It has been a whirlwind two years for Canadian progressive house duo Project 46. While they may live on opposite ends of the country Ryan Henderson and Thomas Shaw have found an undeniable groove and their breakneck output simply never falters. With endless pancake delights and hit collaborations with the likes of Kaskade, Laidback Luke and Paul Oakenfold, Project 46 proudly clocks in at number 70 on the DJ Mag Top 100 poll: joining Deadmau5 and Richie Hawtin as the only Canadians to currently represent our countries diverse musical landscape.
Initially bonding over a mutual love for a catchy beat Ryan and Thomas’ original productions come from a place of elation. Their aim is simple—don’t take things too seriously and enjoy the end product. If their audience leaves happier than they were prior to experiencing Project 46’s music they have done their job.
In anticipation of their closing set for Seasons Festival tomorrow night, we jumped at the opportunity to sit down with Project 46 and delve deeper into just what makes them tick as a duo.
Blueprint: Predating your first production what was your main marketing and branding goal for Project46? And over the course of the last two years have you stayed true to your original intentions and achieved your goals?
Project 46: We didn’t have any branding goals or marketing plans when we started releasing music…that stuff all came later. Things like Pancake Friday and all the fun free downloads kind of came after.
Blueprint: Ryan, how has the dance music scene evolved since the time you booked Avicii for five hundred dollars and a Hawaiian pizza?
Project 46: Obviously the scene has got a lot bigger, and so has Avicii. When it comes to booking artists, I mean at the time I was part of the Avicii booking, it was really just a favor to him. No one really knew who he was yet and I’d just spent the previous Saturday hanging out with him. When we did radio ads for the show we had to use his track ‘Alcoholic.’
Blueprint: Thomas, what was it like beginning Project46 from a musical standpoint when Ryan was, at least initially, predominantly focused on business proceedings? And Ryan was there a steep learning curve for you as you dove head first into the realm of producing EDM?
Project 46: I don’t think I started Project 46 from a business standpoint, it really was about the music and our commitment to getting material done that we were proud of. I really didn’t think about the business side of it until quite a bit after. If you listen to our early releases they were nowhere near the quality they needed to be at. We did it because we loved it and the music seemed to get better, and that’s when I realized that using some of my business and marketing knowledge might help make this something we could make a living off of.
Blueprint: How would you define a Project46 set?
Project 46: ForOrginial. A word we kind of made up. It will be filled with tons of material you might be familiar with, but will be a remix, bootleg or mashup of ours. A lot of unreleased tracks are also tested during our sets. So “ForOrginial” means people will be familiar with a lot of what they hear but the set will still be very original. Hope that made sense.
Blueprint: Dance music is all about progression: artists are expected to have a weekly radio show, endless singles, continually original sets, and a distinct sound. Do you feel that the business of EDM is to blame for ghost producers, pre-recorded sets, and artist flare-outs?
Project 46: The music business has been full of brands, ghost producers and suits way before EDM, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon in my opinion. Every good artist has a good team behind him or her and that is essential to success. I really don’t think too much about what people are doing though, good music is good music and I just try to enjoy it.
Blueprint: What everyday luxuries do you miss the most while you on tour?
Project 46: Sleep. We miss being able to sleep in our own beds. It’s really the simple things you miss more than the luxuries.
Blueprint: The frantic rate at which dance music fans seek out and consume live sets, bootlegs, and remixes is getting excessive: thoughts?
Project 46: I don’t think that’s much of a problem; there’s a ton of artists to appease the hungry fans. I also think artists like Alesso are doing quite well with minimal output. I think it’s important to put out good material and not really worry about putting out a lot of material.
Blueprint: Recently you told White Raver Rafting: “a great song is useless if it’s not heard. That’s where the marketing and the business come into play.” Can you tell Blueprint readers a bit about the business behind releasing tracks?
Project 46: There is just so much to think about when releasing a track: radio, blogs, charting, social media, artist support, track branding and so much more. To be honest, we are really still learning. Our first big release went # 1 overall on Beatport, but in the 2 years since then we have not been able to do it again. So we had some beginners luck and still have a lot to learn.
Blueprint: At this stage in EDM’s North American takeover are artists/fans more focused on the party or the music?
Project 46: I mean, we don’t get to party very much with all the travel and lack of sleep, and the odd days we decide to indulge we pay for it the next day. So for us it is about the music. For the fans, hopefully it’s equally about both. Its music, enjoy it, have fun and don’t take it so serious.
Blueprint: In three words what makes a Project 46 production standout?
Project 46: Music that evokes emotion…four words…sorry.
Blueprint: You have an artist album on the horizon, at this point in time are there any details you can use to tease fans about what’s to come?
Project 46: We are just putting it together now. Expect a lot of melodic, lyrical-based music. We are super proud of what we have coming together and we hope everyone else enjoys the music as much as we enjoyed making it.
Blueprint: Last Chance with Kaskade has been a colossus single for you guys. How has the track affected your career and is there any chance that you will continue to collaborate with Kaskade?
Project 46: Kaskade is massive. So being attached to him in anyway is obviously going to help get our name and music out. We got super lucky being able to collaborate with him and we hope to again. We did a remix for his next single and we keep in touch. So hopefully something cool happens.
Blueprint: Every club has its own unique atmosphere, what vibe does Celebrities emit and what can the crowd expect from your Season’s Festival closing set on April 20th?
Project 46: Celebrities is special to us. It really feels like home. Thomas has lived here his whole life and I lived here for a couple years at one point. Since it’s renovation it really is one of the better artist clubs around and the crowd is always amazing. You can also expect us to test out a lot of new music from our album!
Tickets are still available for the duo’s long weekend blowout tomorrow night at Celebrities and we can’t think of a better way to close out this year’s Seasons Festival then with Canada’s rising progressive stars Project 46.
– Ryan Hayesget tickets