Interesting would be the word to describe Ryan Hemsworth. Before dropping his solo debut Alone For the First Time, released last week, the 24-year old Canadian producer already had the charts and Joel Madden (more on that later) buzzing off the strength of his work with Diplo, Tinashe, Grimes and Frank Ocean. But with his own national tour stopping at The Sinclair tomorrow night (featuring an early DJ set from Durkin), he’s ready to step out on his own. We barraged him, politely, of course, with questions about his recent trip to Japan, the “imbalance” that touring musicians face, his new album, and his relation to a certain Norse God of Thunder.
In a recent interview, Japanese designer Yuichi Yoshi (44 years old) said he wanted to be you when he grew up. How do you look at the concept of fame since being leaving Halifax, CA all those years ago to pursue music?
It’s kind of crazy and I’m constantly trying to figure out why people like my music [laughs]. I’ve always been doing what I wanted to do and I’ve been doing it for a while. t’s been a long ride for me already. I think once I noticed people started slowly connecting to my music, things started to change. The weirdest thing though is when famous people say they like my music. For example, the other day I was in LA and Joel Madden from Good Charlotte was like, “Yo let’s get sushi, I want you to meet my wife Nicole Richie.”
Did you go?
Yeah it was the weirdest but coolest thing ever. A lot of random shit like that has been happening to me lately, which is pretty cool.
You just came back from Japan and that was something you were looking forward to for a long time. I was reading an article where you chronicled some of that experience. Was Japan everything you thought it would be?
Going into it, I had a pretty romanticized idea of what it would be like. Japanese culture has a lot more parts that interest me personally than most other cultures I’ve been exposed to. I got there at night right after a three week European tour. I was kind of jet-lagged and confused but as soon as the promoters who booked me for the Tokyo show picked me up from the airport, they took me to dinner and brought me to the place where Lost In Translation was filmed. They chose that spot because I tweeted a pic of that location a week or two before going. It was amazing because they tried to make me that happy coming straight off the plane. Things just function differently there. I also had a week off so that was amazing because I did everything that I wanted to do.
Is it weird that people follow you and see what you’re doing even if it’s to make sure you have a better experience when you come to town?
In a way yeah its kind of weird to have other people know stuff about you that don’t know you but again I think we’re all kind of used to it do to the nature of social media and how public our lives are. It’s just normal for society now.
You spoke on the concept of “imbalance” that you experienced as a touring musician. The average person looks at your life with some envy due to the traveling and lifestyle. After achieving this lifestyle, is this still what you want?
The funny thing is that I can very clearly remember thinking that if this ever works and I can travel to play shows, I’ll never complain, but it’s weird once you get into the position. I’ll still never complain about it but its crazy how the lifestyle becomes this wake up, go from Point A to Point B, staying out all night, getting drunk, waking up early and then repeating. Even the good is kind of bad. It’s cool because you make all these great friends in every city and I’ve made great friends in every country I’ve been to. The issue is that they’re friends for a night and then you take off and don’t see them again for a year or more. Stuff like that is weird and makes everything so impermanent with this lifestyle. You can’t really get attached to too many things.
Is it safe to say that imbalance feeling inspired your upcoming album title Alone For the First Time?
Yeah, I made it on the road over the past half year. I just made it all at airports and hotels with headphones on. The alone element is there but I also feel like it’s my most collaborative work as well. Doing some things in person and collaborating with all my friends over the Internet. It was a weird but fun balance.
Why did you give the people an early Christmas present when you released Hemsworth Country for free on Bittorrent?
I’ve always been about having free music on the Internet. Its what we expect as music consumers these days. I’ve been downloading music and movies since I was 12 years old. I still buy albums and vinyl but i think its good to have the option to do both. A lot of people will only be open to hearing my stuff if its free.
You’ve been posting people recreating your album cover on your Instagram account and it’s been pretty hilarious. What inspired the cover?
I shot that cover in London. I wanted to do my own version of the old Patti Smith black and white picture where she’s wearing the white button up. I just wanted to do something a bit classic and different. Some of the images associated with me are very cartoonish and bright. I just wanted to go with an image that’s more mature to match the music on this album that sounds more mature too. I am trying my best to keep everything cohesive.
Will that maturity also tie in to your upcoming tour? What kind of vibe can people expect?
I try not to be a normal DJ. My new tour will be a different than past ones for sure. I have a live set up now and new visuals. I found some really talented Japanese artists to work on some visuals for me and I am excited for people to see it. I’m trying to create a balance between making a fun party but having moments where people can take a step back and just enjoy being in the moment. I like having multiple tempos.
You’ve worked with various artists like Deniro Farrar, Tinashe, Qrion, and Wave Racer. What attracts you to new artists and music?
I spend a decent amount of time everyday on Soundcloud lurking to see whom people like and I try to find new stuff every day. Once in a while you come across something really good and you know it’s going to be great. When you work with the right person, things come together quickly and don’t feel that unnatural.
Chris Hemsworth plays Thor in The Avengers. Is there any relation and if you were a superhero, what would your power be?
I’ve looked at my history and I’m pretty sure he’s in a different Hemsworth family tree [laughs]. But as far as superhero, I would be Silver Surfer. He doesn’t have any weaknesses and he pretty much does whatever he wants.
RYAN HEMSWORTH W/ DURKIN, BLACKEDOUT AND KIINGS. THE SINCLAIR, 52 CHURCH ST., CAMBRIDGE. TUE 11.11. 8PM/$20/18+. ryanhemsworth.com