“Making Canada Cool” — An Exclusive Interview with Producer Ryan Hemsworth

Photo by Sean Berrigan

Ryan Hemsworth produces music because, “We all want Canada to be seen as cool someday.” “All” might be a bit extreme, but for those who do want to see Canada as a haven for hip, Hemsworth is taking his home country one step closer. His debut EP Last Words, released through We Did It, drops today and just one year after graduating college, he’s got himself on the map.

The 22-year-old’s music-career began in junior high when Hemsworth picked up a guitar and drums, even dabbling in a bit of singing. Thanks to a hip-hop inclined cousin, he started listening to Wu-Tang, “It kind of just blew my mind. The grittiness of it all,“ he says. Now, however, he refuses to give his music a genre. Not trap (the sub-genre of the moment) and not hip-hop, saying he gets inspiration from a range of musical styles, each track influenced by a different mindset and sound. One day R&B, the next gritty trap, the one unifying factor being a library of samples because, for Hemsworth, “The risk of making five really weird, fairly different tracks [is more worthwhile] then just five tracks that sound identical.”

The soft-spoken producer’s music seems to match his personality. The sound is closest to “chill-trap,” and Hemsworth himself is laidback and airy, but captivating. “I usually put way too much into it so I have to backpedal and delete crap,” it’s that control and understanding that makes each song feel complete and perfectly well-rounded. Listen to “Charly Wingate” and you’ll understand how each song comes full circle. No overwhelming bass or extra samples, it’s the perfect sound to play when you just want to zone out and forget the world.

But Hemsworth won’t settle with chill, when he can get edgy. His ideal musical partners are Danny Brown, Gunplay and Kenrick Lamar aiming to mix that airy feel with some aggressive rappers.“Slurring” from Last Words samples a skit from a Gunplay mixtape, five seconds of Soulja Boy, a freestlye that one of the Main Attrakionz recorded over a cell phone and Hemsworth’s own guitar.  He’s open to everything from Lil B (he made an entire mixtape of Lil B remixes) to sounds from video games to Radiohead. It’s a little bit of everything, but overall that’s Hemsworth, “It’s kind of just like recycling memories and stuff that I grew up on.” Sit, listen and lose yourself in the brain of Ryan Hemsworth.

Last Words out now.