Ryan Hemsworth’s notoriety is underscored by his inclusion in Daedelus’ “Magical Properties Tour 4″ with Salva, Shlohmo, and D33J. Daedelus, over the course of a decade, has released a staggering number of LPs, EPs, remixes, and, relevant to Wednesday night, eccentric live setlists; Ryan’s inclusion on the bill merely fattens an already stacked lineup tomorrow night at U Street Music Hall.
I got Ryan on the phone while he was traveling:
First off I want to apologize that I’m not [famed Canadian interviewer] Narduwar calling you for this interview. I know you’d probably prefer that.
[laughs] It’s all good.
Have you had any good fast food recently?
We went to Popeyes the other night.
I notice you’re always tweeting that you’re using the WiFi at McDonalds or KFC.
Yeah, we just do shows and always end up at a place like McDonalds at the end of the night because it’s the only place open at 3 a.m. That’s what life is like on a tour.
Tell me a little bit about the guys you’re with. You’re all under the umbrella of WEDIDIT, right?
WEDIDIT is a couple of dudes from LA, like Shlohmo, D33J, RL Grime — I’m the only Canadian in the group. Right now we’re just a group of guys that are aiming to create our own label.
You released a ton of mixes from last year. For someone with such a prolific amount of mixing and distribution to the public were you or are you sever concerned it will be hard to make your mixes less fresh or novel? How do you tackle that?
Yeah I do have to think about those sort of things. One recent mix I made was more of something you sit down with and not really dance to. People aren’t going to hear any of that in the club. But yeah I definitely started realizing that people need to start hearing different things so that when they come to my show I have something new and maybe unexpected for them.
You’ve said elsewhere that you don’t use speakers or monitors, can you expand on that?
For mixing and mastering, some people have proper studio monitors. I’ve never really messed with that.
Has anyone, whether accurate or not, referred to you as a “trap artist.”
Oh totally. And it’s always hard to say whether that’s a mistake or not. I certainly have that sort of sound in some of my music and I’m influenced by certain trap sounds.
Can you touch on why some artists may be ambivalent about the word or genre title “trap.”
I think it’s now become what dubstep was becoming when it was losing it’s popularity. It’s more of a fad than it is something real to some people. It’s something really formulaic now — although there are certainly people that are doing creative stuff with it — but nowadawys someone can make a trap song in 20 minutes. Once sometime becomes easy to create, it gets oversaturated, just like the next sub-genre to appear, I’m sure.
Speaking of trap music, what’s it been like watching your friend Baauer blow up so big?
It’s amazing. I’m really happy for him that he can pay his bills and play shows all across the world. I’ve talked to him about the crazy success he’s been having and he’s stayed really level-headed, and I know people who take success the wrong way. But he’s still going, creating new music, staying motivated like he’s still got something to prove.
Do you have your own plans to make a viral video with one of your own tracks?
[laughs] No, not so much. That wasn’t even Baauer’s plan. He just made this great track and the Internet ran with their concept. “Harlem Shake” doesn’t quite mean the same thing after everyone on YouTube messed with it. When you’re trying to make your own meme… that’s cheesy.
For a while it looks like you were just remixing tracks that caught your fancy, but now you’re being approached by labels to rework pop songs. Do you have a different approach to your remixes now?
Yeah I would say these days there’s just more to consider when you’re working with a major label, and there’s more pressure to present a final product. But so far a lot of people have approached me for remixes and told me,”Just do what you do,” and they’ll let me work on things. There’s never been a situation where I’ve had to take notes from some PR person on a remix.
What’s your approach to making remixes? Your remix of Craig David’s “Fill Me In” has a little bit more tension, maybe a little bit more melancholy, than the original. Is the “tone” of the song that just happens organically or do you go in with a plan or let your mood determine your direction?
Yeah I definitely have a sort of mood in mind when I approach a song, and at the same time when I come out of the otherside of the remix it’s never the way I had originally planned it out. And the middle part is what I enjoy, when you get inspired, or hit blocks and come up with a creative solution.
You’re in the process of making an EP with Deniro Farrar, who has worked with you before. What can you tell me about that?
We’re in the process right now– well, actually there’s a lot of moving parts right now. I’m on the road and obviously can’t bring much with me in the way of production equipment. Hopefully in the next few weeks we can take the six or so tracks we have and get them out on Mad Decent as soon as we’re able.
How has your process of creating music changed the way you listen to music?
I still enjoy listening to music, but when you’re listening to someone else’s song, or even your own, and you’re trying to break down a sample for instance, you get in an analytic frame of mind and your intuition gives way to a more logical way of hearing things. Sometimes it’s really hard to turn off that part of your brain and enjoy music for what it is.
You’re working on a film soundtrack — a documentary — and you noted that you’ve sampled some film work before. What are some of your favorite soundtracks or scores?
The Akira soundtrack is one that I’ve taken a lot of little pieces from it. There are a lot of amazing little textures in it that you don’t hear in pop music because pop music and movie music obviously don’t have the same structure. In a film soundtrack there are often little nuances you don’t hear in other types of productions. I think part of the future of music is taking these elements that exist in their own little world and throwing them in as pop textures in your own music. And you’re not really appropriating them, you’re just putting them in a way that people can enjoy regardless of whether they spot the sample origin or not.
That’s similar to what Rustie did in his Essential Mix with all the Zelda: Ocarina of Time soundbytes, or Flosstradamus’ use of the PlayStation startup sound, and even Baauer has some video game samples in his music… Can we expect a “Tifa’s Theme (Ryan Hemsworth’s Final-Final Fantasy VII Club Edit)” any time soon?
[laughs] Yeah, I mean I’ve definitely been fucking with stuff from the Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger worlds, but lately anything I sample is a more obscure, which probably helps the legal aspect of things.
What can we expect from your live shows? Everyone sort of has their own distinct voice on your Magical Properties Tour.
Yeah, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it either. Samo [Soundboy] does a lot of great House music, D33J opens up the night with a lot of positive energy, and then I like to throw in a lot of rap and R&B and stuff I hope people are really into. And now we’re with Salvo on this part of the tour, who will play more of a club vibe, a little bit more hyphy [ed. note: Bay-area hip hop]. And by the end of the night you reach Daedelus, who is…
…All over the place
Yeah, exactly, but in a really good way. And in the end the whole night all fits together in this cool, unique way.
You’ve really blown up in the last year and a half. Are you getting more and more “I recognize you moments” from people?
Yeah, it’s cool, maybe also a little weird just to think that people want to take pictures with me at shows now. That’s something that happens more and more. A few weeks ago I had a fan come up to me after the show and give me a little Pikachu toy, and his hand was trembling a little as he presented it to me. That was probably one of the more surreal things that’s happened to me. I don’t expect stuff like that.
What Pokemon was your go-to when starting a new game?
I always chose Bulbasaur, because he had the advantage over fire and water in the first three gyms you got to.
Wow, sounds like you really know your stuff. I’m going to give you a Raichu doll when you’re in DC.
[laughing] No, I don’t play it anymore, I guess it’s just stuck in my head. I do play video games on the road though.
You seem to be in the pro-Drake camp, but there’s a large contingent of haters essentially because he’s not “authentic.” Do you think that that’s a valid criticism?
He’s such a tough person to talk about. Obviously he came from a background that isn’t like most rappers. But, minus his new song “Started From The Bottom,” he hasn’t had a typical rap persona, you know, he’s not rapping about being a gangster or a murderer. He makes a lot of emotional music, which I gravitate towards as well as in the songs where he knows his place.
I think that you and one of Drake’s main producers Noah “40″ Shebib’s have a somewhat similar production style. Is he someone that you study? You both have some great beats, not necessarily club bangers, with some sort of emotional thread running through the music.
I do admire his work, and some of the same synths he uses, some of the same sounds and moods, they’re the same ones I aim for, but I think that’s at a subconcious level. I’m never listening to his music and reacting to it, but it’s part of my listening history for sure.
A lot of people mention guys like Timbaland and Lex Luger when they talk about significant producers of the last decade or so. Are there any underrated guys you don’t think get enough love?
In my mind I always look to Timbaland, Neptunes, and Manny Fresh. Those guys set a lot of groundwork to the music that’s still being made today.
Who have you been listening to lately?
Cashmere Cat, a good friend of that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. [pauses to think] Yeah I don’t know, I hear about 10 million songs while I’m on the road so I’m always into new music but not really hooked onto just one guy.
If you were part of a, ahem, RAP GAME TRAVELiNG WiLBURYS, who would that include?
It would have to include some Westcoast guys, like E-40, who are still putting out albums today, like, triple albums and shit like that.
One last question: Why didn’t Carrie deserve Aidan [ed. note: A popular sub-couple from Sex in The City]
[laughs] Um…I mean, because Aidan was the best dude. He wanted to take care of Carrie
He was going to pamper her! And she just dropped his ass. What the–
Yeah, I dunno, he was just “that dude,” and I liked him.
Cool, thanks for your time Ryan, see you in DC.
In the meantime, check out this set from La Machine De Moulin Rouge, recorded live for Red Bull Academy Radio before hi opening set for Salvo, Shlohmo, and Daedelus at U Street Music Hall on Wednesday, March 6.