Ryan Hemsworth played Vancouver’s Fortune Sound Club last weekend (November 29) in support of his new album Alone for the First Time, which came out on November 4. His career-spanning set featured many of the tracks from Alone for the First Time as well as 2013’s Guilt Trips and remixes from his various other projects.
Ryan Hemsworth shares inspiration for his latest album
Ryan Hemsworth released his critically acclaimed new album Alone for the First Time in Canada on November 4th ahead of a series of live dates across North America in November.
The follow-up to 2013’s Guilt Trips, which won the 2014 Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year finds the young Canadian producer taking a risk that must feel like striking out on his own for the first time, as one of the most exciting electronic artists in the world right now.
Hemsworth describes the new album as an amalgamation of his experiences over the past year of travelling and playing shows. “[It’s] the feeling of moving from one place to another and missing people,” he said in a phone interview from his hotel room in Chicago last week.
“I’m used to playing clubs, and people coming out on a Friday night are expecting to dance,” he said about the relatively quieter new material. “It’s scary to play a show in those kinds of venues and not have people dancing.”
It seems to be working, though, and Hemsworth said he’s had a lot of good reactions from people who have been coming up and talking to him after the shows.
“I’ve had a lot of emails from people saying it meant a lot to them and even people who are going through breakups that email me saying it’s good music to get over that stuff to,” he said.
If the new record feels more personal, it’s because that’s what comes naturally to Hemsworth. “I grew up on Eliot Smith and Bright Eyes,” he said about his influences. “They wear their hearts on their sleeve.”
He describes the project as a smaller LP or a bigger EP. “I wanted to make something that people can put on and not have to devote an hour to,” he said. “It’s just kind of getting lost in it for a half-hour.”
Hemsworth is well known for his love of Japan, and is one of a few Canadian artists at the forefront of the recent crossover of Japanese music into Western culture in North America.
“I’ve been following music all around the world for a long time but Japan for some reason has been a huge interest of mine,” he said. “[There are] a huge number of amazing producers coming from there who I think because they’ve grown up on different music are this kind of melting pot of what they’re hearing coming from America and what they’re used to.”
He would argue that this fusion only makes it all the more interesting for North American listeners, and tries to replicate some of these ideas in his own work. “”Blemish” is filled to the brim with sounds and weird little things that I’ve picked up,” he said. “Musical artifacts.”
Hemsworth’s recent travels to Asia inspired the music video for “Snow in Newark,” the lead single from the new album, which was shot in Nepal.
“For my last album, the track “One for Me” we shot a video in Montreal and at the time we had sort of the plan to make a two-parter video, the second half I think what “Snow in Newark” ended up being,” he said.
If “One for Me” shows how Hemsworth used to function as a travelling musician, “Snow in Newark” imagines him “retiring from music and searching for something else in the world.”
“I’ve been going back and listening to a lot of Saddle Creek records,” he said. “The band Cursive is definitely one of the main ones I listened to in the past half-year while working on this.”
What’s next for the 24-year old producer?
“I’m hoping to make a side-project type thing with a producer, a buddy of mine named Lucas who I’ve put out on my Secret Songs label,” he said.
“I’m definitely going to keep collaborating a lot more, that was probably the most fun part of working on this album, was just reaching out to people with really different kinds of voices and production styles, so that’s what I’m really enjoying creating nowadays.”
Ryan Hemsworth plays Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver on November 29th
Following suit from Thom Yorke, Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth has shared a digital box set of his entire discography called Hemsworth Country as a BitTorrent Bundle. The compilation includes 2011’s Distorted with rapper Shady Blaze and 2013’s Still Awake EP, available as a free download here. That’s the album art above.
The release comes a week before Hemsworth’s Alone for the First Time, out November 4. Watch the video for the Dawn Golden-featuring “Snow in Newark” below: