Ryan Hemsworth Steals Hearts

Last night, Dave, Jess, Julia and I caught four sets in one night at The Opera House. It was all about young Canadian talent, and some electro-feels to warm us against the cold November night.



We got to The Opera House as Toronto producer deebs was playing his set, and the venue was just starting to fill up. He’s a new one to me, but a great find for the week.

If you like a lush, drawn-out, ambient-electronic vibe, you will probably be into his Songs4UByMe EP, which is available for listening or as a free download on SoundCloud:

I know he’ll be first on my list tomorrow when I’m in the office looking out at a grey skyline dotted with grey skyscrapers, thinking grey Monday thoughts. His “Morning Sun” might help assuage that grey feeling a little.



Harrison was up next, another new one for me and another Toronto producer. Guess I should stick around this city for a while, since there’s so much great music to see here! He was a little chattier, and got us more hyped up by saying the words, “Ryan Hemsworth” into the mic a few times. His set was more upbeat, hip-hoppy and hip-pop, if that is a thing that has not yet been coined. “Like video games” might be the best way to describe this sound.

Here’s a sample of Harrison’s sound, called “Down, B, Up, B” (a title that is really like video games, for those not in the know):

If the dulcet tones of Yoshi eating things and jumping mixed in with super happy electronic beats is not your thing, then don’t click that play button. (But really, you should probably just do it.)



How can you mix serious talent with straight-up adorable? Just look at these two – Luke and Tess from Edmonton are Tennyson. Luke got on stage and said, “This is my sister, Tess!” to introduce the shyly grinning girl with braids sitting at the drum kit. There were cheers and melting hearts all around. They had us before they even played a note.

Drums, synth and other magic make their sound like new-funk, with touching lyrics and a bit of a wandering electronic future beats kinda thing. (Don’t hire me to write your descriptions unless you like a lot of vague adjectives sprinkled in there indiscriminately, yeah?) Luke danced up a storm, clearly enjoying himself, and Tess is basically the best ever, drumming like mad and turning to her brother often to make sure they were on the same page.

Tennyson’s “You’re Cute” is a great example of the genre that I am failing to describe. It sounds like video games falling in love:

And if you like on-stage charisma, these kids have it. I was completely engrossed in their performance, and it was the perfect set to see right before the main dude who we all came to fall in love with, Ryan Hemsworth.


Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth
Ryan Hemsworth

I first saw Ryan Hemsworth almost two years ago, when he was just a shy kid from Halifax in a grey hoodie dancing around to his music in Wrongbar before Daedalus played. He didn’t say much, he was lanky and awkward, and he completely stole my heart. Since then, he’s exploded on the Canadian music scene, and he’s been touring around the world as well – Laur saw him at a music festival in Hamburg in August.

And Ryan Hemsworth has grown so much as an artist since my first (few hundred) listens of his EPs No Plans and Kitsch Genius. Listen to “Snow in Newark” if you want to feel the way The Postal Service made you feel those rainy nights back in 2004 and you were listening to “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” on repeat and wondering why being 19 was so hard (or, you know, whatever you were thinking):

He has lots of happy stuff too. His music also sounds like video games a lot of the time, which you can hear in “Cream Soda”:

The stage was really dark for his set, so we could only see a lanky frame wearing a jersey and some flashing rainbow lights. There was a cool light-up spinny thing to the side as well. His sets may be fancier now, but he is still that lovely shy kid from Halifax dancing around up there, and we all (all of us Maritimers, that is) felt that awesomeness shining through.

Never change, Ryan Hemsworth!



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