Swift Current-born Ryan Stinson is enjoying a double dose of recognition with his 2012 hip hop EP Futura.
Stinson released the five-song EP Futura eight months ago on March 27, while Futura (Deluxe Edition) was released on Tuesday, highlighted by five remixes of Stinson's original compositions. Futura is being released through his own Phonographique label, with distribution by URBNET.
Stinson broke onto the music scene in 2006 when he crafted his debut release 'Open Mic', and his last project was the 2010 release of 20 Something as a collaboration with Saskatoon rapper Chapter Thrive. His third release has been over two years in the making and marks a radical departure from the upbeat sound in his previous work.
"That took a long time to make really because it was me stepping out of my comfort zone. I usually make a lot of up-tempo type of music, and it is a lot friendlier," Stinson admitted in a phone interview the weekend before the release of his EP.
"I'm not a very dark person by any means, but I really wanted to take myself out of that comfort zone and just see what I could do because I've had an interest in darker music. It's just sometimes how you feel."
He highlights that Futura was a conceptual album, and it was hard to make that apparent because as an instrumental album it was not obvious that the music was based on things that had happened in his life.
"You can't really get that across too well when it comes to straight instrumental music. It's more like this is how I felt at the time so this is the type of emotion that would go into creating a song like this."
"It's a lot deeper than most people think," he reflected. "That's why I also felt as well it needed to go out and get remixed. I've got so much invested in it, but on the other hand it's just music and it's art at the end of the day. And I wanted people to interpret it the way they wanted to."
Futura (Deluxe Edition) features remixes by 2012 Red Bull Thre3style Canada finalist Charly Hustle from Saskatoon, and well-known Canadian rapper and fellow URBNET Records label talent D-Sisive. One of the songs on the EP features Juno nominated emcee Ghettosocks. The project is also partially funded by the Sask Arts Board.
"I just basically let them do their own thing," he said of the remixes. "I'm actually really impressed with the way it turned out."
Stinson took a bit of a leap of faith with his music career in Saskatoon, purchasing the on-line independent music sales company Phonographique in 2010. As an independent seller of Canada's hip hop artists, having that name brought a lot of clout and provided the keys to opening doors to meet and start conversations with a diverse array of artists.
"I also decided after probably about a year that I was going to focus more on releasing albums under the name phonographique rather than selling everybody elses merchandise. So I closed down the store and when I was closing down the store I had to get in touch with all these people. So it was one of those things where it gave me a lot more opportunity. And like I said it was more of a business decision than an artistic decision. But I think it's paid off in the end."
He has certainly come a long way since back in High School when he would travel to Saskatoon to attend hip hop shows.
"It's been a long time coming," he said.
Earlier this year Stinson was named a recipient of a MuchFact Grant which assisted in shooting a video in Halifax for his song Melt (feat. Ghettosocks).
"It's been this weird thing that I've been able to travel across the country just because of my music. And it comes down to almost the one song - just because of the video.
"It's very weird when you create a song and then you start to shoot a music video for it, and there's all these people on set because of you and this other person. It's very, very weird. It was a surreal moment when we first got on the set."
Stinson currently has a full time job not related to the music industry, but he would like to organize a bit of a Western Canadian tour in 2013 to get more exposure for his material and do shows with people who appear on his EP. Admittedly, the shows would be somewhat easier in his home province where he already has exposure and people recognize his work. However, once again he would be stepping outside his comfort zone by taking his music to west coast communities and playing before new audiences.