Los Angeles, California
Folk singer Dylan Dunlap, from LA, California is know for his incredible range and impossibly smooth vocals. While listeners are often first swept into Dunlap's world by his voice, they tend to stick around for his thought-provoking lyrics. A big user of social media, Dunlap posts YouTube videos frequently and is constantly updating fans with news about his music on Instagram. We caught up with Dunlap just as his latest single, Ella, was being released.
G: How did you get started in music? Who were your early musical influences?
D: I actually started music at a pretty young age. I was 6 when I decided to teach myself how to mess around on the piano in order to hopefully impress a girl at a 2nd grade talent show! I was always surrounded by a musical environment when I’d visit my dad, and it made me discover how cool of a concept it was to express yourself through song. My early influences consisted of Coldplay and how I grew up following their musical evolution. Just seeing how they kept such an innovative sound throughout all of those years was so inspiring to me.
G: What made you decide to go to school for music?
D: I took one year at Berklee College of Music, because I firmly believe that we all have room to grow and learn. I originally wanted to balance film scoring on top of songwriting, but slowly discovered my passion for being a solo artist. Since being back in Los Angeles, I’ve worked every single day on my craft and have been building towards a full-length album to hopefully be put out by springtime of 2016.
G: You’ve made comments on your Instagram about feeling the need to stay genuine as a musician, give music for free when people need it, not “sell out” essentially. Are these actions based on your foundational beliefs of what a musician’s role in society is? If so, what do you see your role in society (as an artist) to be?
D: Here is my belief. I believe that, as artists, each and every one of us deserves to be compensated for our hard work. I have expressed through social media that if anyone wants to have the song on them, but can’t afford it or can’t obtain it for whatever reason, I will make sure that they can. I think that we all have our own paths that we’re meant to walk down, but if we’re specifically talking about mine, I want to let it be known that I’m solely doing this to help others. To me, Ella has an important message behind it, and if it can simply assist just ONE human being down the line and let them know that they’re not alone in this world, I will be so humbled and honored to have been able to help that happen.
G: What is your biggest struggle as an independent artist? And, what are the best benefits about it?
D: Oh man. Haha there are so many struggles as an independent artist, but there are also so many beautiful things about it. What I find most difficult is the fact that you tend to hit a wall with social media when you do this on your own. To organically build a family of supporters, you have to stay incredibly patient. I think I’ve definitely come a long way with that thought process, and I have no problem with working as hard as I need to work in order to create a bigger community.
G: Can you tell us a bit about your new single Ella? Either a bit about the story behind it, or what you hope listeners will get from it?
D: Ella was most definitely a handful at the start! I wrote it back in January and began producing it in my bedroom studio. Believe it or not, there were at least six different sessions and dozens of mixes of it that were created. I’m kind of a hermit when it comest to ProTools. I guess it’s a part of my OCD, but I truly feel the need to get the ENTIRE idea out of my head before I’m comfortable with shutting the computer off. That being said, I have probably spent a few thousand hours on this one and I don’t regret a single one of them. Ella is a fictional character who struggles with her self-worth and what she truly deserves in regards to love. I think that it’s a really cool mental evolution that happens with her, and how she realizes that she can move forward and let herself go while also keeping her barriers up. I’ve unfortunately seen so many people get hurt in my life because of the whole “we accept the love we feel we deserve” concept, and I guess I just felt it was necessary to write a brutally honest song about that.
G: More generally, what do you want listeners to get out of your music?
D: I want each listener to feel like there’s actually somebody out there that gets them. Somebody out there that is willing to extend a hand and wants to help eliminate self-isolation.
G: You touch on mental illness in your music, can you speak a bit to that?
D: There is a demo of mine called Who I Am that I put out a couple years ago which really dives into my struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I really think that it was the inspiration at that specific time to write about discovering the ability to embrace the “chemical imbalances” and fill myself with pride of being the human being that I am today. I also spoke about it, as well as the depression that I was diagnosed with in a piece called April 25th, 2011. I think it all leads back to the simple idea of wanting to show others that I’m not afraid to share my personal experiences with the world. It’s unbelievable how much beautiful feedback I’ve gotten from those that have been able to relate to my stories.
G: When can listeners expect a new album?
D: 2016 is going to be the year. I can feel it. Let’s shoot for springtime, yeah? :)
G: What are your favourite things to do in your free time?
D: You know what’s funny? I have more of an obsession with films than I do with music. Call me crazy, but I make an effort to see almost every movie that comes out in theaters! It’s just such a refreshing way to put the phone down and clear my head. I also really enjoy reading. I’m currently on a book called Every Day by David Levithan.
G: Finally, what are five things you can’t live without?
D: Five things I can’t live with out. Hmm. Fred, my obese cat. Chipotle. Chai lattes. A grand piano. My mom.
G: Thank you for your time! We look forward to the new album.