April Album Update

Hey friends,

It’s been 3 months since I entered anything into this blog, and oh how things have changed dramatically, even in that relatively short period.

The most immediately thrilling and relevant news is that I’m now co-writing and co-producing my album with my friend Colin Darcy. Colin is a multi-faceted musician with a really solid ear for music production of all different genres. I’m immeasurably excited to be working with him. He’s brought me closer to songwriting and the philosophy surrounding it than ever before. This album had been moving at a snail’s pace since it’s inception, and he’s already got the ball rolling quite quickly on some tracks. I’m eagerly awaiting to see what we can accomplish together. I think we are the perfect team to assemble my first full-length forthcoming album.

Aside from aiding my musical ambitions, Colin has really opened my mind to lots of other steps to make music into a career – something that my mind doesn’t often visit because of how much of a pipedream I see it as. I feel so arrogant if I remotely suggest to myself that this could be a full-time job. There are so many other great musicians struggling to make a buck – why me? I guess my answer is – as he’s encouraged, why not?

With this album, I’m aiming to marry the electronic sounds of synthesizers, drum machines, talk boxes, etc with the organic sounds of drum kits, guitars, vocals. As an interesting twist, inspired by Deru, I’ve been hypothesizing ways to make the inorganic sounds feel more like organic instruments and the organic sounds feel more synthesized. I want to explain my thought process here, but during the recording process, I’ll document it all heavily so other producers can take a crack at it if they like the sounds I’ve obtained.

Finally, to get in the right mood for this album, I’ve curated a playlist listening diet in iTunes to keep myself entertained by albums that inspire me – for sound reasons or arrangement reasons. Some of these albums include:

  • Currents, Tame Impala
  • Tremors, SOHN
  • Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails
  • Passive Me, Aggressive You, The Naked & Famous
  • Junk, M83
  • Phase, Jack Garratt
  • Audio, Video, Disco, Justice
  • Narrow Stairs, Death Cab for Cutie
  • Born in the Echoes, The Chemical Brothers
  • The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
  • Walls, Apparat

While I won’t share the album before it’s finished, put these albums on shuffle with each other and you might start to get the feeling as to where mine will sit.

 

Thanks as always. I appreciate you all very much,

Ryan

2016 Wasn’t So Bad: Debrief & Fav Albums

Hey friends,

In obvious news, 2016 has finally come to a close. I feel like the media Buzzfeed would have you think it was a shitty year, but I’ve heard a lot of people say it was an amazing year for them. I was no exception. My 2016 was full of great experiences, personal growth and refining myself.

When 2016 started:

  • I was awaiting surgery to repair a hernia I had suffered

  • severly allergic to all nuts

  • I lived in a dive of an apartment by myself

Now all of those things have changed:

  • I underwent successful surgery in March

  • I can now eat pistachios, pecans and cashews

  • I moved into a sweet new apartment in nice part of town

And on top of those highlight accomplishments, I bought my very first car; saw Radiohead (and more) at Osheaga in Montreal; expanded my knowledge of music and writing, met quality people and friends. The only thing missing from 2016 was me finishing some music and releasing it. When evaluating my year, that’s the only negative point I gave myself. But all is not lost: I started some really exciting projects with other musicians – and did release Montreal, a song from the forthcoming unnamed 2017 album. The rest of the year was spent grinding out new ideas, practicing old ones and trying to define the sound and feelings of my next album. I’m getting there and mark my words, it’ll be released sometime in 2017. It is number one on my list of things to do. It’s about half written and I’ve almost figured out the flow and the feelings of it. You’re going to love it.

I thought I might also give a countdown of my top 16 albums of 2016 to finish this blog. I’ve attached a link to each album on the list for you to check out for yourself.

16. The Great Detachment – Wintersleep

15. Cloak – Jordan Rakei

14. low kii savage – kiiara

13. Junk – M83
Along with seeing Radiohead at Osheaga, I saw M83, an amazing French group. They had so much energy and an unreal array of ear candy. It really inspired me in my own productions and I’ve listened to this album so many times since seeing them. It’s truly a work of art.

12. Conscious – Broods

11. Skin – Flume

10. Once The Lights Are On – CHINAH
I really love CHINAH. This EP is actually chalked full of cool sounds, great arrangements and catchy vocals. Youtube only had this song, but I highly recommend checking out the full EP.

9. Cleopatra – The Lumineers
Another fantastic band I witnessed at Osheaga. I liked this album before I went but there was something about seeing them live that made me appreciate them much more profoundly.

8. Woman – Justice
This album has so much going for it. Catchy vocals, sweet retro synths, flashy electric guitars, fancy arrangements. What’s not to love?

7. Congrats – Holy Fuck
These guys were my first ever bar show. I was 18 in Montreal and saw them at Club Soda for the JazzFest. It was incredible then and it was even cooler seeing them this past Fall for HPX. It’s so cool to see an electronic band NOT have a laptop on stage. Every sound you heard is created right in front of your eyes and that’s a really powerful thing.

6. Full Circle – Haelos
A lovely band. Well composed, well executed, but unfortunately couldn’t see them at Osheaga because Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing at the same time 🙁 Maybe another time. Until then, I’m left with endlessly consuming this KEXP Youtube video.

5. Phase – Jack Garratt
Jack Garratt is easily my favourite discovery in 2016. I heard his song Worry a few months before he was the first performer I saw at Osheaga where I turned full out fanboy. He combines real instrumentation with electronic sounds and does it so well. It’s a huge inspiration for me to draw from. He has so much energy on stage even though it’s just him. I can’t say enough good things about this guy.

4. W:/2016ALBUM/ – Deadmau5
There’s not much about this guy that I haven’t already said on this ol’ soapbox. I love this album, even though it’s not my favourite of his works. This is his song Cat Thruster which has a super groovy vibe with really great sounding (artificial) bass guitar. It sounds like it could be the track used for the series finale of Stranger Things.

3. Starboy – The Weeknd
I’ve been internally talking about the Weeknd overtaking Kanye as my favourite hip hop artist for the last year or so. I loved the last Weeknd album so much and Starboy is even better. Almost every track from this album has a heart beside it in my iTunes. I really do think it’s incredible. There’s not many albums where even the interlude track is awesome (see: Stargirl feat. Lana Del Ray). The whole album is sexy and groovy and fun and authentic – AND features Daft Punk on the two best tracks. I linked his short film called MANIA he used to promote this album, which reminded me so much of Kanye’s film Runaway he used to promote My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasies. Kanye had full ownership over my hip hop heart but now the Weeknd is an equal partner.

2. The Life of Pablo – Kanye West
Kanye’s The Life of Pablo just narrowly beat Starboy this year. I went back and forth on their rankings a few times but overall, TLOP is better. Kanye just has a certain property about him. His diversity, production and ability to consistently jump over the status quo are what make him so amazing. I do feel like he’s peaked, but he had such a head start on the competition, he still is on top for now. Also, this album is almost exclusively what I jam at the gym.

1. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
And here we have my number one favourite album from 2016. I’m sure you could’ve guessed this. Radiohead is a very special group to me and this album furthered that policy. Seeing them live in the Summer was an experience I will never forget. It’s seemingly impossible to accurately describe how it made me feel. It was pure euphoria mixed with tears of joy. This album is so emotional and honest and narrative and luscious. There isn’t anything I don’t like about it – okay, fine, maybe the title. Anyway, every cut from this album is perfect in it’s own way. It was great to see them close on a revamped version of an old Radiohead classic in True Love Waits. But I think my highlight of the album though is Present Tense of which I’ve linked a version.

A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016

 

I’m going to miss 2016 (and Harambe), but here’s to making 2017 as great and memorable as possible.

Talk soon,
Ryan

Top 15 Deadmau5 Songs

 

This month is a big month for Deadmau5. He released his eighth studio album named W:/2016ALBUM/ – he’s never been one for actual album names. Deadmau5 is probably my single favourite electronic music producer. He was introduced to me in 2009 by my friend Andrew and although I didn’t fall for mau5 right away, it wasn’t long before I was blasting his album For Lack of a Better Name nonstop.

deadmau5-1

This was really the beginning of my unconscious transition into electronic music. I had always loved rock and alternative music, and still do, but now I had entered into a different realm altogether. Deadmau5 was the first electronic music I enjoyed and he really opened up an entire genre to me. One that inspired me so much, that I ended up abandoning my rock-music-thinking ways to adopt an electronic music producer moniker, which would become Poly Gecko.

I guess what I’m getting at is that Deadmau5 kick started this whole thing for me. He taught me so much about electronic music, the importance of developing your sound, and that you can make a global impact as a producer as a small-town Canadian.

And later this month, Deadmau5 is about to teach me much more. I have punched myself a ticket to his Masterclass and am about to absorb all the knowledge he has and is willing to release. This is going to be pretty surreal to me. Imagine taking lessons on Catholicism from the Pope; or hockey lessons from Wayne Gretzky. This is how I feel about this course. I’m sure I’ll have lots of mau5-y feeling demos on the Soundcloud soon.

But enough about this one-sided bromance between Joel Zimmerman and I, here’s my top 15 Deadmau5 songs – including the new album:

15. Telemiscommunications [> album title goes here <]

14. Mercedes [while(1<2)]

13. One Tricky Pony [4×4=12]

12. A Moment To Myself [while(1<2)]

11. Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff [For Lack of a Better Name]

10. Snowcone [W:/2016ALBUM/]

9. Imaginary Friends [W:/2016ALBUM/]

8. Sofi Needs a Ladder [4×4=12]

7. Raise Your Weapon [4×4=12]

6. Monday [while(1<2)]

5. Somewhere Up Here [while(1<2)]

4. Cat Thruster [W:/2016ALBUM/]

3. Seeya [while(1<2)]

2. Strobe [For Lack of a Better Name]

1. Maths [> album title goes here <]

 

Although this list doesn’t make it fully clear, my absolute favourite album of his is while(1<2). It’s the most innovative work he’s done, and with it challenges the thought that he is a one-trick-pony dance producer. His ability with pianos and layering and sound design proves he’s much more than your bedroom DJ with an 808 and Massive.

 

Thanks for reading as always,

Stay warm,

Ryan.

 

 

Fall 2016 Update

Hey guys,

Woah do I ever suck at these blogs lately. But the silver lining is that I’ve done a lot of growing since you heard from me last – both musically, mentally and physically. I’m going to keep this blog post short today but I wanted to get you up to speed on a few things.

  1. I’m on a highly productive writing streak right now *knocks on wood*. I’ve fully settled into the new studio setup in my stylish new condo and I spend a lot of time in the studio working on refining old songs, creating new ones, watching technique videos and reading about music.

    StudioShot1

    The current configuration – guitars, synths, microphones and iMac

  2. Last week my friend Zach invited me to return on his podcast Business of Awareness where we discussed a lot of where I’m at musically, and mentally. He’s always a great chat and I strongly recommend you take an hour and listen to our podcast and if it tickles your fancy, check out more of his work.  On said podcast, I debuted my newest song Montreal as the intro.
  3. You can listen to Montreal in full right now on my Soundcloud. I started writing this song back in August with most of the lyrics being writing on the drive back from Montreal to Halifax, after Osheaga. I hope you like it. It’s the first real teaser from the upcoming 2017 album. Which by the way, I was going to call The Narrows, but I’ve since decided not to use that title. I’ve narrowed it down to three names now, but you’ll have to wait and see 😉
  4. I want to try to have one more song, even if it’s a collaboration out by the end of the year. I felt like I didn’t do much this year in terms of releasing new music, so I’m trying to redeem myself in the closing months of 2016.

As always, here’s what I’ve been listening to lately:

  • The Life of Pablo, Kanye West
  • Currents, Tame Impala
  • Once The Lights Are On, CHINAH
  • Patchwork, Matt Lange
  • Skin, Flume
  • Phase, Jack Garratt
  • Congrats, Holy Fuck

And honourable mention to Take to Heels by Sofie Letitre which was released today and is so far really great.

Top 15 Red Hot Chili Peppers B-Sides

Image

The-GetawayIt’s been over a month since I’ve written a blog to you guys. In fact, the last time I did write to you was Mother’s Day, and today it’s Father’s Day. This Friday past, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their 11th studio album: The Getaway. It followed up their album I’m With You which was the first album with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer after my favourite musician of all time, John Frusciante left the band. I don’t think anyone can argue that the band is better without Frusciante, but that’s not to suggest they’ve lost all their talent and creativity either. I thought since I did a Top 15 Radiohead songs when their new album came out I would do the same for my other favourite band! But to make it a little more interesting, I’ll only do a countdown for songs which didn’t appear on an album. RHCP has one of the best b-side catalogues of modern bands and hopefully I can shed some light on it if you haven’t checked these tunes out already.

 

15. How Strong [Californication]

14. Let’s Make Evil [One Hot Minute]

13. Bunker Hill [By The Way]

12. Mercy Mercy [Stadium Arcadium]

11. Whatever We Want [Stadium Arcadium]

10. Save This Lady [Stadium Arcadium]

9. Rivers of Avalon [By The Way]

8. Body of Water [By The Way]

7. Sikamikanico [Blood Sugar Sex Magik]

6. Victorian Machinery [I’m With You]

5. Lately [Stadium Arcadium]

4. I’ll Be Your Domino [Stadium Arcadium] 

3. Over Funk [Californication]

2. Million Miles of Water [Stadium Arcadium]

1. Quixoticelixer [Californication]

 

Did I miss one your favourites? Let me know below 😉

 

Ryan

 

Top 15 Radiohead Songs & 0110 Download

As the internet – specifically my internet presence – would have you know is that Radiohead just released a new album. I have been waiting on this new album since 2011’s The King of Limbs, which by most measures was a pretty solid album but I, along with likely a lot of other Radiohead fans were also excited for a change. Almost every day for the last 5 months I had been tweeting “no new radiohead today. maybe tomorrow” And finally that day came. Finally.

A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016

The long awaited, A Moon Shaped Pool.

A Moon Shaped Pool was released on May 8, 2016. Happy Mother’s Day! I went into work, plugged in my laptop and downloaded it immediately at 3:00 PM local time when the album was released and blared it from front to back. Five days later, I still love the album. Of course, I could be in a new music bliss where everything is good … until it isn’t. I really do enjoy the depth of the album; how dry and ethereal it is. Nothing on the album seems forced. I also love that they reworked some old tracks like Identikit and True Love Waits.

To honour the release of A Moon Shaped Pool, I thought I’d give a top 15 Radiohead songs of mine (excluding AMSP because it’s just too early to tell).

15. Everything In Its Right Place [Kid A]

14. Paranoid Android [OK Computer]

13. The National Anthem [Kid A]

12. 2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm) [Hail To The Thief]

11. Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury & Executioner) [Hail To The Thief]

10. 15 Step [In Rainbows]

9. Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box [Amnesiac]

8. Like Spinning Plates [Amnesiac]

7. Idioteque [Kid A]

6. Jigsaw Falling Into Place [In Rainbows]

5. Lotus Flower [The King of Limbs]

4. The Daily Mail [The King of Limbs sessions]

3. All I Need [In Rainbows]

2. Airbag [OK Computer]

1. Videotape [In Rainbows]

 

If you couldn’t guess, In Rainbows is definitely my favourite Radiohead album although OK Computer isn’t far behind. If you haven’t heard it already, I followed the instructions to create a mashup of both of these albums which the internet refers to as “tens piracy” or “0110“. It can sound a little insane, but even if they didn’t do it with intent, it still sounds awesome. You can download it here from my Dropbox. It’s 93:33 of solid gold.

Anyway, that’s enough for me for a little bit. Much love as always. Shit is happening behind the curtain, don’t you worry.

Ryan

 

New Demos, Collaborations Garole

Hey friends,

It’s been a while since I’ve written to you. This one will be short and sweet, but a post nonetheless. I recently had my hernia surgery (finally) and I’m on the recovery road now. I’ll have some sweet scars and no lifting or physical activity for 4 more weeks but I’ll survive. I hope you’ve all been well through 3 months into the new year, too. Let me get you up to date in all things Poly Gecko.

I’m toying with the idea of making my forthcoming EP, The Narrows into a full-length album instead. There are about 14 songs right now that could fit on it; a good chunk of them being ongoing collaborative projects with friends. If this were the case, it would obviously push it farther into the future, but I’ve got the material now – it’s just a matter of finishing it.

Aside from that, I’m actually the busiest I’ve ever been these last few weeks with collaboration. I’ve met with two separate friends a few times and we’ve worked on a few songs. Both projects are very different. One is headed in the electronic / RnB / lyrical  direction while the other is headed in a throwback house music direction. I’m really excited for both because although both electronic, they’re a slight departure from the Poly Gecko stuff. However, these collaborations share a few common threads: both will assume new names apart from Poly Gecko or their name, both will have an EP out as soon as the material shapes up and both will give me a better opportunity to play live. Poly Gecko will play live someday but it’s a hard transition. I have to finish up this next series of songs and then go to the drawing board and figure out how to take these songs to a stage.

I’ll leave you with a little teaser of something new I cooked up a few days ago. The working title is Neotics. I was listening to a lot of deadmau5 and Daft Punk and then this happened:

 

What have I been listening to? I thought you’d never ask.

  1. The Inheritors by Holden
  2. In Rolling Waves by The Naked and Famous
  3. Where You Go I Go Too by Lindstorm
  4. Believe In Your Dreams by TWRP
  5. Wonder Where We Land by SBTRKT

Keep it chill. Talk soon.

 

Ryan

 

 

Leap Year Update

February is about ninety minutes from being concluded and I have to say, what a weird month it was. I accomplished so much, yet so little; met nobody, but met someone; it was winter, but hot. Tomorrow is March and March will bring the feeling of moving forward in a lot of ways: I’m going to eat almonds for the very first time in a controlled allergy challenge test; I’m going to get a routine surgery finally taken care of; I’ll turn twenty four.

Poly Gecko is forward-moving, but from your perception, maybe slowly. I promise that whenever you don’t hear from me, it’s a good sign… I’m always up to something fun. I’ve started a new collaboration project I hope will turn into something spectacular with my friend DJ, who, yes, he is a DJ. I’ll also be focusing on two other collaboration tunes with two femme fatales. I’ve been patiently waiting to collaborate with either of them and now the wheels are rolling on both of these tunes at the time. Exciting!

I’ll also be producing a friend’s project this spring of which I’m quite excited. He’s been a close friend and a closer ally of my musical venture and he’s asked me to produce his debut release and I’m thrilled he trusts me with something as important as his new music, which is so well-crafted.

If you haven’t already, download and listen to the Take My Hand Remix I did, originally by Joel Freck feat. Cameron Hawes.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/248162052″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

 

Love you all lots. I’ll be better at blogging coming soon. I might even start a little recorded blog / podcast / whatever soon too.

Looking forward to March, and every day inside of it.

Ryan

Take My Hand Remix

A few months ago, a great friend of mine left for Vancouver. His name is Cameron Hawes. I really do miss him everyday, and I know that sometime in the future we shall be reunited. Anyways, yadda yadda bromance yadda. Before Cameron left, he did a couple of features with a good friend of both of ours: Joel Freck. Joel is a fantastic producer and an even better gentleman. Joel laid down some fresh dance beats and Cameron did his vocal thing on top of them. Joel did a great job crafting these songs into masterpieces. After hearing some mixes from Joel, it occurred to me that I would love to remix one of them – specifically Take My Hand. So I got permission from both Joel and Cameron and went ahead. I’ve attempted some remixes before but I usually get about half way through and lose focus and work on something else, but I really wanted to see this one through and do it to the best of my ability.

Here's the map!

Here’s the map from a few months ago

I spent a lot of time with this track, more time than I would’ve liked. I just knew it had so much potential to be a super great track and I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I hit that full potential. I’ve “finished” this song 3 times now, and now the version you’ll hear now is from October 2015. I made some updates since then but they didn’t stick. I always go back to the quote “art is never finished, only abandoned” by Leonardo da Vinci, and I think that applies heavily to this remix. I’m not totally satisfied with this mix, with this arrangement, but it is the absolute best I can do right now. And with so much time put into it, and with other songs I want to focus on, it’s time to release it and move on to the next thing. I still really like the tune, and I’m proud that I stuck with it as far as I did and tried so many different things with it.

Listen & Download to TAKE MY HAND [POLY GECKO REMIX] by JOEL FRECK feat. CAMERON HAWES:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/248162052″ params=”color=00aabb&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

 

Take care,

Ryan

2015 Year End

Today is my favourite day of the year: Boxing Day. One of the only days of the year where I have absolutely no commitments. It’s nice to just have one full day of absolutely whatever I want. Not to mention, it’s one day after Chrimbus and I have a bunch of cool stuff to mess around with.

Most notably, I received a Komplete Kontrol S61 from my parents. Though, I partially paid for it, and then acted really surprised when I opened it Friday. I believe Kontrol is close to the final piece of the puzzle to make my creation studio complete. Of course I’ll always want different toys and gadgets, but with this I can write much faster and intuitively.

In other news, I submitted an offer on a home I’ve been admiring for months and it was accepted. Of course, there needs to be a home inspection and a bunch more conditions before it’s actually mine but, if all goes well, and I’m guessing it will, it shall be mine. I’ve been saving up for years to buy a home and I’m ecstatic it’s finally come true. So the next project for the studio shall be acoustically treating the room for the most accurate listening experience possible. I know a decent amount about acoustic treatment but actually doing it will teach me much more.

Since we talked last, I finished my 12-week course at Berklee Online. It went by so quickly but I learned quite a bit – more than I expected to. I finally kinda know how to compose. For everything before this course, I could stumble my way through a song but now I have a much better understanding of song construction and form. Feel free to check out my final project, which I’m quite proud of. It’s called Hills. You can also download it too if you wish.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/237585884″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

But anyway, I find once late December comes, I end up reflecting on the year – as cheesy as that is. I’m pretty happy with myself in 2015. I accomplished a lot that I set out to do. Mainly releasing PGEP and completing a term at Berklee Online. I also ended up buying a house at the tail end of the year, too! 2016 is already set up to be pretty dope year. I’ll be playing live as Poly Gecko for the first time; moving into a new home; releasing hopefully two more EPs (one solo, one collaboration); continuing to learn how to swim; continuing vocal lessons. There’s some other crazy exciting news but I’m too superstitious to post it 😉 But, yes. Exciting times ahead. I think the band will get together for the first time in the next few weeks and start jamming and piecing together a live Poly Gecko set. If you’re reading this and have experience with Apple MainStage 3, drop me a line. We need to talk.

So to end my final blog for 2015, I thought I do a quick countdown for my favourite music of the year. Only four of these artists I knew before 2015 – the rest are all newcomers to my life. Here’s the list of my top 12 favourite albums released in 2015:

12. Noontide – Humans

11. Transition Roads – Ominar

10. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence + The Machine

9. 2nite EP – TWRP

8. Play With Me! Collection – Matador

7. Taking Flight EP – Ryan Hemsworth & Lucas

6. Caracal – Disclosure

5. Siren EP – ATTLAS

4. Ep5 – Nerve

3. Do Androids Dream – Andrew Bayer

2. Scene EP – ATTLAS

1. Another Eternity – Purity Ring

No album was as exciting to me as Another Eternity was, and still is. And seeing Purity Ring live in October only solidified my love for their music. It’s just such a sweet blend of innocent vocals and aggressive bass and I love it.

Anywho, that does it for me this year. I hope you had a splendid holiday and I hope you all have a sweet New Year. If you’re looking for a sweet party on NYE, come to Marquee / Seahorse for 90s Night / Tupperware Remix Party. I’ll be there, drinking Horsepower.

Stay true,

Ryan