McDonald’s boxes and bags are piled up on the hotel room table in front of Ryan Hemsworth and Kaytranada. At 23 and 21 years old respectively, the two Canadian producers have, somewhat inadvertently, become ambassadors of the Soundcloud generation. Through the process of connecting with thousands of fans the world over via their personal digital channels. But right now, they’re just trying to down a quick dinner and catch some rest before tonight’s double-bill show – a process that’s being hindered by both the constant jack-hammering on the street below, and my persistent questioning. Between mouthfuls of cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets, we spoke about transitioning the URL into the IRL.
The internet has played a huge role in kind of bringing both of you to where you are right now, how has that affected what you’re doing now with music?
H In my circumstance it’s played a pretty huge role. It’s given me the opportunity to get out of my city. I mean otherwise I really wouldn’t really have that much [of a] chance to do what I want to do so. It’s kind of filled in all the blanks that I needed to [in order to] become a musician.
K It helped everything, ‘cause without the internet, we wouldn’t be here. Honestly, it’s sort of saved our lives, you know? The type of music that we play, the internet makes people discover how good it is over there in Montreal, how good it is over there in Australia…
H It just makes you realise that there’s a lot of similar people everywhere.
In the last couple of years appreciation for production-focussed music seems to have exploded in the mainstream. Why do you think that happened?
H There are a lot of factors. I always think of Lil B and Clams Casino, and how people started to focus on Clams in the producer role. When he started putting out those instrumentals, I think that definitely shifted the roles. It just made people realise that producers are just as important as the rappers.
K It’s like people were sleeping on producers back then. It was about time for us producers to be out the front, you know?
So how would you describe your own music, as producers?
H I never really know how to describe my own, I guess I try to make more R&B leaning, electronic music, that’s kind of dreamy. I think Kay is amazing because he can do anything. He makes a lot of really funky shit and house shit and trap shit, but it all works so well.
K Sort of hip-hop, but denser – you’re not just going to bob your head to this shit, you’re not just going to listen. It’s going hypnotise you and make you fucking dance. Then you add a little salsa, some ‘80s R&B, a little disco in there too.
So Kay, how would you explain Ryan’s music to his grandma?
K Ryan does a lot of complex things – so you can’t define one sound, which is good. It’s cool when a producer is versatile like that. I can’t explain… it’s really good that you can’t describe the sound.
How was is it making that transition from making stuff at home and putting it online, to playing live and having that face-to-face interaction with the music?
H It’s been a good learning experience for me. Every show kind of seems to make more sense. I was never really intending to play shows up until a few years ago. I was always like, “I want to be a producer, I want to stay focused on making stuff.” But then eventually people will want to see you play.
K It’s cool to play for people who want to see you, to make young crew go crazy. I don’t know… It is awesome to play whatever I want to play and see people get into it.
What genre are you sick of being told you fit into?
H Trap. It makes sense, I use a lot of sounds that are classified as trap and a lot of my stuff can be semi-EDM. I listen to rap and whatever – I understand it, but it’s the most limiting name to give something.
K People think that I’m doing like deep house. The house stuff is just one part of it. I do trap too, I do that hip-hop stuff too.
What track always kills it when you’re playing live?
K When I play my Teedra Moses or my Flume remixes. People go like “Argghhhhh!” It’s cool though, you know. It’s kind of wild.
H Whenever I play Kay’s Missy Elliott remix it always goes off.
What works for you? What gets you the most hyped up, but may not necessarily translate to the audience?
H My Backstreet Boys remix. I haven’t played that on this tour yet though. Maybe I’ll bring it out tonight. That usually works, I think just ‘cause it’s ridiculous.
K Ah, fuck I don’t know. When I play Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison, it’s sort of weird the way I mix it. Sometimes the crowd gets it and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s just crickets – no response, and I’m like “Okay, fuck it, never mind.”
So what’s the biggest party you’ve played at?
H This random Spring Fling show I played before Kendrick Lamar at Wesleyan University. But it was the worst show I’ve ever played. The sound kept cutting out, and it was just all bros in tank tops. They were clearly not down for me.
K Every time I’ve been to Paris it’s been a crazy show. I saw people crowd surfing to my Janet Jackson remix, which don’t make sense. How do you crowd surf over an R&B track?
You guys both have pretty dedicated fans, what’s the biggest fanboy moment you’ve been on the end of?
H One dude I met in Manchester gave me a little Pikachu doll, and when he was handing it to me his hand was like, trembling. He was like “I brought this for you.” I just tried to make him realise that I’m not special.
With thanks to Brown Bear Entertainment
Catch Ryan Hemsworth alongside Wave Racer at The Corner Hotel on March the 5th