producer ryan hemsworth is bitter-sweet, happy-sad
Born and raised in Halifax, Canada (or according to his soundcloud bio, Nellyville) Ryan Hemsworth is one of our favourite producers in the world ever.
Despite the constant touring, the Japan-fan has somehow found time to create an awesome album almost entirely on the road. Alone For The First Time is like nursing the break-up of a super-cute love story by playing videogames and listening to The Postal Service on repeat. Although mostly instrumental, select tracks feature occasional vocals from some of Ryan's most talented internet friends. Keen to get to know the man behind the music, we hung out with the sweetest guy in the production game to discuss his love of London, trying to make bros dance in Paris, and the emotional rollercoaster we call life.
How do things go down when you collaborate with other artists?
I worked with five different singers on the album and as I was travelling the whole time, it was all over the internet. For Snow In Newark, I talked with Dawn Golden for a long time and as we were both in the same mindset of being on the road and missing people, I thought it was a really legit way of creating music on that subject. I think it's good to be sad when you make music. Even though I don't sing or have many lyrics in my music, I try to express how I'm feeling through production and making things sound pretty and sad. That's my voice.
What would your dream studio location be?
Well every time I come to London I always find myself surrounded by people who are really talented and it makes me feel so motivated. I definitely think about moving here sometimes because it's always hard to leave. Growing up I loved Radiohead and shit like that so I think it's natural for me to have this romantic idea of London.
Do you still have that despite travelling so much?
A little bit, yeah. Growing up, I never thought I would travel far, but I watch a lot of movies so I've always had these ideas of places like Japan and LA. So when I actually get to go there, everything is amazing.
Presumably Snow in Newark refers to the small market town in the North East of England?
No, sorry... I made that when I was stuck at Newark Airport and it was snowing and flights were delayed I just wanted to get home, so I guess I was in the right mindset to make a sad track. I think that was the first track that I made for this album, and then I just kept making stuff in that direction. At that point I started to only listen to the music I grew up on. I've been so happy because comments have been like 'The Postal Service 2.0!' and stuff and that's exactly what I want.
So is this a whole new direction for you? Or is this sound exclusively for this album?
I think the thing is, I'm constantly indecisive musically. But I've always been trying to get more into this direction. It's also a weird point for me because I'm still playing clubs, so I tried to play Snow In Newark the other night in this very bro-y club in Paris and it didn't work at all. But afterwards, a bunch of girls were like 'no, it was perfect!' so I think I have to get more comfortable playing music that isn't necessarily gonna get a physical reaction from people. But I'm so used to playing clubs and needing to get people to dance that it's hard to chance what you're so used to. Maybe I'll just keep on doing both and being unsure whether I'm disappointing people or making their nights.
Or just stop caring?
Oh that'd be so nice.
Is the album about love?
Everything I make is about feelings in one way or another - even if it's just walking down the street and seeing someone who's really pretty and wondering what their life is like. I mean, in my life right now I move around a lot and make lots of great friends, but I'm in town for like two days and then don't get see them for four months or ever again, so it's just that feeling of being happy and then sad, happy, sad, happy, sad.
Life is a rollercoaster...
...you've just gotta ride it.
Yeah, more or less. It's just about that weird, bitter-sweet feeling of being able to do awesome things but finding that you can't get too attached to anything.
That's sad. Finally, can you tell us about your epic new video?
We went to Nepal for five days and shot the video there. I rode elephants through the jungle and hung out with monkeys and shaved my head and made me a monk. It was crazy, the weirdest cultural experience I've had. It was with the same director as my last video, One For Me, and it's basically the second part of that. That's supposed to be like the boring side of travelling and being a DJ, and this is like, me retired from the EDM world, just chilling on the other side of the planet and searching for something else to make me happy. I think it's a different way for a producer to be seen. Producers are some of the most important artists in 2014 yet we don't often see them on the covers of magazines or anything, so it's nice to force yourself into that situation.
Alone For The First Time is Out now on Ryan's own label Secret Songs, via Last Gang Records.
Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Stephanie Sian Smith