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Interviews, Music

Living in the Soundcloud Generation: An Interview with Ryan Hemsworth

As your popularity has grown, what has that done to your creative process? Has the process changed? What sort of outside pressures do you have to deal with?

I’ve never really cared that much about sales or anything like that. I guess growing up in a time we don’t really buy music as much nowadays, and just download shit. That’s how I live as well.

I think just maybe…even just through, I guess, spending a lot of time on my computer, I’ll just be overwhelmed by, when people are constantly trying to get in touch with me. And sometimes it’s the weirdest thing… [On] a night off…it’s either work on a song or just do emails all night. And usually [I] just end up doing the emails, which is like oh my god, I work hard to get into this position, then I’m just being more of a business person, which is a curse to me. So, answer less emails and work on more songs.

DJ/Producer Ryan Hemsworth released his second LP, Alone for the First Time, on Nov. 4, on the heels of his JUNO-winning first solo album, Guilt Trips.

DJ/Producer Ryan Hemsworth released his second LP, Alone for the First Time, on Nov. 4, on the heels of his JUNO-winning first solo album, Guilt Trips.

Halifax is a city without much of a scene – there’s a lot of great music there, just little in terms of electronic – so where did all your remixes, sampling, music writing, etc. come from? Why/how were you drawn to electronic?

I had a few cousins who were in bands and stuff but one who kind of put me on to rap and weird Aphex Twin albums and stuff like that. So that was a good influence early on. But I don’t know, I like, just grew up on a computer, so just looking on blogs and torrenting music every day, that was kind of the feeling of discovering new, weird stuff that wasn’t from Halifax. [That] was kind of my most exciting feeling.

Once I just started making friends in Montreal and Toronto, when I was in high school, and then finally leaving to play my first shows in Pop Montreal and stuff like that, that really kind of made me realize that there are endless possibilities of ways of performing and creating music, and you don’t have to be in a folk band to get that.

Are there cities where you’ve found inspiration? Do you feel like a heartbeat in any city that makes you want to create?

Absolutely. That’s kind of been my favourite part of travelling…it’s just like meeting up with all these producers that, for most people only exist online on Soundcloud, so I kind of go out of my way when I’m in London or LA or wherever. Definitely for me, London is really exciting right now, with the crew, PC Music.

And I finally went to Tokyo last month and that was probably the most inspiring for me as well, because so many producers I’ve worked with and been following, finally get to meet up with, and hang out and talk about music. So, the travelling part is probably the most inspirational and keeps opening your eyes, and helping you to think outside the box.

How do you choose whom to collaborate with?

I want to work with unexpected people, I guess…It’s just if they’re doing something different that I can tell. And also, at this point, I just really like working with people who are just coming up now and figuring out their sound, but definitely already have some kind of work so I can hear, just so I can help people flesh that out.

Where do you want to take yourself next, creatively?

Kind of a few steps I want to take. I’ve been doing this thing that’s kind of slowly become a label that I call Secret Songs, and just been releasing tracks…but I already kind of have the first couple EPs ready from people, so I definitely want to focus more on that, just through kind of showcasing my friends’ music.

But also with my own, I definitely have thought about maybe doing a side project or two. [I] would really like to start a band sometime in the new year as well, just kind of in that same way, continuing to do whatever unexpected I guess. It’s really easy for a producer to do the same thing and then fade away.

What kind of band? Like, would you pick up a guitar again?

Yeah, definitely, that’s what I’ve thought about. I don’t know, I’ve just always had a soft spot for shoegaze and more ambient music, so somewhere in between those worlds, probably.

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