If you have listened to Ryan Hemsworth’s 808s-laden, Southern and Bay Area-inspired production, you have probably had a tough time narrowing down where the 22-year-old musician hails from. I mean, dude has made a name for himself through his solo work and collaborating with guys like Shady Blaze and Deniro Farrar, who reside in Oakland, Calif. and Charlotte, N.C., respectively.
As for Hemsworth, he calls Halifax, Nova Scotia home. But thanks to the Internet — mostly Mediafire and email — he’s been able to collaborate with some of the biggest names in cloud-rap. He also garnered the attention of one of his favorite artists, Grimes, and has continued to establish a rabid fan base itching to hear his next meticulously crafted instrumental filled with choice samples, P.A. system-crushing bass, and neck-severing drums.
We recently had a conversation with Hemsworth about his approach to producing, where his career is headed, and the difference between recording for himself versus putting together a beat for someone else. Read it below.
Describe your production style for everyone who hasn’t heard it yet. I know this might be difficult considering how much your approach changes.
Yeah I definitely take a different approach depending on my intentions. If I want to make a beat for someone I’m probably going to listen to their catalogue a bit and figure out what bpm range they sound best at or seem to enjoy the most. But from the confusion that I’ve heard about my style I think it’s probably just because I don’t follow too much of a pattern when creating beats. Like, I’ll probably always incorporate 808 bass and high hats, but other than that, one beat might be 140bpm with some Luger aggression to it, the next may be 120bpm and pretty soft. Long story short, I guess my style is a little Animorph-y, I like adapting to any changes I need to for the circumstances I’m put in, but chances are the bass will be pretty big and the snare will hit as hard as I can make it.
What was the first song you heard that made you want to start producing? What about it made you feel that way?
Either the gritty ass RZA production from Enter the 36 Chambers, or To Record Water For Only Ten Days by John Frusciante. Both opened my eyes to the combination of simple drum programming combined with powerful sampling / instrumentation. The dancier shit came later but yeah, at first it was definitely just getting into the basics of ’90s rap + the white dudes trying to keep up with that stuff.
Do you favor samples over original material or the other way around?
Pros and cons to both. It’s hard for me not to use samples though, not so much for lack of ability but just, I love sampling shit and pulling rabbits out of hats whenever I’m able to. Without playing too much on nostalgia, I just love chopping up old stuff we grew up on and bringing it into the light at a different angle. But then… When people want to properly release your stuff, it’s a pain in the ass to try and work around samples. Which just pushes you to try and be more sneaky about the samples, basically. Sampling and original instrumentation will always go hand-in-hand with music for me – it just feels really natural at this point, I love building off of other peoples’ masterpieces – whether it’s some song from a Sega Genesis game or three seconds from a Juicy J mixtape intro, whatever.