Ryan Hemsworth, a 22-year-old bedroom producer from Halifax, has risen to recognition over the past year with a couple of blog-hyped EPs, and is now commissioned to do remixes for the likes of French “electro-bro” Brodinski’s label, Bromance Records. I discussed his strategy in theJuly issue of AUX’s ipad magazine. Aside from producing for nu rappers like Main Attraktionz, he’s got a knack for remixing a mash of genres, from pop to RnB. Speaking of which, you’ll likely hear his 48-hour-old remix of Frank Ocean’s Thinkin Bout You this Saturday as he plays Wrongbar’s monthly SLOWED event in Toronto.
Here is the rest of my interview with Hemsworth, who plans to drop an new EP, Last Words, this month. Now living in Ottawa for the summer, he talks about being the centre of attention when he DJs, spinning music that is too slow for me to dance to, and how he now gets 30,000 hits on his Soundcloud tracks despite being so new, and rarely having met anyone he’s working with.
What are you listening to these days, and how would you describe your own music?
I listen to as much music as I can, whether it’s house, UK dance, rap, old, new, whatever. I’m honestly making a few different styles of music. I produce rap for rappers and as a solo artist I make dance music, dark electronic music.
Who are your fav rappers right now?
Main Attrakionz, Danny Brown, Meek Mill, Gunplay, Flocka, Travis Porter, and I’m always into Three 6 Mafia, Tommy Wright, and other Memphis artists’ back catalogue.
Cold & Tempted by Ryan Hemsworth
How does someone from Halifax hook up with making beats for stoner rappers from Oakland?
I’ve never met Shady Blaze or any of the rappers I work with. We’ve communicated and collaborated entirely through emails and Twitter. I’ve been working with him for a while. He’s a super quick worker, we did a free album last summer (Distorted) in no time at all. I just emailed him one day some time in 2011 and asked if he needed beats. He said yes, and we sent stuff back and forth (at a pretty rapid pace sometimes; he works as fast as he raps).
What kind of music were you raised on, and does that influence your production work? (I hear a lot of melody, so I’m guessing you listened to some pop and maybe rock).
In middle school I mainly listened to 90s rock, grunge and all that, but I’ve always loved pop music and appreciated creating something special out of a simple song formula. Listening to every type of music is important to understanding what you like, don’t like, and what works and doesn’t in every context. I enjoy digesting a lot of different genres at a time, which is probably why it makes sense to me to go from Bjork to Dipset in a mix.
Thinkin Bout You (Ryan Hemsworth Bootleg) by Frank Ocean
Your house track “Deros” seems a bit left field compared to your other productions. Are you a house and techno fan and do you see yourself doing more of that in future?
That track was a quick experiment. Once in a while I’ll try to do something different, in that case I was trying to make some darker house, I think. I don’t think it’s healthy to get too comfortable with a certain sound, it gives people a lot to talk about if they want to pigeonhole you or criticize your style. I like house though, I’m a big fan of Brodinski and what Club Cheval are doing in France right now. Maybe I’ll make more stuff like that next week, who knows.
Deros by Ryan Hemsworth
How do you play live? Are you shy of being the centre of attention, and do you consider yourself performing or just part of the party?
I use Ableton for my live sets. My mixes are a reflection of how my performances go down, minus the sweat and all that. I still surprise myself, in that I’m not too nervous to perform really. My brain is weird and instead of panicking before a show, I get sleepy. So pre-show, I’m probably backstage looking like I’m about to nod off, which isn’t a good look, but as soon as I’m up and performing it’s always an electric feeling. As for performing, it’s give and take. The music and performance facilitates the party, but the performer and audience go hand in hand – we’re all hoping the night doesn’t end up sucking.
I find a lot of the music (like what you and Shlomo play) is almost too slow to dance to. Are you concerned with people dancing at your DJ shows?
I share the same mindset as Shlohmo – it’s more interesting to make emotional music at home, but when you get to the club, no one wants to be sad and have a bummer time listening to your slow stuff on a Friday night. In my sets nowadays I literally go from half-time, double-time, to four-on-the-floor and back. I think that’s surprising to people, especially if you’re used to going to house shows or certain nights that is a consistent speed and style the entire time. I’m not a fan of listening to the same stuff all night and I think the element of surprise is important, so I’m not scared if people get a little put off by that or aren’t sure how to react (as long as they’re not walking away). Every show is a learning experience.
Ryan Hemsworth – SLOWED SUMMER by Scion Sessions
What’s next for you?
I’m just finishing up my next EP, which is coming out in August with Wedidit Collective, who I’m working with now. Shlohmo, RL Grime and Groundislava are just a few on the team, it’s really just a group of some of my favourite artists so I’m really excited to be a part of it. I’ve got some remixes lined up from Shlohmo, Canblaster and Sam Tiba to name a few. And I’ve got more production to come for Deniro Farrar and Main Attrakionz.
But I heard you’re graduated from journalism school – what do you plan to do with that?
I’ve finished studying at University of King’s College in Halifax this year. I’m in Ottawa for at least this summer and we’ll see after that. I just finished school in the city I grew up in all my life, so naturally I’m taking some time away from both of those things. Hopefully music can keep me afloat because I’m not too interested in reporting on boring local news right now.