My Generation: Interview with Music Producer Ryan Lewis!

When did you begin your music career?:

“It’s tough to distinguish when a “career” actually begins, cause’ really that’s the moment you decide you’re going to become a professional. Or try, haha. I started making music when I was just a little kid on the guitar. That quickly developed into me forming my first band at age 12 and going through a heavy rock phase up until my mid-teens. Around the time I was 16 is when my musical interests broadened widely and I wanted to start producing records as opposed to just playing an instrument. This was really the beginning of working on a craft that lead up to this point now. I’m a firm believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours theory. It takes 10,000 hours to truly become a master of something. I’d like to think it was when I bought my first belt-driven turn table to sample some records that my 10,000 hours began. Not sure I’m a master yet, haha.”

– What is it like to work with some pretty successful artists, right now Mackelmore, Blue scholars, …etc?:

“It’s awesome. I’m grateful for who my family is, i.e. who I’m working closely beside and who have become significant comrades in this little Northwest bubble. Over the past year the Scholars have been nothing but supportive and undoubtedly helped “Mack” and I reach the point that we’re at now. To have the biggest hip-hop duo in Seattle co-sign the art your making, inviting you on the road and providing opportunities across the board is really amazing. We are infinitely grateful. From the moment the Scholars emerged in Seattle out of Beacon Hill they’ve always had a genuine loyalty and support for this regional music scene. Helping Mack and I grow is only a reflection of the leaders they choose to be in this city, advocating the music in the region even as Seattle remains lesser known in the greater international spotlight.”

“Working with Macklemore is like working with my best friend. I met him back in early 2006, when we were both in very different places of life. Our real collaboration began in mid 2008 around the time he got sober. There isn’t a person I know better in life than him right now. To collaborate musically and make something of impact is a common and powerful thing. To collaborate with someone you respect as a person and are growing with on a day to day basis outside of the music, is a whole different dynamic that few get to experience. In a current music industry of constant mixtapes, leaks, quickly made collaborations and collapse of LP’s, I feel blessed to be in a duo that is trying to make full-length records where every song is good. And not be selling beats for some quick cash.”

When is the next EP/CD/Concert gonna be?!:

“The VS. Re-Release (which dropped at the Paramount) was a more significant release than we were anticipating. The lead single “Otherside Ft. Fences [Ryan Lewis REMIX]” was leaked on Monday, followed by Jake One’s REMIX of Crew Cuts. The whole REDUX project is now available on iTunes. It was basically just an idea we had to re-release our old EP from last year, touching up some of the mistakes I originally made, re-doing the album art and passing acapella’s over to some of our favorite local producers to remix. The flagship of the project was re-doing Otherside. Something special happened working with Fences, Zach Fleury (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) and Andrew Joslyn (violin)… and in my opinion it does justice to an acapella performance I never felt the original beat was living up to.”

We’re from Seattle, I think it is safe to say we are pretty progressive. What is your take on sustainability? Is it just a buzz word, or is it important?:

“Sustainability is absolutely important.”

“You have had the opportunity to travel around a bit, is there one place that you think, personally, is more environmentally conscious?

“What’s kind of sad, is that I can think of 3-5 places right off the bat that are LESS environmentally conscious than Seattle, more easily than I can think of one that is more. I’m not sure that means Seattle is killing the game when it comes to the environment or if cities in America have a lot of room to grow. Definitely feels good to get back home off a plane and smell that Northwest air, after getting used the smell of garbage in New York.”

Is there any talk about being sustainable or going “Green” in your line of work? When I think of music I don’t think of it being synonymous with the environment, but just curious?

“I think the biggest opportunity for a musician to support “going green” is in beneficiary shows for primarily non-profit organizations working toward the environment. What’s difficult is that benefit shows are one of the most frequent requests artists get, and you can’t always take them. A show is one of the only sources of income we have, and this is our job. Organizations think you’re cold hearted if you turn down a benefit show, but what people don’t realize is that artists are asked to play these shows ALL the time. 3-5 times a month. That being said, it is a great way for the artist to give back and I know in Seattle hip-hop, we try to take as many of these type of benefits as we can.”

Why do you think it is so important in today’s generation to try and live a sustainable lifestyle? Is there one thing that you do in your daily life to be more sustainable?

“Well, it’s clear in all things that our generation is the future. We have redefined how just about everything works as technology has advanced so drastically in the past 10 years. From how we get our music in nontraditional ways, how we watch TV on our lap tops, how we have 5 different disposal cans depending on what you’re throwing out, how we read our books on LCD screens, where our cars get energy, the list is endless. The question is how well we’re using these new technologies to better the world, and whether we’re willing to take advantage of new techniques that better the environment even when they’re less convenient. If I’m being honest with myself, I think that just like a lot of people I have room to grow in being environmentally conscious. I’m a cigarette smoker, and it’s hard to want to find a trash can every time I finish a smoke. It’s truly deciding what things your going to choose to value in life and whether helping to keep the environment clean is one of them.”

Want to hear more of Ryan Lewis check out his website:


One response

  1. yeah nice

    2011 at 12:14 pm

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