By: Shayla Lee
The saying “there’s something in the water in Toronto” has been surrounding the Canadian music industry for a few years now. From Drake and The Weeknd to Jessie Reyez and Alessia Cara, it’s clear that the music scene in the area is thriving. Today I’m sharing one of my new favorite artists who also hails from Toronto, and I think you will fall in love with her music just like I did.
DYLYN’s music is 80’s influenced, pop-heavy, dancey, and is full of great hooks. Her EP ‘Sauvignon and a Kimono’ contains seven hard-hitting songs that will make you dance and cry. After listening to her EP a second or third time (in my case 100 times, I have no shame,) you will realize that her lyrics are deep and all of her songs touch on important issues including anxiety, break-ups, and separation.
We had the chance to cut through the bullshit with DYLYN and we talked about hurting, healing, the deeper meanings behind her songs, and how she created a killer EP during a chaotic time in her life.
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? When did you realize you wanted to become a musician?
DYLYN: Performing has always been a part of my nature. I remember putting on shows for my family at a very young age. At around 15 I started a band and realized it was my passion. Once I discovered some of the greats like Led Zeppelin, Blondie, and Stevie Nicks – it was pretty much decided from there.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
I’ve always appreciated the 80’s and all they experimented with. With technology progressing so much, I think it’s important to blend old sounds with new. There’s something so special about vintage sounds. My sound has a mixture of 80’s synths, my deep vocals, garage style drums, as well all the new incredible sounds that the different production platforms have to offer.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
I absolutely love the attitude that Joan Jett and Debbie Harry brought to not only their music but to their performance as well. They are huge role models in my world. As well as the Queen, Stevie Nicks. I swear she was my sister in another life. If you were to walk into my apartment you’d see a wall of framed album covers, a massive poster of Jimi Hendrix – anything and everything from the 70’s and 80’s.
Congratulations on the release of your EP! Each time I listen to it I feel like I’m transported to a different world. I read in this interview that “sauvignon and kimono was your lifestyle” during the recording process. What was this time of your life like? Can you tell us more about the creation process of your EP?
When shitty things happen in your life you try your best to plow through it and sometimes you can be a little self-destructive. You obviously don’t realize you’re going through it until you’ve past it. My parents split up, I had a bad break up, I lost a few people who I cherished and it seemed like my world was crashing down on me. The only saving grace is that I had a record to write, I had music to connect to. So what do you do in that situation? You have to be honest with yourself, you have to dissect your emotions and figure out what the hell is going on.
It was such a healing experience, maybe I didn’t want to talk about it but I was able to channel those stories and energies into something honest. It’s why I decided to sing in the first place. When you’re sad you put sad songs on and escape – maybe I was addicted to my sadness and thrived from it musically? I wanted to tear my heart out for my music and give people insight into my life through my lyrics and songs. Everyone has stuff going on in their lives, no matter the situation, story, or position a person is in – raw, honest emotion cuts through all the bullshit. I came out healed without even realizing.
Everyone has stuff going on in their lives, no matter the situation, story, or position a person is in – raw, honest emotion cuts through all the bullshit.
“I wake up, it’s 3 pm / have a cigarette for breakfast and I go to the gym” from ‘Sauvignon and a Kimono’ is honestly the best hook I have heard in months. I’ve had it on repeat for a week. Can you tell us more about this track?
Thank you so much. As I mentioned I was in a bit of a self-destructive stage – here I was living in LA and not telling my day-to-day story. I was sitting with my roommate laughing at the fact that I was in a Kimono in the middle of the afternoon, like who am I? What has my life become? Sometimes we need a little R&R, sometimes we have crazy nights with our friends and it’s something to celebrate. It’s about embracing the low times, the rock-bottoms and just fucking living in the moment, even when the moment sucks.
I feel like ‘Secret’ tells the story of my life. Long story short, a few years ago I found out my dad was seeing someone while my parents were together. I felt so much pressure to tell my mom but at the time I didn’t feel like it was my responsibility to tell her. I eventually told her and my parents split up. Crazy time. I’m sure having a creative outlet as you experience hard times is a godsend but is it ever hard to put yourself in such a vulnerable position as an artist? Does it feel scary sharing personal aspects of your life in your music or does it feel liberating?
Thank you so much for sharing that. I am totally with you, I bet it was one of the hardest things you ever had to do. Suddenly we become the adult in awful situations with our parents. I’m sure you’ve grown in ways you can’t even imagine!
I was definitely terrified. I kept avoiding a writing session to even touch on that subject – it was actually the last song I wrote on the album (and it took about 20 minutes!). I just remember thinking, why don’t people ever talk about this from a daughter or son’s perspective? What about us? We go through it just as much as they do. I felt I had to be honest with myself and hoped it would connect with everyone that went through it. It’s about knowing you’re not the only one out there that feels the pain, the children involved feel it just as much no matter their age.
It felt liberating after I released it because it’s not something someone should be ashamed of, it should be a story we tell.
‘American Nightmare’ focuses on breaking free from the expectations of society and living life how you want to live it. (Preach!!) Have you ever felt pressure to be molded into something you’re not in your personal life or as a musician? How do you want to live your life?
I felt a lot of anger when my family “broke” up. I lost a lot of trust in men and in my values because it really did shake my world. When you look at some of your high school friends that are getting married, or someone asks you when are you going to get married – the pressure shouldn’t be there. I truly believe our generation is more in touch with our feelings and finding “ourselves” than any other time or era. I believe there is no time limit for anything or anyone in life. You need to do what makes you happy and not succumb to other people expectations. No matter what you do in life you don’t want to look back in regret or anger, you have to be yourself. Of course I didn’t always think this way, but I’ve finally discovered that being honest with yourself can lead you to discover great things.
No matter what you do in life you don’t want to look back in regret or anger, you have to be yourself.
Anxiety is a central theme of ‘Mimosa’ and the lyrics show the contemplation between fighting the anxiety or letting it consume you. I love that you brought anxiety to light in this song because it’s something that many people experience. When you’re experiencing pressure or anxiety, how do you cope?
Anxiety is very much a real thing and again I think it’s important to talk about. Whether it’s biting your nails, not texting someone back, or just not being able to bring yourself to go out – it should be voiced. I’m a nail biter, and anxiety can definitely get the best of me but I don’t see it as a weakness – I try my best to embrace it. Tips? Sometimes meditating helps, I wish I liked yoga but I am just not that flexible and I get crazy when it’s so quiet in the room haha. I’ve come to a point where sometimes you just need to breathe and let it go. It sounds easier than it actually is but centering yourself, concentrating on breathing helps you reconnect.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman in the music industry? If so, how did you overcome the adversity and do you have any advice for other women going through a challenge?
Women are definitely the minority in the music industry and I think it’s extremely important for us to be supportive of each other. The best advice I can give a woman is to have a good attitude and never consider another woman as competition – you are your own person – embrace that. Never conform to something you don’t feel comfortable doing and always be true to yourself. We are resilient and strong in nature – that is something no one can ever take away from us.
Never consider another woman as competition – you are your own person – embrace that.
Last question! What can we expect from you this year? Hopefully you’ll make it to the west coast sometime soon!
I’m going on tour in Germany in May. I am so excited to get back on the road and play for people it’s why I do what I do. Definitely more touring and writing more music as well 🙂
We want to thank DYLYN for doing this interview and for the kind words and inspiration. You can stay up-to-date with DYLYN’s life by following her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If you live in Germany and want to see her perform live, tickets for her tour can be found here. Two out of the five shows are already sold-out so hop on the DYLYN train now and get your tix! Get ready to dance and blast ‘Sauvignon in a Kimono’ below!