Ryan Hemsworth


Ryan Hemsworth makes the kind of hip hop beats that have a lot of really fast hi-hats and snare drum fills over spaced-out synths to accompany a night of cough syrup abuse, if you’re into things like that. And although it may seem like the kind of music you would make if you’re from New Orleans or some other place in the southern US, he actually lives in Halifax, Canada. It was a bit of a hassle to arrange the interview, as he’s currently touring through Norway, so we just sent him some questions via email, to which he kindly responded. He’s nice like that. 

Interview by Koen van Bommel, artwork by Enno Swinnen


‘I don’t think I’m worthy of being a mentor. I’m still always learning myself.’



Hi Ryan! So, I just looked up Halifax on Google Maps, and took a virtual stroll to get an idea of the place. It seems quite beautiful, but also probably pretty isolated from the rest of the world. Can you tell us a bit about growing up there?

‘My neighbourhood was pretty normal, middle class-ish I think. I was always, like, five minutes away from my schools and friends and stuff. It was nice having everything close. Easy growing up, I guess! Making music and stuff was definitely interesting to me because I guess it was just something different from what was going on around me. I never liked sports or school and I’m pretty out of touch with real-world issues.’


I’ve found that remote places tend to have these close-knit scenes. Are there a lot of different scenes in Halifax? Which one did you belong to, if any?

‘Yeah, there definitely were a lot of different little scenes where I grew up. But now that I’m travelling more I’m realising they weren’t as polarising as in a lot of major cities. When I was in school I was friends with weird kids, smart kids, dumb kids, poor kids, rich kids. I like having friends, it’s great to hang out with different people all the time. I would get tired of hanging around someone like myself quickly, I think.’


When you were growing up, who were the kids you looked up to and why?

‘My older cousin Matt had the best horror movies and played in a cool band and let me borrow his Radiohead CDs, he definitely got me on the right track. It’s lucky if you can have someone help you figure out stuff without wasting too much of your youth making mistakes.’


‘When I was in school I was friends with weird kids, smart kids, dumb kids, poor kids, rich kids. I like having friends, it’s great to hang out with different people all the time’



How did you get into making beats? Was there someone to help you out, or did you do it all by yourself?

‘Yeah, I guess producing and making beats was a solo venture for me. I didn’t have any friends in my city who I talked with about this stuff. I’d just go home after school or whatever and work on stuff as much as I could until I had to do homework. I’ve always liked locking myself away like that.


Do you ever take the role of a mentor to other (young) kids? Like, hook them up with sick plug-ins or software and stuff?

‘Ha-ha, I always try to get back to people when they have questions about making music. I didn’t have many people to give me answers when I was starting out so I know anything helps when you’re trying to teach yourself production and stuff. I don’t think I’m worthy of being a mentor though. I’m still always learning myself.’


One other thing: I saw you studied journalism. Did you by any chance intern at a local newspaper? What do you think of the role of local newspapers in building/sustaining/nurturing a community or scene? What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong?

‘I wrote for a local paper, like an alternative weekly one that focused on arts and community. I had a lot of fun just writing about weird little local bands and stuff and trying to interview people. I think local papers have been important for a long time, but obviously things have been changing for a while. Popularity is focused online; I know at least in my city the local free papers and stuff are more for people commuting or on a work break, stuff like that. I think it’s just hard to find ways to combat data plans and iPads and laptops now, y’know? You just have to offer the most local, fresh stuff as possible really and hopefully create a buzz in your city. Offer something that the sites people go to can’t, whatever that may be exactly.’



We’re bringing Ryan Hemsworth to De Verdieping, TrouwAmsterdam on 7 June together Plafonddienst. Supporting the Canadian Prince are Kami Kapnobatai and Know VA – free for Subbacultcha! members.