Quarter-Life Crisis


The genesis of Ryan Hemsworth’s new project, Quarter-Life Crisis, can be traced all the way
back to his childhood bedroom in Nova Scotia, where the producer spent the bulk of his high
school years listening to emerging indie acts and playing guitar. Not loving the sound of his own
voice and without a band, he eventually started making music on his laptop, which earned him
accolades as he stepped out into electronic and club music scenes. His prolific output, paired
with a voracious appetite for a wide range of genres and creation of his own label Secret Songs,
has made Hemsworth a fixture since he released his debut solo album, Guilt Trips, in 2013.

But now, Hemsworth’s trying his hand at something unexpected that is nonetheless close to his
heart and origin story as a musician. Quarter-Life Crisis is a collaboration with various artists
who’ve come to prominence over the past couple of years, many of whom got their start playing
scrappy DIY shows. “This project has me in the process of going back to when I was a kid when
I’d sit down and play guitar for hours and come up with melodies and chords by just messing
around,” Hemsworth says. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for ages.”

The self-titled debut EP will be released on December 4th, 2020 via Saddle Creek and features
contributions from Frances Quinlan (Hop Along), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Charlie Martin
(Hovvdy), Yohuna, and Claud. It showcases Hemsworth in a new phase of his career, one that
is perhaps a bit less indebted to the nightclub dance floor. “It’s always been a goal to mix, like,
25% electronic sounds and 75% live indie rock sounds,” he says. Collaboration is paramount to
Hemsworth’s process, and though he produced all of the instrumentation on the album, he left
the lyrics and intention of the song up to the contributors. The resulting collection shapeshifts
from track-to-track, taking on new personalities as it moves between artists. “I think of my
music-making process as ‘sneaking in as a fan,’” Hemsworth says. “Quarter-Life Crisis is just
another way for me to work with artists whose music I really enjoy and listen to all the time .”

Though Hemsworth has been a working musician for a decade now, Quarter-Life Crisis has felt
like a wholly new experience. He recorded the tracks using live instruments, which he doesn’t
typically do, and for many of his collaborators the shift to performing without a band, or even an
instrument in their hands, was unfamiliar. For Quinlan, who sings on the arresting “Postcard
from Spain,” this was one of the only times she’s made music with someone outside of her
usual circles. “Recording with Ryan ended up being a really freeing experience to focus solely
on vocal melody, to play with where I could take what was already there, already strong on its
own,” she said.

Quinlan’s experience overlapped with that of the other contributors. Going into the studio almost
as a session artist gave Duffy the opportunity to alter their voice in a way they might not have
considered with a Hand Habits song. “Meg asked me to make them sound like Travis Scott,”
Hemsworth remembers, laughing. The hypnotic track, “Comfortable,” made Duffy think about “AI
and cyborgs” and “souls disassociating from bodies.” “I kind of just freestyled until a theme
started to swim up,” they said. For Hovvdy’s Martin, this was his first time ever writing lyrics to
accompany another artist’s work. “It was really exciting to hear [Ryan] meet me in the middle
style-wise. There are many hidden gems in the production of ‘Waterfall,’” Martin muses.

“Lyrically the song explores a parallel I’ve been feeling lately: the difficulty of understanding and
being understood and how sometimes that struggle almost mirrors the state of the planet. It’s
like a downward spiraling feedback loop where any optimism feels like a triumph.”

Working with musicians who largely fall into the category of “indie” gave Hemsworth the
opportunity to revisit some of the artists who inspired him to become a musician in the first
place. He cites bands like the Cardigans, Grandaddy, Bright Eyes, and Sparklehorse as being
foundational to his writing process this time around. Quarter-Life Crisis a sharp turn away from
his last project, 2019’s CIRCUS CIRCUS, which he made alongside the Japanese rap duo
Yurufuwa Gang, but for Hemsworth, working in a wide array of genres and modes keeps him on
his toes, and ultimately, keeps his career interesting. “Getting out of my comfort zone and
bringing others into that process has always led to something really unique,” Hemsworth says.
“As a producer, I really respond to other people’s ideas and whatever they can bring to a song.
Being in a room with someone with a different outlook, or working remotely with them, I
hopefully help facilitate something that feels new and exciting for both of us.”

Publicity Contact: Eloy Lugo


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