Get to know dylAn, the artist bringing his own style and flavor to the game while standing on his own. dylAn is a talented artist out of California (and Florida) who is breaking the mold of your typical Rap styles. He’s definitely an artist to watch for in 2018 and he has youth on his side. A true standout artist, dylAn pushes forward with his true-to-life stories, complete with tales of love and tales of depression — this really touches a chord with his listeners.
Recently, I got a chance to catch up with dylAn during a recent trip to New York and we discussed life and new music, all while chilling with his sister and a few of his close friends — a great experience that is sure to translate via the interview below.
First off, Happy New Year! How’s your day going so far? What have you been up to?
Happy New Year man! First off, Shouts out to you and RESPECT. Magazine, for real. The day is going good, just been hanging out, relaxing, skateboarding a little bit. Ah man you know, just working on new music, killing these performances and shows, doing a bit of traveling.
Let’s go back to the start. Would you tell us how you started doing music, and what was the main focus for you when you started?
Man, like, four or five years ago, I had just moved back to Woodland Hills, Ca. (in the San Fernando Valley) living with my brother Daniel D’artiste and around the end of that Summer, I went back to Miami, which is where I was previously living, to visit family and skate with my friends. Long story short, I met this girl, Summer, took her to my “treehouse,” Tower 158, on 158th St. and Collins Avenue on Sunny Isles Beach. It was a very important night and pivotal moment in my life. I was inspired, and I wrote a poem titled “The End Of Summer.” When I went back home a few days later, my brother told me how he too had recently met someone and was making an entire album about his experience, called The End of Summer…my eyes lit up with excitement, and I knew at that point I was destined to make music. I was on his album, and later on made my first ever song, “Tower 158” which was inspired by Summer, and it was my first ever official release on SoundCloud, and the rest is history.
The main focus back then was just to express feelings I couldn’t really communicate, due to my insecurities and social anxieties, so it was more so an escape, an outlet. That, and to impress women (laughs)! If I’m being completely honest. Nowadays, I’m focused on telling stories and going deep into past experiences, pushing the boundaries and really sharing a piece of my mind with the world, because I know I’m not alone in relation to the way that I feel, or think. And I’m over making sad songs so, shifting the energy focus too.
So as of now, you’re gearing up to drop your full debut album that has been buzzing for some time now. What were some of your main inspirations for this upcoming project and how long would you say you have been working on this project?
Yes, Kids Keep Secrets (KKS). Some of my main inspirations off top would be Mac Miller, J’von, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Drake, Jaden Smith, Ian Frequency, ya know, lyricism wise, bars wise, kinda felt like competing with these guys allowed me to enter a new realm of flows. Overall sound wise, Lido, Daniel D’artiste, Corinne Bailey Rae, Aanysa, Mr. Hudson, Cashmere Cat, in a more sound-design, production sense.
I’ve been working on this project now honestly for about three years. It started with the idea of Banana Peels Are Orange, which morphed into Toilet, then Stupid Kid, and now, Kids Keep Secrets. So, it’s a collection of things I made back then mixed with new ideas and production, intertwined with what I’m making now; I was in a different musical headspace back then, but somehow it meshes well with what I’m currently doing.
Aside from your breakout video and single “Lemons,” you’ve released another song titled “42” that is buzzing heavy and the video just brings that song out even more recently. You also released a new track titled “Next” that is doing numbers. How did those new releases come together?
S***, well, “42” was a f***ing mix up of cinematic inspirations we compiled with the thought of this message we wanted to portray. You know, we wanted to really say something, make a statement! Jaden [even] called me and said [that] ‘this “42” video is on the level of like Nikes…’
“42” is a bold statement that needs to be seen by the world. We wanted to show a side of the world most people aren’t comfortable with. I get judged for just painting my nails and wearing crop-tops and skirts and shit. It’s like, screw hypermasculinity and the stereotyping, let’s do something really different and shock people by nonchalantly throwing it in the video like it was nothing. Essentially it was, it’s just dudes kissing at the end, but in my opinion, it shows the parallels of both sides and how comfortable we are with accepting violence in our society, versus free love. I’m just a fluid guy. F*** it.
“Next” was crazy man, I loved it so much we went and dropped the rough version on my SoundCloud. But yea, I was over at the Genius studio in Brooklyn, and [Stephen Niday] was playing through beats and loops and s*** he had made and was working with, and he came across that. I instantly knew what I wanted to rap about, what I wanted to say; I didn’t even have to write. It’s one of my favorite songs, I’m excited to put the full CDQ version on my album.
As an artist, you have a strong connection to the MSFTS brand…how did that start?
Man that’s family, for real. I was around when that whole thing started so, I would consider myself a Golden Age day-one MSFT. That’s my peoples you know, like actually some of the closest people to me, all of ‘em! Before the clothes, and the music, and the label, we’ve just always shown each other love and supported one another heavy! And we just stuck close over the years.
What was your favorite moment during your visit to NYC thus far? I know you had your intimate show…
The main focus was to just explore man, meet people and stuff — I recorded a lot of new songs too; been working on a lot of music. The show was f***ing awesome, it was really cold but, I had a great time. Fifteen/twenty kids came out to Battery Park to watch me perform some songs off my album. My man Andrew came through with two big ass amp speakers and a mic, and I did like four or five songs, including “Moon In My Room.” It was a beautiful moment, seriously. We ended up getting shut down by some f***ing park ranger guy, but it was worth it in my opinion, super tight! And it just gave a chance for people who really f*** with me to like, listen to the new s***, talk to me, ask me questions, I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like that before, I was extremely surprised by the turnout, it was tight as hell. People f*** with capital A in New York.
My favorite moment would be smoking weed with my little sister and some friends at Battery Park, across the Statue of Liberty. The view of the lake and everything, the statue, I don’t know, it was breathtaking. Realizing I was in New York for music, doing music, it was really tight. I shed a tear to be completely honest. I was listening to [D’artiste’s] new music. 2018 is going to be big for him.
Other than music, what are some things you have in motion as you look to brand yourself as not only as an artist, but also as a talented creative?
Well, I’m working on merch, obviously, also my own brand of nail polish, with exclusive colors and packaging. I’ve been working on that for like two years, really hope that comes together, it’s gonna be gnarly. I’ll be releasing clothes as well, with my own custom patchwork and stuff, 1 of 1’s, I’ve been heavy on a sewing machine, also by hand.
Anything else planned for 2018?
More shows, more videos, my album. Hopefully a tour. I’m gonna be doing a mixtape too, at some point, as a phase of KKS, I’m really excited for that. Also gonna be introducing a new way of tweeting and releasing information on my social media accounts. I’m hyped! Oh, I plan on getting new glasses, big plan for 2018. Facts.