Monday, December 15, 2014 at 10:46AM
Melbourne MC Dylan Joel is on the come-up having just released his latest single 'Numbers' with a massive response and support from the Aussie hip-hop community. Dylan is a force of talent, combining solid sampling techniques with live instrumentation, down-to-earth lyrics and striking vocal harmonies. He has supported Aussie hip-hop legends Bliss N Eso and Illy, and is hitting the road with fast-paced US rapper, Watsky in December this year. 'Numbers' will feature on his debut album due to drop in early 2015.
We chat to Dylan about his upcoming tour with Watsky, what we can expect from his debut album, and current issues that are prevalent in the music industry. Ayla Dhyani writes.
Your latest single ‘Numbers” highlights the issues in the music industry where artists can become overindulgent in receiving recognition above creating quality sounds. Does this reflect on your own experiences in any way?
I’m so stoked you guys picked up on that. That’s spot on. I think it’s just one of those things that just consistently comes up. I mean, in every part of making music and being an artist there’s always somehow a way for numbers to take over from the quality of the art. If you do a live show, the only thing the industry want to know is how many numbers you pull. They’re not really too phased about coming out to see it, but they just want to know how many tickets you sold in the end. Then with new tracks, they’re only focused on how many radio plays you get, and how many people have downloaded or listened to the track. And it’s like “man, what about actually caring about what it sounds like and how much you dig it?” So it’s been a never-ending trial and test to try to stay grounded in why I appreciate what I do, and not get drowned out by the fact that some things go viral and some don’t. So it’s pretty interesting just watching it all. It goes the other way as well. I know so many artists that I think are have such great talent, especially in Australia, and they’re just super underrated because none of their tracks get a whole lot of views or downloads. It’s hard to watch when you know how quality it is, but I guess there’s always something else that’s trending a little harder.
You worked with producer, Cam Bluff, who's done a lot of work with Hilltop Hoods, Illy and Allday. How was the experience working with him on the album?
It was awesome. I met Cam for the first time about two years ago and just touched base and talked about collaborating for the album. I never really initially planned to do the whole album with Cam but we ended up doing it. With the first couple of tracks we made, we just hit it off and a really similar vision to how we wanted to style the album. I think it’s actually super rare to find someone you can pretty much run every track with and co-produce an album with, and pretty much agree with everything. So yeah, I was pretty appreciative of the fact that we hit it off so well.
How’s the album coming along?
Yeah, it’s pretty much finished. Just in its final stages of mixing and mastering, so the whole album is done essentially. All the content has been recorded, but we’re just kind of pacing it in terms of how we’re getting in mixed and mastered. With ‘Numbers’, we had a really clear vision, but the rest of the album we’re kind of experimenting with a niche style. So I’m really happy with it. It’s my first album actually. So for me it was a pretty big deal to commit to doing my debut album release, but there’s absolutely nothing I would change. I’m struggling to pick a least favourite track, so I guess that’s a good sign.
Your collaborative project ‘That’s Good’ that was released last year with Otis Grey, pays homage to the origin of hip-hop. Tell us how that came about.
Well I have a lot of really good mates and homies in Toronto. I’ve actually been over quite a few times. I played my first show over there last year, which was rad. So I pretty much had a big group of friends over there. One of them, Otis Grey, had been sampling a whole lot of different sounds, and we’d just been sending each other new beats and essentially collaborating over email and Skype. Then ended up just going crazy. So I ended up booking a ticket and flying over to Toronto and spent about a month and a half just sampling all these beats with him and then writing to them as well. Then I came back home and ended up recording it all at M-Phaze’s studio and just put it out as mixtape free release for all the cheap arses. So yeah, it was really cool. I really dug it going overseas and just working on a project, and getting all these different inspirations and new influences. It was great. For me it was also a little project to test myself a bit and just grow as an artist.
You were featured in Michelle Grace Hunder’s RISE book as well. How did that feel?
Super sick. That project was unreal. It was such a cool idea and concept. She pulled it off amazingly. It was a big task. I can’t remember how many artists were in there. I think it was like 180 or something, but to actually fly across the entire country and capture each artist in their element was just unreal. So it was a real privilege to be featured in that. I’ve only been doing hip-hop for a few years, so I didn’t think I’d really make the cut. I know a lot of people didn’t, as she couldn’t really fit every single artist. So to be asked to be in it was unreal. I was super stoked. We actually toured for the book as well. So we toured around Australia, playing in pretty much every main city with about eight of us artists, which was awesome. Being on a line-up with so many other hip-hop artists was a real testament to how different the sound can be as well. I mean quite often everyone could easily get categorized as just rap and hip-hop, but to just put them all next to each other, just proved how different the artistry is.
You’ve supported some big names in Aussie hip-hop, like Illy and Bliss N Eso. Did you have any surreal moments?
Yeah, it’s been cool. I mean after a while you kind of meet everyone and start networking. So it’s a pretty easy transition to be honest. The first time I supported Illy was almost two years ago now, so for me I’ve known him for a while. But Bliss N Eso was definitely a shock. I’d pretty much grown up listening to their stuff in all honesty. For me, my first introduction into Australian hip-hop was Hilltop Hoods and Bliss N Eso, so I used to just crank both of their records all the time, and that’s what really got me into writing my first bars. So to actually be on a tour with the Bliss N Eso boys was super sick. And we hit it off really well, which was awesome.
What can we expect from your upcoming tour with Watsky?
That’s a good call. In all honesty, I would say the Watsky tour would probably be the first time that we’ve ever really played any of the album tracks live, so people can probably expect to hear a far chunk of the album. And I always like to play with a live band, so definitely some good vibes with live music.
What stimulates your soul?
That’s a sick question. Glad you asked that. I think meeting real, authentic people. I love it when people are just honestly themselves and don’t’ let anything else falter away from that. That’s definitely a big one, and something that I value a lot.
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