Ryan Hemsworth is the most relevant #sadboy producer in the electronic world right now.
From his downtempo beats to his emotional online identity, he has single-handedly reinvented the music trend of emo, and created something powerfully melancholic in the electronic music scene. Although his online persona may seem like he sits alone at his computer and finds other sad tracks at 2am every single morning, his real life personality is almost the complete opposite.
Ryan Hemsworth is a rather enigmatic creature, who although goes to shows alone, is ultra grateful to every fan that comes up to him, smiles excitedly when talking about an artist he’s a fan of, and genuinely is trying to make the music world a much better place. We caught up with him in Austin at SXSW, during his ‘Shh Secret Songs’ showcase; a SoundCloud profile started by the musician to highlight tracks of underground bedroom producers, which basically turned itself into a low key label with some of the most intelligently produced music on SoundCloud to date. We chatted about his most recent EP Snow in Newark, his label, and some semantics revolving around free streaming websites.
What were some of your favorite records listening to growing up?
Hmm, probably one of my favorite records is Meadowlands by The Wrens, or, I don’t know I also listened to a lot of Bright Eyes on Fevers and Mirrors era.
How did you decide who to work with for your new album? I’ll say a name, and you tell me how you got connected with them.
Lontalius – I’ve known him for like three years; I found him on SoundCloud making like, Drake covers and stuff, so, I automatically was very into that, and I kept in touch with him and he’s just a very sweet guy, he has very good pop sensibilities and through online we just kind of talked.
Dawn Golden – I think I kind of found his stuff through Baths in LA, I think they’re just friends because I worked with Baths on my last album and on that track, and I just wanted to have someone who had that kind of Postal Service era voice, and he kind of has that, his voice seems nostalgic to me. We still work together a lot.
Alex G– I’m just like…well he’s like my favorite artist, I’m probably his biggest fan. So when I met him I was just really starstruck, but I feel like he is, well I don’t know about the next Elliot Smith, but he definitely has that timeless vibe to his sound, which is really rare in music right now. And again, I just reached out to him. I knew Orchid Tapes, which is the label that he’s on, and so just through them.
Kotomi and Doss – a friend from Belinda Butcher, the San Francisco band, just showed me her SoundCloud and, I mean generally didn’t have a huge following, but is just so smart with melodies. She could be a pop star for sure.
Dos is like a crazy mystical producer girl who doesn’t show her face anywhere in the world. And she like, doesn’t know anyone, but I’m very into that kind of person and just kind of tracked her down and started working with her.
Gtw & Little Cloud– Little Cloud is huge on SoundCloud and has a huge internet presence, but she’s pretty low key in real life. We’ve actually produced a bunch of stuff together and her sound just works. She’s very melancholic and, and I feel like we’re on a very similar wave length.
Gtw..I know Supreme Cuts from Chicago and they put me on to his stuff, I just really like him, he reminds me of that 90’s Chicago bounce music that was kind of R&B as well.
Where was “Snow in Newark” filmed, and can you talk a bit about what your experience was like on that trip?
It was filmed in Kathmandu in Nepal, and basically just, I shot my “One For Me” video in Montreal on no budget and basically wanted to make the second part of that. So, like taking me out of the whole DJ world and like, pretty much making me an alien in another place. I feel like on a personal level it was just crazy to be in this country where I was by far the minority, just walking around feeling out of place. I was there a week, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Food was amazing and I got to ride an elephant for an afternoon and just, stuff that like you know? Stuff you would never be able to experience anywhere else.
You’ve been using a separate account on SoundCloud called Shh, Secret Songs where you post new music from bedroom artists and music that’s unreleased, and it’s pretty much acting as a label now. You have a Secret Songs showcase going on inside, who has been some of your favorite people to come out of this project?
I was really happy to work with Tennyson, he got the ball rolling for me. I just really wanted to share his music somehow. This other dude, Lucas, is someone I’m really happy with and we are working on an EP together now, its just like…a way to start relationships and watch them grow.
Do people get really excited when you hit them up?
It’s not really like, trying to blow up their spot, but I’m trying to give them a little extra spotlight that maybe they can’t get on their own.
There are all these Soundcloud // music streaming issues going on right now, who or what is becoming monetized, artists making money, not making money, having to pay for rights or for uploads, if all fails and Soundcloud becomes a hassle, what’s your advice to bedroom producers?
Yeah, man, I don’t know. I’m waiting I guess. This is what happens with everything though! With MySpace or something, it just becomes something that someone needs to make an alternative for. I still really rely on SoundCloud so hopefully there are ways around it. Hopefully it just doesn’t stop working for us, it’s so hard to guess what will come of it. SoundCloud was free and direct to people, so how do you make that better? It will probably be something that’s very similar to the model and they won’t monetize it, and people will like it, then they’ll have to monetize it, and it’ll be a cycle. I mean, for bedroom producers, I don’t know, I guess just being present online and talking to people, not even for just for the sole goal of getting someone to post your stuff, but like, making friends and starting some kind of network of homies and what not.
Who is somebody on your journey of being a musician that has really impacted you?
Daedelus is definitely someone. He took me on my first tour I did and I was the first opener for him, and just watching how he played, how he interacted with people after the shows. He basically just says “hi” to everyone and is available. It’s so inspiring. Like if I’m a fan of an amazing artist like that and they actually talk to me its a feeling you don’t lose for a while.
Who is somebody you think we should keep our eyes and ears out for?
I guess… there’s this kid Dream Beach, and he’s a drummer of this super popular punk scream band, but he makes electronic music and, I think because he really understands structure, his music is really cool and all over the place. He’s definitely someone to watch out for.