video premiere: ‘vanilla,’ the trippy visual for harrison and ryan hemsworth’s newest collaboration

The Toronto-based producers arrive with a 3D animated video that looks and sounds like a video game dream world.

by Emily Manning
05 May 2016, 3:00pm

It's no secret that Canadian super producer Ryan Hemsworth is an animation freak. His Instagram is full of crazy colorful visuals, not least among them a personalized Pikachu and Sailor Moon rainbow sweater. So it makes sense that the newest video for his Secret Songs record label — "Vanilla," by upcoming Toronto producer Harrison — is a trippy, 3D animated ride through a world of peach-colored snowcaps, flying cars, and shape-shifting fighter jets. In short, anything but the blandness its title suggests.

The video — created and directed by Alex McLeod — illustrates Harrison's collaborative sonic efforts with Hemsworth. It's jam packed with, "bright, uplifting major chords with a synth that almost sounds like trying to swing through caramel," Harrison tells us, as he prepares to set off on tour with Hemsworth and Secret Songs alumna Ryan Playground. As you take a scoop of "Vanilla's" pillowy clouds, get to know the 20-year-old beatsmith behind its infectious sound.

Tell us a little bit about the track. What feelings or ideas guide its sound?
When I started to build on "Vanilla," it was originally going to be a piano instead of the xylophone sound that I have in it now; I wanted it to sparkle as much as I could and a piano couldn't do that the way I wanted it to. I sort of wanted it to sound like you were getting slingshotted into the cloud when the drums come in. This specific sort of song shouldn't be too long in my opinion. It's based around the same chord progression the whole way through, so we tried to give it more depth by having the 8bit section before the end. I'm happy the way it turned out actually.

How does "Vanilla's" video illustrate or communicate what's at play in the song? Walk us through what's happening it in your own words.
Well Alex McLeod absolutely killed it, such a great job on his part! When myself and the team helping develop me started working on the album visuals, I put together a pretty massive folder for referencing. It's filled with color pallets and photos and Alex managed to project what I had in that folder and my head out into this animation. For me, It seems like we're following a small journey into the mind of someone who hasn't had much adventure and picture this beautiful world of colors, shapes, and landscapes in their near future that they cannot wait to travel to. It's so hyper stimulated for them.

The animation is so interesting — childlike but also really sharp and angular. Why did you want to make an animated video, and why this style of animation?
I've always loved animated videos so much. It makes me ecstatic for this to be the first animated video that I'm associated with because I've been following this style for a while. I used to just go on YouTube sometimes and watch videos of 3D rendered slime falling on things. I don't know, I think it's sort of beautiful actually. It's such a specific sort of graphic design that seems to have more freedom, and I really love that.

Tell us about your collaborative process with Hemsworth. How did you guys meet? What's the biggest thing you've learned from him?
I think the first time I actually met Ryan was at his first Secret Songs show in Toronto. Ryan is very intuitive when it comes to sections and parts of songs. He showed me a demo a while back and I was stunned by how many parts he managed to put in without crowding the whole damn track. I've definitely learned to expand my horizons when it comes to sections.

You guys are about to set off on tour. How are you feeling?
Touring is scary when it's your first time. I've gotten used to cities like Toronto and Montreal and I guess that's a bad thing cus I haven't been nervous like this in a long time. I just want people to enjoy things but I'm so worried about fucking up that I put myself in this mindless state where I can hardly communicate. I'm slowly getting over that, and friends reassure me that it goes away with time.

What's up next for you?
I'm going to be releasing an album this year! I'm very excited for it and put my heart and soul into the project. Crossing my fingers people like it <3


Text Emily Manning
Photography courtesy Phillip Skoczkowski

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