Photo: Press (Ryan James Ford)
Ryan James Ford is one the most interesting techno producers out there precisely because his approach to techno does not limit itself to the alleged confines of the genre. Much like Anastasia Kristensen and others, the Canadian producer seamlessly incorporates elements from other genres to create a sound that can be as furious as it is emotive. He’s prolific, too: ever since debuting as a solo artist on Marcel Dettmann’s own MDR in 2015, the SHUT label owner has released a dozen EPs with wild, adventurous tracks touching upon the jungle and IDM sounds that shaped him as a young raver. And while Ryan James Ford’s mix for our Groove podcast is dedicated to highlighting fresh new blood like Stenny, Animistic Beliefs or Buttechno, it does acknowledge the impact that bands like Coil or Kraftwerk and producers like Aphex Twin or even Westbam still have on him as a DJ.
You came in touch with electronic music in your hometown Calgary during the 90s. What drew you to it and how would you describe the local scene at that time?
Music, kids, warehouses, hockey rinks, acceptance, community centres, drugs, love, freaks, outcasts, norms, community, travel, more drugs, passion, friends, mini vans, etc…. It was super cool and I’m happy I was in Calgary at that time. Then the city outlawed any “dancing parties,” so it was over fast.
You made your debut on Marcel Dettmann’s MDR before founding your own label SHUT, where you have released five of your own records so far. What is the concept behind SHUT and what sets the music you are putting out there apart from your releases on other labels?
Dunno really… It’s all about the vibes, I guess. Time has come for me to move on from SHUT, in fast times it’s nice to let go of things and explore new dimensions. That being said, I also like doing records on other people’s labels, Serge (of Clone Records) really has a keen ear and I love the collections he makes of my tracks. I am also working on something with one of my favourite artists of all times’s label, so let’s see what magic the future holds.
SHUT has a very distinctive design that references the visual language of pictograms. Who is responsible for the artwork and what is the idea behind it?
I went to art school so I am just trying to get some value out of that degree. (laughs) I like signage, iconography, logos, basically images that are supremely functional. I draw inspiration from them and make them have no function at all. It’s fun!
In one interview, you have said that you are sceptical whether or not you could collaborate with another artist because you “have such a specific way of working on music.” How does your working process look like?
Yeah… I just don’t see it working. I like to lay around and produce on a laptop with headphones on in a small storage room, so I think it would be hard to fit another person in there with me. Seriously, i’m a big guy, like a bear, so the cave is too full!
As a DJ, you seem to prefer the end of the night over peak time hours. What makes this particular period so special for you and which kind of music or particular tracks are perfect for sunrises?
It’s when everyone has just had enough, is super burnt, or just gives in to the music – this is the best time to play. The trip can go anywhere, you can get away with tracks and combinations that at other times might raise some eyebrows. In the post high-glow anything is possible.
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
Mainly some freshies with a slight peppering of classics and self promotion. If I could play a rave in Calgary – or anywhere – with today’s killer stuff, this would be what I would play. We are living in the best times, I enjoy it…
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
Some dates are coming and I have a nice batch of slammers coming out soon, too. Stuff for the dancefloor, exciting times!
Stream: Ryan James Ford – Groove Podcast 229
01. Coil – Cold Cell (Threshold House)
02. Ryan James Ford – Royal Legion (TRIP)
03. Piezo – Turbo Island (Megarave Mix)(art-aud)
04. Ryan James Ford – Chelmsford (Live Mix)(Unreleased)
05. AFX – simple slamming b 2 (WARP)
06. Animistic Beliefs – Margiela Face Mask (Solar One)
07. DJ Rush – Freaks On Hubbard (Dave Clarke Mix)(Pro-Jex)
08. Ryan James Ford – Jumping Pound Creek (Unreleased)
09. Stenny – Adequate Force (Ilian Tape)
10. Kraftwerk – Numbers (Kling Klang)
11. Textasy – Dirty Dawg (art-aud)
12. Peder Mannerfelt – Sissel & Bass (OnScreenActor Remix) (Peder Mannerfelt)
13. Mall Grab – Sleepless (Looking For Trouble)
14. Kai van Dongen – Body Moving [NO TOMS VERSION](Unreleased)
15. Westbam – Terminator (Original Mix)(Low Spirit Recordings)
16. Special Request – Vortex 150 (Houndstooth)
17. Buttechno – tr-919 (TRIP)
18. µ-Ziq – Ritm (Ryan James Ford_1992 M25 Edit)(Unreleased)
19. Ryan James Ford – 22-RESET 11_R2 (Unreleased)