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More electronic goodness emerged out of Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs series today in the form of Harrison. “Vanilla” is a collaboration between the two artists, and it has everything we’ve grown to love about Secret Songs—cheerful, chirping, synths, forward-thinking production, and plenty of subtle electronic layers that only reveal themselves upon multiple listenings.
It is, in the SoundCloud description’s own words, a “butter treat,” and will appear on Harrison’s upcoming debut album. Listen to “Vanilla” below, then read through our Q&A with the young producer.
Where are you from/how did you end up making music?
My name is Harrison but my friends call me Harry. I’m 20 years old, and I’m from Toronto, Ontario. I started with my friend and mentor, Seamus Hamilton, when I was 16 and then started to take it seriously when I was almost 18. I didn’t really know much music theory or anything back then but I was really into Nujabes and instrumental hip hop and would watch Seamus over the shoulder on his software, Reason 5.
We would sit in a room and just relax and enjoy sampling funk and soul and such. I was 16 at the time that all started. I got my own MPC when I was 17 and put out a beat tape exclusively on that called Prom King, then another one a few months later called When It Rains. From then on I got signed after my friend and now manager, Justin Peroff, hit me up and was getting me smaller gigs and released the Colours EP last year.
How did you originally get linked up with Secret Songs?
Ryan DM’d on Twitter around a year and a half ago and we would bounce ideas back and fourth. It seems to be a more chill friendship instead of a heavy music collaboration frenzy between us, but that’s just my side. He might think I’m a chode or something, you never know.
Ryan and I share the same love for our homes I think. I don’t really like going out much anymore, and would rather go for a walk to get coffee than spend the day sitting in the uncomfortable grass tbh. I even asked Ryan for relationship advice many moons ago actually. He gave me smart yet simple answers that I probably should have paid more attention to at the time. It’s nice to see him and Evan Exeter and just sit and drink and play Blitz on nintendo every once in a while.
What was the production process for this album like? Where did you record, how long did it take, and what will you remember most from the sessions?
A few singles were made before I really sat down and started writing the album in a six month period. The album was written at my home studio. It’s very comfortable, it feels like a sanctuary to me. Getting to sit down in a natural sunlit room with plants around can be very inspiring, and I hope that shines through in the LP. Working on one of the tracks until seven in the morning, but just actually feeling the song 100%. It felt like when I made my first song and it was amazing. I walked to McDonalds and rewarded myself with a McGriddle and came back home and went to sleep.
I will remember the stress. It’s a very specific type of stress though. It’s a really nice sort of stress. It makes you want to create more and more and more without second guessing yourself (which can be bad in some cases). I’ll remember that stress throughout the sessions because I’ve learned how to use it to my advantage now and it makes me excited to work on more music.
How do you use sampling in the album? Is there a sound bank you return to, or do you draw from the outside world?
I tried not to sample at all unless it was vocal clips. I would look through a lot of movies like “Open your eyes” in the intro. I really REALLY like nature sounds. They’re scattered throughout the whole album as well.
What can you tell us about “Vanilla?” When/why did you make it?
I made “Vanilla” because the album was starting to sound a little dark. I know how much Ryan likes mallets so I sent it to him! Did some crazy ass intro that I LOVE! Super stoked to release that song <3.