DYLAN JOEL’S FIRST ALBUM IS HIGH ON INSTRUMENTATION AND LOW ON FEATURE SPOTS. HE EXPLAINS TO RIP NICHOLSON THAT HE WANTS TO MAKE A STATEMENT.
DYLAN JOEL interviewed @ 11:15 AEST Thursday, October 1, 2015
For Street Press Australia [READ HERE]
“I wanted to make my mark. ‘I’m here and I can do this on my own,’” declares Joel. “I really felt like, being that it was my debut album it’s so easy to get an amazing vocalist to sing the hook or get a whole bunch of feature artists that everyone knows. For me, I wanted to sing my own hooks and show people what I can do and make my statement.”
A rapper, songwriter and guitarist out of Melbourne, Dylan Joel started his career in 2012, dropping the radio-hit single Leveled and winning triple j Unearthed’s Pyramid Rock comp. The momentum he gained rolled into That’s Good, a mixtape album high on guest performances. This time around Joel preferred to keep to himself to prove he could introduce his debut album with the least amount of help. Co-produced by Cam Bluff, Authentic Lemonade is freshly squeezed cool musicianship unlike anything else being stocked on the shelves.
“By the time the album was three-quarters of the way through being written I realised the majority of the songs were based around the idea of just being yourself, being genuine and the importance of staying true to who you are,” says Joel. “I thought what’s something in the world that is like an item or a product, that is something more commonly found to be an overproduced and inauthentic copy and something for which it’s harder to find a more authentic version and I realised, ‘Oh! Lemonade.’ It’s always stocked and overproduced, a real confectionary item and you can rarely find a really good, freshly squeezed lemonade.
“So many people have helped me on the album as it is, which makes it hard to really say it’s all mine. But, at the same time, I really wanted to put my whole self into it,” he added.
Authentic Lemonade makes for a refreshing opus from the young MC whose only album collaboration comes with renowned spitter Mantra featuring DJ Izm (Bliss N Eso) on the cuts for his second single Swing.
“I only want to put features on songs if they’re actually going to create another element to the song that I can’t. And for most of the songs it didn’t feel like they necessary needed that. That was where with Swing I felt that this needed extra peeps on it, this is a posse track! It needs some of my homies… They’ve both been huge idols to me.”
With Authentic Lemonade now out, Joel is gearing himself up for a decent-sized national tour and, coming off a Seth Sentry support slot, he’s more than ready.
“I’m just excited to do us. Seth has been saying on tour how much of a positive vibe we bring and that’s kinda our thing, we want to make music that people can really take home, they can leave the night feeling enlightened. I’m really hyped for that man, really excited just to play to whoever comes.”
Conversation with Dylan Joel
New album’s polished and ready. You nervous or excited?
Excited, yeah. I think I had nerves a little while ago but I’m at the point where I’m just excited for it to come out now.
This is your first full-length project? Did it come out as you had envisioned?
Well originally it was meant to be a 7-track EP then we kept making songs and they all blended. But I was so stoked on them i sorta added them in and readjusted what we were doing and turned it into an album. So, no it wasn’t as I had envisioned.
So did it become a matter of you had a few more songs than an EP could fit and you pushed on to make further tracks or was it a process of cutting down to 12 tracks?
I think we ended up only cutting like one or two tracks. So we pretty much made all the instrumentals, I co-produced the album with Cam Bluff who was executive producer and we make about 14 songs and cut two of them. We thought these two don’t suit the rest of the record as much. How I like to work is i like to if i’m starting a song and i’m feeling it i work on it until I feel like it’s releasable. The 12 songs we just kept working on until we felt like they were ready.
I don’t often ask such a cliched question but I dig the title of your album ’Authentic Lemonade’ how did that come about?
Thank you. I’m stoked seriously that you dig it. By the time the album was 3/4 of the way through being written I realised the majority of the songs were based around the idea of just being yourself, being genuine and the importance of staying true to who you are and then I was like OK well there’s being authentic enough and I thought what’s something in the world that is, like an item or a product, that is something that is more commonly found to be an overproduced and inauthentic copy or version and something for which it’s harder to find a more authentic version and I realised, ‘Oh! lemonade.’ It’s always stocked and overproduced, a real confectionary item and you can rarely find a really good, freshly squeezed lemonade. So, that was kinda the idea of it, yeah.
When I hear the title it was before I had seen the artwork for the cover and I thought he should have a kid’s lemonade stand, letters jumbled up or misspelled working two decks.
That’s what we were thinking, ‘we should make a lemonade stand and get some kids to sell it’.
It’s been two years between lemonades. Have you still been creating music during this down time?
Nah man, I mean I’ve had a bit of down time. When a record’s done I like to take a month off writing and stuff just to catch up with friends and family stuff you don’t get to do. But, I didn’t have a huge break. Pretty much when the tail of my mixtape was at it’s end I jumped in the studio with Cam and we pretty much just started working on idea together so it’s kinda been pretty consistent and even when I wasn’t writing tracks for the record I was still just writing. I was writing songs, playing guitar a lot more and singing more to try and work on my performance and craft in my spare time. So I’ve always, since the last record, been working on stuff.
On tracks like ‘Swing’ it showed great use of throwback instrumentation. Having Tim Coghill’s drums and horns from Igmar Thomas too on the album, was that always part of the plan to make a hip-hop album with real strong musicianship?
No. To be completely honest, it wasn’t. By the time we finished production of the record we sat down and I had recorded most of my vocals at that point and then we started listening through it and we realised there were so many live elements to the record that we actually just produced ourselves on program and we looked at them and thought, ‘I think we can make this better and really turn this up a notch’. So, Cam and I made the decision to start tracking in and replaying a lot of the instrumentation live. Drums were definitely part of the original plan to make our own drum-breaks, which we did with Tim Coghill early on. The rest was like live brass and live bass and we got a gospel keys player Damian Smith to replay a lot of the key and we ended up adding them in when the album was kinda on its way to being done. So, it wasn’t the original plan but that’s just the way the structure of the songs went. We felt it was necessary to get more live instrumentation and I’ve always been a really big fan of making music through live instrumentation. So I kinda wanted to make the most of that.
You versed Mantra in the dope track ‘Swing’ and that gained a lot of hype. With he and Izm, they’re the only collab on the new album. Did you want to keep the album pretty solo?
I did, actually. I really felt like being that it was my debut album it’s so easy to get an amazing vocalist to sing the hook or get a whole bunch of feature artists that everyone knows. For me, I was like, ‘I want my debut album to be me, you know?’ I wanted to sing my own hooks and show people what I can do and make my statement.
Well this way you know that the applause you may get for your music is all for you.
Yeah, I guess so, man. So many people have helped me on the album as it is, which makes it hard to really say it’s all mine. But at the same time I really wanted to put my whole self into it and especially being my debut, I want to make my mark; ‘I’m here and I can do this on my own’.
Full credit for that.
Thank you man. And I guess the other part to me is I only want to put features on songs that I think need something. I only want to put a feature act on if they’re actually going to create another element to the song that I can’t. And for most of the songs it didn’t feel like they necessary needed that. That was where with ‘Swing’ I felt that this needed extra peeps on it, this is a posse track! It needs some of my homies, so that was really fun man. Getting those two on and they’ve both been huge idols to me.
You’re in circles mixing with Bliss N Eso, Seth Sentry – even jumping in on his national tour. Is everything a learning experience when you’re around these guys?
Man, so much. Like, so many of those guys – Drapht as well. Drapht has been really good to us lately and is really liking what we are doing, so yeah man I love their music, they’re all the guys that got me into hip-hop. Being a kid from Australia it was harder to access American hip-hop and that was the first stuff I heard. So I have always loved and admired their music. Definitely a learning experience I’m always wide-eyed and ears-open to hearing what they have to say and do. There is so much to learn, like so much about industry, about creative writing, when it’s important to give people creative rights and so on. Man I learn heaps from those guys and still really admire them and look up to what they do.
Decent sized tour, man. Are you surprised with the success across the country?
Yeah man, yeah,. I’m really excited for that. The response from the first show has been great. People really vibe with what we’re doing so that’s when we were like, it’s probably worth us doing our own tour. I’m really hyped for that man, really excited just to play to whoever comes.
What brand of shenanigans can fans look forward to on a Dylan Joel tour?
I’m just excited to do us. Seth has been saying this all the time, and he announces us on every show on tour, of how much of a positive vibe we bring and that’s kinda our thing, we want to make music that people can really take something away. They can leave the night feeling enlightened or like they’ve been given something to hold onto. Man, I’m really stoked bro. And it will be all live instrumentation, too. Live drummer, and a live bass player who also plays keys and they all sing vocals so it should be cool. And I will be playing guitar, too.