New Friends: Producer Ryan Hemsworth Interview & Playlist
Ryan Hemsworth makes music for the internet. From his head turning bootlegs of Frank Ocean, Grimes and Cat Power to his new label and pair of LP's he's released in the last year, the 24 year old producer's meandering path has cemented him as one not to lose sight of.
For Hemsworth, this has been a year of collaboration – in the chaos of constant tours across America, Europe, and Japan he's found the time to curate one of the most future facing "labels" of the year. His Secret Songs soundcloud has released free tracks from producers like Tennyson, Ricky Eat Acid, et aliae, and dozens more. We managed to take Ryan back in time to his early days of making music for himself in a humble Halifax bedroom.
When did you start playing around with music?
I began learning Nirvana and Soundgarden and Foo Fighters songs on guitar when I was around 13 years old. My older cousin was in a band and I kind of always thought being in a band was the highest form of human coolness.
What was it about electronic production and DJ-ing that grabbed your attention?
I think the experience of recording and post-production became the most fun for me when I was learning. I would record myself with a shitty headset microphone doing covers of songs, but starting gaining interested in the wave forms and what i could do chopping up pieces of recordings and repeating, looping, and adding effects to them. Altering familiar sounds is really fun to me.
Who did you listen to in high school?
In high school my tastes opened up a lot I think. In middle school I only listened to rock and emo and stuff with guitars. By high school I started keeping bookmarks of all the different blogs I could find that would have ambient albums, 90s rap albums, jazz albums, it was really the feeling of access that I fell in love with. I've never taken for granted the luxury of being able to jump from Squarepusher to Del the Funky Homosapien to Pavement.
What's the album you think had the most impact on you growing up?
Probably The Wrens' "The Meadowlands" for its ability to express emotion with quality, production and specific instruments, or John Frusciante's "To Record Only Water For Ten Days" for kind of the same reason.
How did growing up in Halifax have an effect on your current sound?
I think Halifax's main influence on me was a push to look harder for something else out there.
We've read somewhere that you used to run a music blog – What was it called and are you still updating it?
Haha yeah I had a dumb one called A Half Warmed Fish, I don't update anymore but I keep it online to check it sometimes and feel embarrassed.
What was the inspiration behind creating and releasing Secret Songs? Can you talk a little bit about the concept?
It's just been about going back to feeling: excited and nervous about music. The excitement of finding new songs, or as a DJ, being sent new songs by certain artists that really catch you off guard. And the nervousness of releasing music without relying on a blog premiere or any crutch that a lot of artists including myself are pressured to rely on sometimes for releases.
What bands were you listening to when you were last in the studio?
The most important releases to me lately have been Cursive's "The Ugly Organ" and Lontalius' "The World Will Never Know About Us." They both throw me into such weird states of inspiration, melancholy, and comfort.
You've mentioned before that you've considered starting a label – any plans on making that happen soon?
Secret Songs is slowly becoming one, but I don't know if it will ever be a proper normal label. I've never had a master plan with it, my ideas change every day, which keeps it spontaneous and exciting. One day I can put out an EP, the next I can put out a zine contributed to only by my favorite artists, it can be anything I want.
You always seem to have friends with you – any of them making music we should know about?
I've always thought Hot Sugar is so underrated, I just found this dude from Ottawa named Night Lovell who i think is going to do some great stuff (especially for Canada). I also know my friend Meishi Smile is coming out with a really special EP.
You've recently returned from a tour of Japan – what were the essentials in your backpack when you were exploring the ins and outs of each city?
Disposable camera, lots of yen in my wallet so I could buy everything instantly with, headphones for walking around aimlessly, but I guess also just not overpacking because there was so much walking to do.
Cover Photo By Richard Phibbs