Weekly updates:


Weekly updates

I first discovered Ryan Hemsworth and nearly missed the bus I was trying to catch in LA. Charly Wingate came on shuffle from a mixtape that some dude I’d met at a backpackers had given me while I was on a Low End Theory pilgrimage through the mean streets of Broadway North. I kept hitting repeat over and over again, oblivious to anything around me. With the stuttering bass line and dark chorus of ‘Only money, music and family are important to me’ – I was hooked.

Hemsworth knows when to bring in and out the snappy percussion, knows when to deepen the bass, knows when to fade out the vocals into a loop of auto-tuned ‘ohs’. He knows how to evoke a perfect reaction. Some of the best producers seem to forget something amidst all that technicality – how the song actually sounds. This is not the case with Hemsworth.

Ryan Hemsworth makes music for the music lover. You could be into pop, trap, chillwave, hip-hop, Tumblr-wave-house or whatever, but Hemsworth splices it all into a three-minute mp3. His latest EP Still Awake captures all those elements with a coy melancholy and a sense of humour that is apparent on his Pokémon-themed Twitter. It’s this very sense of being of-the-moment that makes Hemsworth’s music so different to the army of young producers that sprung out of bedrooms and basements around the time that Hudson Mohawk got Kanye West on stage, or, realistically, long before. Hemsworth, who is now 23, was a music writer before being a producer. (I remember reading his thoughtful interview with Nosaj Thing before I’d ever written a blog post.) From the sleepy-sounding Halifax in Nova Scotia, he suddenly blew up with his Twitter charm and a mixtape series he’d concocted for various niche labels. With only 500 fans on Facebook, which is somewhere between musical obscurity and promise, he played a series of shows across Australia, including one at a burger shop just down the road from my house. Watching his beanie bob up and down from the back of the room, his live set was energetic and bass-fuelled. Thanks, Astral People!

Random pictures from Ryan Hemsworth’s instagram with Antwon Nature and some puppies.

His back catalogue ranges from remixing boy-bands to producing for up-coming rappers, to his own WEDIDIT release of Last Words last year, and his EP – that it should be noted was sent to me in a 2.00 am text from a pretty excited friend – is a more mature version of his particular blend of ‘internet music’. His music really has more soul to it than anything this fun should rightly have. Beginning with the rave-come-down-nostalgia of Empty Thoughts Over A Shallow Ocean that invokes images of wide-eyes playing a Gameboy trying not to sleep, already the EP has more of a sense of belonging and personality to it than some of his earlier tracks. All skipping beats and high-hats, the songs fades out just as you’re trying to put your finger on where you put that Valium.

The call-and-answer samples of undiscernible voices of Perfectly are overhead on that same laser-lit dance floor, like a memory of a blurry night where two friends have just hooked up in a haze of chemicals and drinks. The playful melody skips between something reminiscent of an old Blink-182 album and kitschy electronica.

(。) (or, I Want To Stare At Your Face Until I Die) is a modern day sonnet. Hyperbole and emoticons are more effective than a poem, in case you’re wondering. The only way I can describe this – aside from the word ‘romantic’ – is ‘colourful’. All delicate rhythm and crisp sounding bass work together perfectly for the beat love letter.

The rest of the album is Hemsworth at his most introspective and melancholy, from the slow burn of Mistakes To Make and the mysteriously titled track five (crashed) until All Our Thoughts Are Physical steps it back up with the haunting vocals and clicky drum beat. The last track is a remix of Perfectly from up-and-coming Japanese producer Taquwami whose rework adds a soothing edge to the song.

Overall, Still Awake is a focused approach to Hemsworth’s particular sound. It’s not overlaid with too many samples or over-produced but instead strikes at those late nights on a dance floor and at early mornings at home with someone you care about. Or even someone you’re thinking of while you’re ‘still awake’. For a guy who sweetly includes a thankyou note in the download of his EP, his music has matured, and is still very much, for anyone who wants to listen.

Download over at ryanhemsworth.com or stream here.

Also, we just found out you can buy a large Ryan Hemsworth poster for your bedroom right here.