Ryan Hemsworth on Making Music, Buying Vinyl, Meeting Musicians

Ryan Hemsworth Press Photo 2014 Ryan Hemsworth Press Photo 2014

Robyn Homeniuk (RH1): What is your typical day like when you’re on tour?

Ryan Hemsworth (RH2):  I guess, waking up at like 7 or 6 and going to the airport and getting a huge delicious PSL frapp.


RH1: Haha, you mean #PSL right?

RH2: Yeah. After that, I fly to wherever my next show is and go to my hotel. I get in my bed, I usually spend some time staring at my computer until I need to go to the venue or until I go to out to dinner with friends. So I have very exciting days every day.


RH1: Wow you seem to really have a hectic lifestyle, it definitely sounds like you need that frap. So you’re from Halifax right? Do you think that being from Halifax affects your music style at all?

RH2: It has definitely affected me in a way.  Maybe just trying to not to sound like a Halifax musician.


RH1: Yeah there is definitely a specific east-coast vibe.

RH2: Yeah, acoustic Jack Johnson cover band in the coffee shop vibe. That is definitely a prominent thing in Halifax. Which I am slightly guilty of, mostly in Junior High and stuff. I think I have figured out that I needed to look beyond Nova Scotia and look to other places for inspiration. I feel like my stuff is a weird melting pot of all that shit that I’ve found on the internet.


RH1: Halifax is kind of isolated, do you think your music would be different if you were born in Toronto or Vancouver?

RH2: I think it’s possible yeah. I guess it’s hard to pinpoint what the differences would be. Toronto sound is hard to describe, I guess Drake or whatever counts. I would have more music friends I guess. Coming up in Halifax I was more relying on myself and things that inspired me and on the kind of music that I wanted to make.


RH1: Last week you had an album drop, do you have a favourite track off of it?

RH2: I think for most [artists] it kind of jumps around a lot with your own stuff. I’m really happy with the 4th track “Blemish”. It’s one of the instrumental ones. I took a chance on tracks like that one to play guitar and do a lot of different stuff on it compared to what I would be expected to do as a producer. I wanted to take a few more chances with different sounds.

RH1: That’s actually something that I’m always wondering in this genre, and maybe you can help me understand it better with one of your tracks. How much of the song is computer generated and how much is raw recording?

RH2: Yeah totally, let’s use “Snow in Newark” which is the first single off of this album. The intro weird sounds are a sampler keyboard that I use, basically you make your own tones and stuff. I had some friend’s a Capella stuff they’ve sent me; I take one note that they are singing and tie it to a key on the keyboard. So I’m basically playing their voice with the keyboard; that’s how I made the intro to that song. And then the drums are basically three different layers of drums and loops that I made myself, but I didn’t record the drums I just took them from rock songs and shit that I cant say or I’ll get sued.


RH1: Right okay, you don’t have to reveal them then.

RH2: On these tracks I tried to sample a lot less, or at least do it more incognito.  In the past, my music has been pretty laden with the stuff I’ve sampled. I think sampling is a pretty important part of my music, just to have the references and everything. I guess that’s an example of what my mysterious musical ways.


RH1: If you could work with anyone in music, either to produce with or vocally, from any point in time who would you choose?

RH2: It would be a singer…. There is always one person pretty high on that list and it’s Ben Gibbard from Death Cab/ Postal Service. I feel like it should be someone more exciting than that though. I really want to work with more singers in that world rather than rap singers or R&B singers. For me it’s trying to do something more unexpected. I think now is such a good time for producers to bridge that world with Indie artists and bands and shit; that’s why I worked with Alex G and stuff. I think it’s a good time to do this kind of thing because producers are now being expected to do more live production, using live instruments and stuff like this. The line is already blurring pretty well.


RH1:  I think it’s cool for indie fans too because it gets them out of the “shell” of music they listen to, and it’s always great to get into new styles of music.

RH2: Yeah that’s definitely true. I think that even though we all look to rap and stuff, we all grew up on similar music. We care about music that sounds good in headphones not just music that sounds good in a club.


RH1: What’s your opinion re: vinyls? Do you think they’re coming back or do you think the modern obsession with them is useless?

RH2: I think that CDs are pretty much dead and gone. Except for in Japan, I was just over there  and people really still love buying CDs. I think vinyl will survive for a long time, there will always be a niche for it. It combines the physical aspects and also it’s literally a big physical piece of someone’s work. Plus you have the artwork, the liner notes, and hopefully that’s something people still care about. People want to feel special, and talk about how much better vinyl sounds and that kind of bullshit. I think it’s nice to own records; I don’t even have a record player but I still like to buy them. It’s nice to have something physical, it’s much nicer than just downloading something on iTunes.


RH1: Well I was going to ask you about your collection, but if you don’t have a record player I don’t know if the question is still valid.

RH2: I have this one from DOSS, who I worked with on my album. It’s really nice, dancey trance music, it’s kind of early video game music.


RH1: If you were to have your 10 year-old-self take a look at you now, and your life and what you’re doing with music, what do you think he would say? I’m not sure what you were like as a 10 year old but…

RH2: Woah. I think he would be like “Yo that’s tight. Keep going.” He would be really excited because I just had a dinner date with Joel Madden from Good Charlotte a couple weeks ago.


RH1: OMG! Me at 10 would also be super excited for you.

RH2: I think he would be really proud of me. It was really tight, he just hit me up saying “I really like your stuff” and I was like “I also like Good Charlotte” then he said “I live in LA, if you want to get sushi or something when you’re in town?” and I happened to be in LA the next day.


RH1: Have you met any other cool people recently?

RH2: Well Joel asked, “Is it cool if I bring my wife Nicole Richie?” I could only say yes.  That was a very unique experience. I have met some other cool people as well. I met Mac Demarco at a festival this summer, and we watched all of Outkast together. We went back to my hotel and he fell asleep on my shoulder and was snoring and such. That was a good experience as well. There are a lot of strange experiences when you’re on the road and running into people.


RH1: Wow, I can only imagine the kinds of fun stuff you get up to on tour. Montreal will be seeing you Friday, so I hope you have a good week.

Ryan is playing a set in support of his new album “Alone For The First Time” on Friday November 14 at Le Belmont at 10 p.m. $20. You can find tickets here.