I recently had the honor and privilege of interviewing Ryan Henderson, one half of the remarkably talented and tremendously successful Producer/DJ team known as Project 46. Canadians Henderson and Thomas Shaw have been enjoying unbelievable success, considering they have been on the scene for only two years. A meteoric rise attributable to genius, super creativity, hard work, and maybe a little bit of being in the right place at the right time. Whatever it is, a recent collaboration with GRAMMY nominated and America's number one DJ Kaskade, current support for GRAMMY nominated Morgan Page and his Morgan Page Presents 3D concert tour, a worldwide number one Billboard Top-100 dance chart topping remix with Kelly Clarkson, their new single 'Motionless' debuting on the Beatport Top 100, their breakthrough release entitled, 'Reasons' passing Tiesto going to the number one overall spot on Beatport, and debuting at number 100 on the DJ Mag Top 100 in their first year might begin to be able to give you an idea of the pace Henderson and Shaw are setting.
William Kelly Milionis: Hi Ryan, thank you for this interview opportunity. You and Thomas have been enjoying quite a rapid rise in popularity and success in a relatively short period of time and you are currently on the Morgan Page Presents 3D Concert Tour. Which city did you wake up in today?
Ryan Henderson: It's crazy how many things happen so fast. We did TomorrowWorld on Thursday [9/26] in Atlanta, Georgia, then Forever Festival on Friday [9/27] in Detroit, Michigan, and I'm just leaving Miami, as we played Bamboo Nightclub last night [Saturday, 9/28]. Just going to Orlando for a few days to take a couple of days off before we head up to Minneapolis, MN
Kelly: Yes, Minneapolis, MN (10/2), then Madison, WI (10/3) and you'll be here in Chicago on Friday, October 4th.
Ryan: Yea, that's perfect!
Kelly: How was TomorrowWorld?
Ryan: TomorrowWorld was amazing. It was just kind of overwhelming.
Kelly: I saw a picture of that event posted on your Facebook page...and looked really cool.
Ryan: Yea, it was pretty amazing. That Facebook picture couldn't even grasp half of it because it was so wide too. It was pretty amazing.
Kelly: Now, you'll be in Chicago at the Concord Music Hall on Friday, October 4th, 2013, have you played Chicago or been to Chicago before?
Ryan: Yea, we've played in Chicago before. We've played at Studio Paris in December of last year. We played the MID earlier this year. We're actually coming back, but we can't announce it yet because we are on the Morgan Page Presents 3D Concert Tour but we will be returning to Studio Paris later this year. So, we've been to Chicago like four times in the past year and a half. Actually, it will be four times in one year...that's crazy!
Kelly: When you're visiting Chicago, do you have a favorite food you simply gotta have?
Ryan: I've actually tried [laughing] I've actually tried the deep dish pizza but it's way too intense for me [laughing] [more laughing]. I think we went there at the wrong time. It was after a late night, so we were up at 11:30 and said let's go try this deep dish pizza and it was just way too much [laughing] this is too much food [more laughing].
Kelly: On the Morgan Page Presents 3D Tour, have you had an opportunity to play fan and watch Page's show?
Ryan: Yea, it was one of the first night's that we did that. It was cool because I have never seen a 3D element used in a nightclub. It's like a project you would traditionally see or expect in a movie theatre or anything like that so it was kind of cool! We have been fans of Morgan for a long time and to go on tour with him and spend a couple days of the tour stepping back and watching it has been cool! His production overall is just really impressive. Everyone is going practically over the top with their productions with different things. I think the 3D had some taboo around it, some misconceptions and he is just shattering that with his production. It's pretty extreme; it's pretty cool.
Kelly: How did your addition as support for GRAMMY nominated Morgan Page and his Morgan Page tour come about?
Ryan: Early on, it's funny, when Thomas and I first met, we played a festival together in Ontario called Escapades. We were working together on Skype and did the show together. We actually met Morgan that day and we talked with him a bit. We had just started making music about a month ago and we started putting up some stuff and he started putting it on his radio show. We saw him in Miami at Winter Music Conference and we talked for about an hour just picking each other's brains. He said, hey, I want you to join me on tour. And it was, sure, certainly, ok, of course! So we cleared our schedule and dedicated a month to going out with Morgan.
Kelly: You have a single that was just released called, 'Motionless'...
Ryan: Yea, we released 'Motionless' in September and it's going into the Top-10 on Beatport and I think it's still in the Top-15 on progressive/house so it's just doing very well. People seem to enjoy it and a lot of big artists are playing it like Nicky Romero. There's a bunch of different artists playing the track. It's kind of actually a weird release because what happened is we have so much music sitting there waiting to be released. We're holding off because of our Kaskade collaboration ['Last Chance'] and we weren't sure when that was coming out. They said we need to schedule something. We scheduled the 'Motionless' track and then they ended up releasing them within a week of each other. The tracks have been really well received. It's pretty cool and we have been working on it for a while, so it's nice to get it out there and let everybody hear it.
Kelly: 'Motionless' and 'Last Chance' were released within a week of each other so you have been receiving quite a big bump from both releases...
Ryan: 'Last Chance' isn't really released. 'Last Chance' is the first song on the album [Kaskade 'Atmosphere'] but it's actually going to be his [Kaskade] next single so it will be receiving the proper single treatment in the next few months. You'll see a music video, you'll see radio promo, and see actual promotion from both artists, Kaskade and ourselves. Right now, the album's released and the song was on the album so you'll see more of a dedicated promotional campaign around that song. It's really weird when you're dealing with big labels and big artists, you really have no choice and you kind of get disconnected from the whole process. You don't really know when things are coming out or when things are happening. When the preview came out, we found out about the preview through our manager and thought, oh, they just posted the preview of the song ten minutes ago and we didn't know that. It's kind of a distracted process when you are working with bigger labels.
Kelly: You are very familiar with charting on Beatport but it must have felt special to debut at number 25 on Billboard's Dance/Electronic Songs music chart with 'Last Chance', your collaboration with Kaskade?
Ryan: Actually, I didn't even know that happened.
Kelly: Congratulations on that.
Ryan: Awesome! Thank you! We have had some Billboard success. Our first remix we did was Kelly Clarkson and 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)' and that actually went to number one worldwide on Billboard's Top-100 dance chart. What's cool about that is it opens up a lot of opportunities for all these bigger labels saying we want you to remix our dance songs. We're able to support ourselves in doing remixes while we're developing our own music. Things all came together for a reason. It's cool!
Kelly: When you hit number one on the Billboard Top-100 dance chart with Kelly Clarkson, you said that was a remix, but when you hit the Billboard Dance chart with your own track 'Last Chance', that has to feel special?
Ryan: Yea, I didn't know it until you said it [laughing]. I had no idea we were on Billboard right now. That's pretty awesome! I hope there is more of that and obviously Kaskade is a huge name. It's cool!
Kelly: How did your collaboration with GRAMMY nominated and America's number one DJ Kaskade come about?
Ryan: We sent an idea through our management, it was a basic idea for a song. Somehow they got it onto the tour bus of Kaskade when he was doing the 'Freaks of Nature' tour. He heard it and said I love this and he just kind of hit us up. He really had some cool ideas for the song. He said, let's work on it together. Obviously yea, we're not going to say no, so it was like, sure. We started trading ideas back and forth through e-mails. We never got together in the studio, but we were able to meet in some random hotels; we met in Hong Kong, we hung out in London, England. Every time we were in the same city we just sat down and went over the track and went over some ideas and it went back and forth and we mastered it together in London. It was really cool! It was a different process. It wasn't like we got together and went into the studio and started working on the song. There is a lot of things happening on both sides sharing ideas and bringing it together.
Kelly: 'Last Chance' features a very strong vocal...
Ryan: One of the people that helped us write the vocal was Andrew Allen who was featured and wrote 'Reasons' which was our breakout song. We did two songs with Andrew. He was involved in 'Last Chance' and he was involved in 'Reasons', both of our biggest songs. So, needless to say we're trying to do more work with Andrew. He's a super busy guy, but for some reason he works with us. We are very lucky.
Kelly: Looking back at your collaboration with Kaskade and the creative process for your original track 'Last Chance', could you give an idea of the artistic and creative balance of input between Kaskade and Project 46?
Ryan: We started the track ourselves. Kaskade was obviously a massive influence on the track. Every collaboration, people bring different things to the table and Kaskade is super, super talented and super technical. I would say the duties to the track were equally distributed and we all worked very hard on it. We are all pretty proud of the track.
Kelly: Any chance Project 46 might join Kaskade's 'Atmosphere' Tour?
Ryan: I don't think we are going to be on the 'Atmosphere' Tour. I don't think it's possible because our schedule is pretty busy. We are in India and Brazil with shows of our own and have the Morgan Page Tour so it wasn't really an option to go on tour with him for the 'Atmosphere' Tour. We have done support dates for him. Anytime Kaskade asks us to do support, if we're available, obviously we're going to do it. He's bringing some cool developing acts like Skylar Grey on his tour.
Kelly: How long have you been a professional DJ?
Ryan: Well, I guess professionally means getting paid, so [laughing] the first time we actually made any money was a year and a half ago. We have been doing Project 46 for just over two years.
Kelly: You and Thomas have only been together for approximately two years and the successes you have enjoyed in such a short period of time are quite considerable. Do you see it as a meteoric rise or is it business as usual?
Ryan: Yea, everybody says it's pretty fast. It seems like we were working super hard for two years, so it just seems like a lot of time. Everybody around us says it's happening so fast. I guess it's fast. It hasn't seemed like it has happened overnight to us. We're rolling with it. Nothing has really changed. We are playing bigger shows and traveling a lot more. Everything is back to the basics, trying to get into the studio as much as possible and make some more music. It has been a lot of fun.
Kelly: Do you play any musical instruments?
Ryan: No. Thomas did more of the musical instrument stuff. When he was younger he was in the choir, he played the drums, played the piano, played the guitar. Thomas had about two years on me when it came to production stuff and I was doing it for about a year when we met up and we ended up working together on a lot of different things. I'll do a lot of the lyric writing and melody production with him. He's great at mastering and getting things fine-tuned. We both have different roles when it comes to certain tracks and I think that's why we get so many tracks done. Everybody says we do so much in a short period of time. Well, obviously, we should when we have two people working on a song.
Kelly: Who are your musical influences?
Ryan: My first CD I ever bought was like Bryan Adams. I like Green Day and Offspring. I listened to everything when I was growing up. In the electronic world it was Alesso, Avicii, Axwell and a lot of the alternative stuff when I was younger. My Dad listened to Madonna and The Beatles, so there was always music around; influences were constantly developing and changing.
Kelly: Thank you for the interview. Want to wish you and Thomas much continued success. Have fun in Chicago!
Ryan: Thanks for doing it. Ok, cool.
Don't miss Project 46, together with Morgan Page and Walden, on the Morgan Page Presents 3D Concert Tour at Concord Music Hall in Chicago, Friday, October 4th, 2013.