Future” has enjoyed significant positive press, including interviews with on the podcasts “What the Punk!?” and “Fierce, Fabulous Revolution.” In addition, NÆ was featured in an article in Esthetic Lens and both NÆ and Black were featured on the 200th episode of the podcast, “Advance Your Art.”

As a concept-based pop album, much of the content on “Push Button Future” mirrors the idiosyncrasies of our contemporary world. For example, as Black says, “‘Get Off On Ur Msgz’ is about the strangeness of virtual spaces for relationships and online dating. ‘Sugar Pumps’ is about latent sugar and caffeine addictions. ‘Runaway Bay/Bae’ talks about the dark side of aspirational lifestyle marketing; the ads that are fed to us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and that can take over our home life.”

At Columbia, Black teaches AUD 121 and AUD 122, both fundamental courses in Audio Arts and Acoustics. He prides himself on mentoring students who are seeking out professional opportunities during their academic tenure at Columbia. He’s well placed to offer such advice: in the last four years alone, Black has managed, performed, or done sound for six to seven hundred shows. When he is not making music, teaching, or mentoring students at Columbia, Black is working on his new series, Saturnae, which he describes as “fantastical.”

The artist NÆ, also known as JaNae Contag, has a background in visual art and political science and has focused her art practice on the American cultural landscape and consumerism. Many components of this album brought themes Contag has long explored as performance art into a highly performative pop context. Aside from her work as NÆ, Contag teaches at DePaul University and works as a commercial photographer.

For more information regarding the album you can reach Ryan Black directly at


Rhiannon Koehler
Communications Manager