Release Date: Oct 22, 2013
Record label: Last Gang
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic
Toronto-based producer Ryan Hemsworth has been dubbed the ‘Remix Ryan Gosling’ for the way he coolly collides skittering trap with woozy chillwave synth. His pop bootlegs have positioned him as a full-on frat party DJ. Debut full-length ‘Guilt Trips’ continues to address this balance. Inspired by high-school cliques – and, by the sounds of it, a deep love of Donkey Kong – it flirts with breathy R&B (‘One For Me’ featuring Tinashe), ghostly Aphex Twin-isms (‘Happiness & Dreams Forever’) and intricate electronica that’s deeper than an episode of The Returned.
Guilt Trips is a surprising album, in a number of ways. Gone, for one, are the R&B leanings of his DJ mixes and EPs like Kitsch Genius and Last Words, in their place a beguiling mix of Hemsworth new and old. He remains fascinated by the bubbly, 16-bit marimbas and sparkling synths of Super Nintendo-era videogames, but has eschewed crowd-pleasing anthems in favour of something more personal, meaning the more ethereal, emotive Guilt Trips works as well in headphones as on club speakers.
In the growing body of writing about how disastrous millennials are supposed to be, people throw around phrases like “severely shortened attention spans” as an insult, but the twentysomething producer Ryan Hemsworth is proof that this assumed failing can, in fact, be a great strength. Over his short but industrious career he’s displayed an almost pathological inability to stick with any one particular style of music for more than a few minutes at a time. He’s remixed everyone from Cat Power to Waka Flocka Flame to Danish pop duo Quadron, and his DJ sets bounce nimbly between disparate styles: radio rap into ambient electronics, slick 90s R&B into aggressive dancehall.
There's something endearingly modest about Ryan Hemsworth—you feel like you know him just from reading his interviews and his Twitter account. This unassuming quality seeps into his music: the bootleg remixes with which he made his name are mostly gentle touch-ups rather than total reworks, and his original songs have been marked by a preference for warm, lived-in sounds (which has led to unfortunate tags like chill-trap). Now, after years of digital-only releases, Hemsworth has signed to Canadian big dog Last Gang Records for a full-fledged LP.
When it comes to dreamy productions that blur the lines between hip-hop, R&B, and indie pop, Ryan Hemsworth has plenty of competition in 2013, but his pedigree includes work with Main Attrakionz, Sole, and Quadron, so the Canadian DJ and producer must have something up his sleeve. Judging from all the cool, dreamy, and afternoon music on his debut album, that sleeve probably hangs off a sized-up and tastefully designed sweater as Guilt Trips is the audio equivalent, enveloping the listener in cozy and cool songs that are all welcoming. Getting lost in the pillowy "One for Me" is easy as vocalist Tinashe coos her way through the producer's cloudy soundscape, while the key track "Still Cold" with Baths feels like the Postal Service coming off a marathon Al Green listening session as it yearns and searches with an extra helping of soul.
Halifax-bred, Toronto-based DJ/producer Ryan Hemsworth has rapidly risen to fame, initially on the strength of his remixes (both authorized and bootlegged). In that forum, his wildly eclectic style is a strength, allowing him to take the approach that best suits the source material. On his first album, he applies that method to his own songs and employs a large cast of collaborators to constantly shift the mood.
The word most commonly used in reference to Ryan Hemsworth’s music is not an adjective – it’s Tumblr, a proper noun. David Karp’s social networking giant is used by all kinds of people and for a great many purposes, but Hemsworth, 25-year-old producer from Halifax, meshes with its usual calling cards (nostalgic imagery, life-affirming quotes) because he’s clearly paid attention to details. If there’s only one good thing about Tumblr, it’s that it opens up vast pools of information for its users, who then have all the freedom in the world to funnel the images and words into something aesthetic and cohesive.
On his way to becoming the Internet’s favorite DJ and remixer, self-described One Man Boy Band Ryan Hemsworth steadily shared a string of beat-based releases. His early work bounded between left-field hip-hop, technicolor dance music, and sullen downtempo and was equally likely to find him sampling Motown, Max B, or Mitsuda. Although he’s toned down the hyperactive tonal shift on recent EPs, his stylistic agnosticism is still apparent, as is the current of nostalgia that runs through his work; he named one Kitsch Genius, after all.
opinion bySCOTT SWANSON As Nas once said (or was it Ecclesiastes?), “There’s nothing new under the sun.” And so, it’s easy to spot the influences of Ryan Hemsworth. The bubbling analogue waves of Aphex Twin. The cinematic cool jazz of DJ Shadow. The wide-eyed electro-twee of the Knife’s early works.