By: Chantel Ouellet
Photo Credits: Russell Canceran
Harrison is a Toronto-based producer who recently opened up for Ryan Hemsworth on his Secret Songs Canadian tour. They played at The Hoxton on Friday, May 27, along with RYAN Playground. Harrison is highly regarded in the local music scene, but he has yet to release his first LP. His first EP, Colors (2015), is both playful and creative, while still delivering strong musicality.
I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Harrison prior to his show. I was super nervous going into the interview because I will admit, I’m not well-versed in the world of producing, but I figured the only way to learn is simply by asking.
Harrison started out by emphasizing the current surge in popularity of songs without lyrics. When I asked if he thought lyricless music is only a more recent thing, he refuted that by explaining that jazz music can be largely instrumental, and that the history of instrumental music is much more complex than what we are currently seeing with producing and EDM.
Then he quickly explained the gist of music production to me, saying that the trick to producing your own music, like any craft, is to “discipline yourself to practice, it doesn’t just sound good immediately.” He recommends that people looking to enter into producing learn about sound structure and that they focus on the elements of creating a song. One of the most important things is honing your ability to create a song in completion. He told me that the hardest part of making a song is “learning about making a song from beginning, to the middle, to the end.” The computer aspect is easy to figure out if you do the research and practice, but the ability to string a song together in a cohesive way is what takes time and talent. Harrison was very clear that he in no way condones torrents, but he explained that “many of [his] friends have just a computer.” There are ways to make it work and to get into producing even as a young person on a budget.
Prior to interviewing Harrison, I had read that earlier in his career he had an issue with stage fright. I wanted to learn more about this because we often forget it in regards to artists we respect. Harrison explained that his stage fright was “very bad.” He said, “ I would get very anxious [and] I didn’t want to play half the time. I didn’t want to get judged.” He continued, “I [still] get scared but now it’s because I don’t want to fuck up.” He explained to me that there is “a little bit of an ego with every big city.” When discussing breaking into the Toronto music scene he said “the shows I wanted to enter wouldn’t fuck with me until I got some big numbers.”
This brings us to why we were interviewing Harrison in the first place, in preparation for his show at The Hoxton. Harrison and RYAN Playground opened up for Ryan Hemsworth, with Harrison starting the show at around 10 p.m. The crowd filed in slowly, but they were sure to break the ice and started dancing to Harrison’s killer set. By 11:30 p.m., Harrison had gathered a crowd that was bumping.
RYAN Playground went on around 11:45 p.m. RYAN Playground is a Montreal-based producer and DJ. At The Hoxton, she stood out with her infectious stage presence and energy, which managed to have the entire club turning the fuck up. She gave the crowd exactly what they were craving—sample songs like Drake’s much-loved “Know Yourself” and Fergie’s “Glamorous.” The best-received sample, however, was definitely her remix of Blink-182’s “All The Small Things.” Her set ebbed and flowed, transitioning from grimy, grind-inducing songs to hyped beats that had the crowd jumping along.
Ryan Hemsworth joined RYAN Playground for the last few minutes of her set. By this time the entire club was a sweaty sauna. Ryan Hemsworth’s set was an odyssey in which he seamlessly journeyed from whimsically, airy beats to dark and layered industrial ones. He notably remixed Breakbot’s “Arrested” and Cassie’s “Me & You.” The crowd at this point was overwhelmed by a combination of Dudebro’s and City Bitties (myself included). Everyone fell into one of two categories when it came to dancing: either you were the too-cool-stoic-headbobber, or you were busting out the hottest rave-approved moves with no regard for the people around you.
A little before 2 a.m., Hemsworth brought out this super-edgy drum track, which was equal parts tribal and industrial. It reminded me of a dirty club version of the song “Trashin’ The Camp” from Disney’s animated film Tarzan—like it, but on a pharmacy’s worth of designer party drugs.
Ryan Hemsworth, RYAN Playground, and Harrison put on a phenomenal show. Harrison’s set was awesome, and we are excited to see what is next for this up-and-coming Toronto producer.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-arts/harrison-hemsworth-and-the-hoxton/.