Interview by WXJM Music Director, Ross Figlerski
Ross: I know you must get this question a lot so forgive me, but how was growing up in Halifax? What is the music scene like there?
Ryan: It was pretty fine! I can't complain too much about anything, it's not like a big city or a cultural hub. Just chill, lots of universities so there's lots of kids. But not lots of cool venues or clubs for whatever reason. I stuck to playing video games with friends and sitting in my basement finding music on blogs, and recording myself. The city doesn't give much opportunities or have much of a following for electronic or weirder music. There's pockets here and there, and there's definitely people that care about it. But I felt like I had to leave to catch any attention. That's how it works for artists in a lot of cities like Halifax, I think.
Ross: Most people don’t know that you studied journalism in college and almost became a music journalist. Where do you see that side of your life with your recent success in music, if at all?
Ryan: Not sure! I studied journalism because I wanted to write about music. I've always preferred listening over talking haha and I guess the struggle is similar between music and writing. I just enjoy being around people and hearing their stories. My favourite pieces are always when an artist interviews an artist, maybe I'll do some producer vs producer features some time. That'd be fun.
Ross: What got you into the world of producing? Was it a friend, a certain artist, etc.?
Ryan: My older cousin Matt got me into guitar and on the right track with music, but it was genuinely the combination of being bored, being on my computer, and having enough quiet time to just start recording myself. And then I started playing with it and editing, I've always enjoyed Photoshop and messing with video in Final Cut, so I think an interest in editing lead to producing. It's all in the same realm.
Ross: Your new album Guilt Trips features a lot more live instrumentation compared to your previous releases. Why did you decide to do this? Also, what software did you use when creating the album?
Ryan: I use Logic on my MacBook to produce, edit and mix my music. I've started bringing back guitar and live instruments and some of my own voice into songs because club music can get really boring sometimes. Everyone has a laptop now, everyone has the same programs, the same VSTs, the same drum kits. So you've got to work harder now more than ever to stand out. Focusing on imperfections and mistakes is now my bag. This is what was always beautiful to me in music and I'm realizing now how important it is.
Ross: What made you decide to name your album Guilt Trips? Is there any meaning behind the name?
Ryan: The material was made mostly while on tour, away from home. I guess I get attached to people easily so it sucks when you can't see certain people for months at a time or whatever. Touring forces you to meet a million people and become friends with people for a night and then you don't see them again, so that's just the weird ups-and-downs I was feeling while working on this music.
Ross: You also have a lot of collaborations on the album. How did you meet up with Sinead Harnett and Lofty305? Also, how did you become friends with Kitty?
Ryan: Their parts were all recorded on their own, in their homes or at their little studios. I'm trying to just stay in touch with everyone I can when I'm on my computer. I just love to communicate like that and love that it's possible to keep up with a million people at the same time. Lofty's and Kitty's parts were both recorded on their MacBook microphones I think. I've heard some of the songs be called "lo-fi" and stuff, which is awesome to me. Because I grew up on The Microphones and Pavement and all that stuff that's like the pinnacle of lo-fi. I got to hang out with Sinead in London for a couple days and work on new stuff, she's a sweetheart and hilarious. Kitty's also a sweet pea.
Ross: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet you would like to collaborate with?
Ryan: Sia, Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World, Cornelius, Future, tons.
Ross: When making the album what musical influences came into play? More over, what music have you been listening to lately?
Ryan: Since working on that material, and the stuff I'm working on now, I'm kind of just going backwards with my influences. Listening to Sigur Ros and Beck again, emo stuff, just music that has textures and heart and sadness and love in it that you can feel. The biggest struggle with making music on a laptop is trying to convey those emotions, that's my goal.
Ross: How did your relationship with the Wedidit crew develop? Do you have any future plans coming up with them?
Ryan: Just through starting to talk with RL Grime a couple years ago, he showed my stuff to Nick Melons and Shlohmo, and we kinda grew from there. It's really a huge crew out in LA, outside of just the names you see on the website. Everyone is hilarious and good friends, makes me want to move to LA sometimes and get away from the cold for good. There's going to be lots of good Wedidit stuff happening this year, compilations, EPs, I'm excited.
Ross: You just finished up The Feelings Mutual tour with Cyril Hahn and over the summer teamed up with RL Grime, Baauer, and Jim-E-Stack for the Infinite Daps tour. You’ve been touring with some of the most creative people in electronic music. How did you find these experiences and do you have any favorite stories or memories from these tours?
Ryan: It's amazing and I'm lucky because they're all friends and great people. The tours all differ quite a bit musically, but being on the road with people like Jim-E Stack and Samo Sound Boy is a luxury because they're such honest, down to earth people. Touring can be exhausting in every way, mentally physically creatively, so it all comes down to who you surround yourself with. My absolute favourite tour moments are after the shows talking to people, and then going to a hotel or wherever we're staying and watching a shitty pay-per-view movie with Samo or one of those guys.
Ross: What could we expect from your upcoming Dogs Get in For Free tour? Is there anyone you’re bringing along with you? Will there be dogs?
Ryan: haha I'm worried/hoping that someone actually sneaks in their dog or something. I don't even have a dog as much as I really really want one, not home enough to give it the proper lovin' it would deserve. This is the first run of shows where I've had the freedom to choose everyone I play with in each city, and I'm going to bring some special guests to as many shows as possible. The supporting acts are all producers and DJs I just want to personally see live and think other people would love. And it's also nice to just have this freedom as headliner to do whatever I want, not having to cater to someone else's crowd. Scary and exciting.
Ross: Can we expect any new projects from you in the near future? Also do you have any plans on working on things outside of the world of music?
Ryan: I'm working on a new EP right now. Trying to let as much of my love for post-rock and shoegaze bleed into the new songs. Focusing on original stuff this year, chilling on the remixes a bit. Outside of my own stuff, I'm also just trying to figure out how to continue putting my friends on and artists who aren't getting the shine they deserve. I don't know if it needs to be a "label" because everyone has a label now, but I want to figure out something cool to just give out free, new music with a big platform.
Ross: I heard you travel with a stuffed Pikachu given to you from a fan on tour. What’s your favorite Pokémon? Also, do you mess with Digimon at all? Greymon was pretty cool.
Ryan: haha the Pikachu was from LIZ the Mad Decent artist. But I actually gave it away to someone in DC the last time I was there. Maybe they'll bring it back this time and I can hear about its adventures. Nah, I never really got into Digimon. Monster Ranchers was so tight though.