The ability to network on the web is a key skill for any young artist to possess in today’s music landscape. I’m not going to get into the demise of the record industry here (the New York Times produced a great infographic on the subject), but the resonating effect of the drop in record sales has been palpable. Connecting with artists, labels and collectives from across the country and world should be a key goal for any artist on the come up. Recently, we spoke with an artist who has utilized the web to astounding effect. Ryan Hemsworth is a 21 year old producer from Halifax, Nova Scotia on Canada’s far east coast. Halifax resides in a quiet corner of Canada, known more for its harbor and the cult TV favorite, Trailer Park Boys, than any form of hip hop or electronic music scene. As nearby Toronto and Montreal have gained notoriety for their abundance of innovative, young producers (Jacques Greene, Lunice, Zodiac, etc.), Halifax has remained a sleepy coast city. Hemsworth has responded to the lack of a local scene by extending roots to New York, Oakland, and even Paris. He is a member of the Green Ova crew, and has done extensive production work for Main Attrakionz and Shady Blaze over the past several years. More recently, the Bromance Records crew (Brodinski, Gesaffelstein, etc.) has been showing Hemsworth love. As a result, Hemsworth’s brand of “cloud dance” as he jokingly terms his music has become wildly popular in blog world, via remixes of artists as disparate as Grimes and Three 6 Mafia. Hemsworth is one of the most talented artists making music right now and has his foot in the door of stardom. I would not be at all surprised if he has a Clams Casino-esque presence in blog world, or if he has his hands on this year’s LiveLoveA$AP. Hit the jump to read the whole interview. You won’t regret it. Find Ryan at:
First off, can you introduce yourself to our readers a little bit. Who are you? Where are you from?
I’m Ryan Hemsworth, a 21-year-old white person from Halifax, Nova Scotia (that’s in Canada). Lived here all my life, on the far east coast. I’ve been making music for a while now but in the past couple years it’s finally started getting decent, I think haha
When did you start making music as Ryan Hemsworth?
I started making stuff in early high school (like 6-7 years ago maybe), recording my own songs on this crappy program–though it was sweet at the time to me–called Goldwave. Began with pretty basic stuff, and I’ve always worked on my stuff alone, so just laying the guitar track, drum track, keyboard, and then vocals reluctantly. Then in early university (almost 4 years ago), I got a Macbook and installed Logic, and got super into sampling and doing everything within my computer. And not using my voice
Are you associated with any other artists, crews, labels, etc.
I’m part of a couple collectives, Shots For Everyone and The Villa. The latter is based in Montreal, and the former is across Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Halifax. They’re kind of creative outlets to keep everything us like-minded folks do under one roof. And I’m kind of with the Green Ova crew – being Main Attrakionz, Shady Blaze, those guys. Mixing and producing for them off and on. And the Bromance Records crew (Brodinski and those French cats) have been showing a lot of love, I’m super happy to be working with them a little bit. The Internet makes me feel like I’ve got lots of friends
That’s quite a collection of crews! We’re big fans of Bromance and Green Ova. Are you on any of Main Attrakionz’ upcoming releases
It’s honestly hard to pinpoint what releases you’ll be on with Main Attrakionz; they tend to work on a bunch of projects at a time. Right now, that I know of, they’re working on their first album, I think Squadda has at least one mixtape in the works, and, there’s probably 10 other things going on that no one knows of. Want to make sure we keep working together though so I try to keep sending them new stuff constantly.
Yeah, you’ve been pretty prolific over the past couple years. What’s your personal favorite release?
I’m more happy with each new record I’ve done, really. Maybe that’s just.. how much I’m exposed to each thing I release, but I think I’m getting better. Just need to not let myself ever get too comfortable. Of my own tracks, I’m always happy when I put “It’s A Tennessee Thang” on and people dance; always a fun time.
What are you listening to right now? Playing in your DJ sets?
Nowadays I’m listening to too much 2 Chainz, Future, Lil B, Three 6 Mafia, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Gunplay, Exeter, The Shoes, Rustie, Brodinski, Toboggan, and Donkey Kong soundtracks. All of which are usually in my sets in some form.
Would you classify yourself in any genre? Do you consider yourself a hip hop producer?
People always call Main Attrakionz “cloud rap” but the shit I make is usually more dancey… so maybe, “cloud dance”? hahah since everyone loves to make up subgenres. I don’t turn away from too many types of music so I think that effects how my stuff comes out in a way that’s a little harder to categorize. That’s the way laptop music is effecting a lot of artists though, I think. It’s all just a big melting pot, but I like it. I love producing for rappers – that’s definitely one of my roles lately. And it’s starting to become more of a priority, despite not being in the same city as anyone I’m working with haha but yeah, I love to do original stuff, remixes, whatever to stay productive. It’s addictive to release new stuff.
Haha cloud dance. Gonna make it out to the West Coast anytime soon? You’ve got a lot of fans out here.
That’s crazy. I’d really love to, there are a lot of people from the bay that I’ve been talking with pretty regularly over email and facebook, who I’ve never met but pretty much consider friends. I just want to go to a warm place for a while hahah. So yeah, if I find a way to swing a flight to LA or that area, I’d definitely love to do it some time this summer. Tons of people I need to meet.
Yeah no doubt. I’m sure Low End Theory would love to have you. Do you consider yourself a DJ or a producer first? What does your live setup look like?
Producer first, performing came after, as something you eventually feel like you need to do. But I love the performance aspect now – when it goes well it’s an amazing feeling. When it doesn’t, I feel like not making music anymore, but then I’ll wake up the next morning and forget that feeling. Fortunately that hasn’t happened often.
What does your live setup look like?
My set-up live is my laptop and controller (Akai APC20). Everything fits in my bag, which makes me so happy, ’cause I have a hard enough time already not losing just that stuff and their wires. I use Ableton to perform, and kind of have a hybrid DJ/live performance. I’ll have my original tracks and remixes all in separate segments, so I can drop out any parts and bring in new samples on top of them and little pieces of other peoples’ songs. Some day I’ll have a 100% “Ryan Hemsworth” set, but right it’s just more fun to me to go from a track by me, weave it into a Juicy J track with, say, the synths from my previous song still in tact, bring in a sample from Metroid, transition into the next song. I enjoy making surprises like that.
When I think of Halifax, Trailer Park Boys comes to mind. Fan or no?
hahah yep, for sure. I’ve talked to people in New Zealand and that’s all they know about Nova Scotia. Maybe it gives us a bad image, but who cares, it’s hilarious. The guy who played Bubbles actually owned a (grimy) bar downtown (Bubbles’ Mansion) for a while; they make public appearances at events still once in a while hahah I’m surprised how huge it got over the years, but who doesn’t love a little stupid white trash (also see: FUBAR).
I’ll have to check that one out. What are your thoughts on Toronto’s emerging R&B scene?
Tons of great producers coming out of both TO and Montreal right now. Toronto’s talent seems a little less coherent than Montreal’s, to me, but that’s kind of exciting to me. I relate to it, seeing as I don’t have many music pals around here. Toronto has dudes like Deebs, Mike Din, Exeter, Zodiac and Jesse Futerman (just a few), who all make totally different music but equally awesome in their own ways. Though none of them are really R&B so much. I think a lot of people want TO to soar though, due to the OVOXO stuff. We’ll see if anything actually comes out of that. Love these cities though, can’t wait to go back and waste my money on clothes.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2012?
This summer I’m starting to build up some shows – a few in Toronto of the next couple months that I’ll be updating my Facebook on. I want to do lots more shows in other cities this year. It’d be amazing to play some festivals or something… We’ll see. Otherwise, I’m just building up songs now for whatever the next release ends up being. I like the package/length of EPs, so my next couple will probably be short, and I want to get some new friends to remix stuff for sure. Expect lots of new production for Deniro Farrar, and the Green Ova dudes as usual.
Yeah I’d love to make it out to either city someday. Any profound last thoughts, jokes, anecdotes? Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Nawwwl, just thanks to y’all at Astral Plane for the interview, appreciated the questions. Keep livin’ that positive lifestyle. bang bang. <3