Canadian DJ and electronic producer Ryan Hemsworth has spent the past month throwing parties across North America with Montreal’s Tommy Kruise for their Just Rap Tour, and they bring their second-to-last show to 1015 Folsom on June 26.
Specializing in sampling, the prolific Nova Scotian has released a wide variety of different content, which Ryan says keeps it interesting. His debut, full-length studio release, Guilt Trips, came in 2013 and won the Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year. A couple of weeks after releasing this record, he dropped a free mixtape full of remixes called ☺RYANPACKv.1☺. His dazzling re-imaginations of tracks by pop and R&B-inspired artists like Beyoncé, Disclosure, Lorde, Frank Ocean, and Tinashe have all garnered plenty of interest, but he’s also produced music for hip-hop artists like Oakland’s Shady Blaze and Deniro Farrar.
Last year, Ryan performed at Treasure Island Music Festival on the ocean-side stage with the blazing sun at his back and his sophomore record, Alone for the First Time, was also nominated for a Juno. So far in 2015, he’s elevated his game on the festival circuit with an impressive performance at Coachella on the Mojave stage and just a few weeks ago, shared follow-up ☺RYANPACKv.2☺.
Ryan’s biggest trick came last month when he dropped a new mixtape of purely rap songs and announced an 11-city Just Rap Tour with his bass-trap buddy Tommy Kruise. Just before starting his current tour, we asked Ryan about his recent transition to rap, video games, and his new six-track EP dropping sometime in August.
Who are your biggest electronic influences?
It’s funny…growing up and really getting deeper into music for me, I was really into more rock and I guess in high school I got into rap. I didn’t go to clubs until I was in University and playing at shows. I was a bit of a late bloomer in that regard.
People I look up to now are just my peers like Cashmere Cat, RL Grime and all those guys. They are able to command the stage and bring out a great show regardless of what people think about DJing in this day and age.
Who came up with idea to make the NCIS Ibiza video with Funny or Die and how did you get involved?
I’ve been in touch with Funny or Due for a while for whatever reason. It was in between Coachella weekends that we shot it. They scooped up any DJs they could. It was super fun to do. I was in that fake club for all the afternoon and got to wear a puka shell necklace. It was pretty tight.
Did you watch any artist sets at Coachella?
Yeah, I was trying to see as much as I could. I didn’t see too much on Sunday because I had to leave. It was really a bummer cause I wanted to catch Drake and all that. I saw Lykke Li playing on the same stage. It was something I really wanted to see for a a long time. I have been a fan of hers since high school.
FlyLo [Flying Lotus] is always tight, so I saw him. Lil B, which was really surreal to see him play at 3pm in the afternoon with the sun. It was extreme.
In a previous interview, you said, “Safety accessories are so painfully difficult to market or make seem cool, but ear plug people really need to crack that code.” Ever consider releasing your own earplugs or working with other artists to encourage them?
I would be very into that. That is definitely something I think about more and more at the shows I play. Leaving venues and my ears are ringing. It’s really not something you start worrying about until you experiencing effects.
I don’t think I’ve been hit too hard yet, but there’s definitely been a few days it’s been scary where the ringing doesn’t go away. It’s something nobody takes seriously enough. It’s not a sexy thing, but there’s got to be some way to make it cool.
We read that you like to watch horror films. What is the scariest one you’ve ever seen?
I think my favorite horror is Session 9. It’s just an early 2000′s mental hospital film. I really like psychological thrillers and stuff like that. I saw All Hallows Eve recently. [It has] an amazing soundtrack as well.
Since you’re also an avid video games fan, which console do you prefer: Xbox, PlayStation or Wii?
The newest thing I’ve got is a 360. I’m still playing that. I got a game the other day, this one called Eagle Within. It’s harder now. I definitely remember growing up and saying I’m never gonna stop playing video games and I’m never going to be an old person. Once you get into your 20′s, it starts getting a little more difficult to focus on that stuff when I’m thinking I could be working on stuff that can help me pay my bills or whatever.
Do you have any plans to make a Donkey Kong track?[laughs] I’ve definitely sampled a lot of stuff from Donkey Kong and Zelda. Used all the elements of those songs. I had this idea to hack either the first or second game for Super Nintendo and basically recreate the soundtrack with my own versions. That’s definitely something I’m still interested in. I just haven’t got around to it.
Have you ever toured in Asia?
Yea, Japan. I just got an offer last October to do Tokyo and two other shows out there. I went out for those and then stuck around for a week. It was amazing to be out there.
Why did you made the recent transition to rap?
I don’t know. For me, I’m always a bit indecisive. I like a little of everything. For this tour, I wanted to figure out some sort of theme that we could both rely on and not just have me playing Blink-182 remixes and then Tommy plays rap or something. It would be two completely different people.
Figuring out some way to have this fun club tour, that’s what it’s gonna be. Maybe next I’ll probably do an emo tour or something. I’m just all over the place. That’s what keeps it interesting for me.
What makes Tommy Kruise special to work with?
He’s just sort of this crazy person. Whenever someone is around him, he’s immediately their new favorite person. Last week, he came to Toronto, we were practicing for the shows and stuff. He chipped out his front tooth a long time ago and right before he came to Toronto he got a temporary cap. He went to bed one of the nights and swallowed the temporary tooth. The next day he was super depressed all day saying, man, I’m not gonna look as beautiful tonight for the show anymore. It was sad. Pretty much something like that happens to him everyday.
Your current tour is mostly rap, with surprise guests. Can you tease a few of the SF guests?
It’s gonna be different in every city for sure. For SF and LA, we’re definitely talking with a few Bay rappers right now. Don’t want to spill the beans or anything, but we’re definitely gonna rely on some Bay Area talent for the shows for sure.
Do you have any future collaborations in the works?
Yeah! I just finished an EP. I’m planning to put it out around August I think. It has some pretty sick collaborations with this dude Lucas from Seattle that I kind of found a while ago. We worked on a bunch of songs. It’s gonna be a six-track EP out at the end of the summer. That will be my next official release.