An Exclusive Interview With Dylan Owen: A Lyricist That Lives Through His Words
Zachary Franck interviewing Dylan Owen
Dylan Owen is a breath of fresh air in a genre that has drifted from it's roots. Originality, lyrical ability, soulful beats; he has every variable needed to succeed as an independent artist, and he will. Born and raised in Orange County, New York - he carries his youth with him every where he goes. No matter what happens, he'll never stray too far from his roots. As he continues to gain fans, release music and play shows, he's confident that he's headed in the right direction.
And so are we..
ZF: Where are you from and how has it had an effect on who you are as an artist?
DO: I'm from Orange County New York. There wasn't much of a music scene growing up there so it forced me to dig to find underground music that I love. I think that's had a big influence on the way I like to blend influences from all different genres in my music.
ZF: What music inspires you the most, how has your taste changed over the years?
DO: Tons of music inspires me, first and foremost music with great lyrical content. My taste has expanded a lot over the years to include stuff that wasn't on my radar as a kid. I'm now into folk music, singer songwriter music, underground hip-hop, truly pretty much anything you can think of.
ZF: You're definitely a true lyricist. When did you dive into creative writing, and how did that eventually turn into rhyming?
DO: Thanks man. I was into creative writing in fifth or sixth grade, I was writing fiction stories and poetry, writing comics, drawing characters I would make up. That's all I did with my time pretty much. I started writing songs around the sixth grade and rhyming in 7th grade. We would rap battle for fun at school, I would rap battle my older brother's friends that would come over the house...that kind of nonsense played a role in getting me more into it. And then finding hip hop that I loved was the tipping point to turning it into song form.
ZF: Who are your biggest inspirations as an MC?
DO: Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, and Eminem.
ZF: Who are 3 MCs that you'd love to work with in the future?
DO: Astronautalis, Phonte, Common.
ZF: How much does your first solo tour mean to you? How does it feel to an established fan base as an independent artist from a small town?
DO: It means an incredible amount, it is an honor to be able to go to a completely new area and perform for people who love the music and know all of the words to the songs. That's crazy and I couldn't have comprehended that when I started writing songs. My fans make me feel understood, with the things I'm going through and the way I perceive the world...they make me feel reassured and like writing songs has a real purpose that's bigger than just me.
ZF: I saw you just released a single entitled 'Best Man Speech' - what does that song mean to you?
DO: Best Man Speech is an ode to my older brother. Growing up he was my role model, best bud...we went through a lot of shit together and always stuck together. It's everything that I want to say to him on a regular basis, and it's the lens through which I see our childhood memories together. He's coming out to all of the tour shows to see it live...super supportive.
ZF: It's a great song.. Your last release got a lot of great feedback, what is on the musical horizon for Dylan Owen?
DO: Thanks man, glad you dig it. This year I'm going to release individual songs and videos that mean a lot to me, to help tell the individual stories that I touch upon on There's More To Life. I want to let people into my world a little more with each release.
ZF: Your music videos have seriously progressed, as well as your beats. Do you have a tight-knit team of friends and artists that you collaborate with? Or do you outsource?
DO: It's been a tight knit group of friends since the start, slowly involving a couple more people with each release. Skinny Atlas is from the 845 too and he's been the producer behind most of the music since my high school days. On There's More To Life's videos I started working with a new video director named Brian Petchers. He's super dope and has a vision that really aligns with my ideas for everything we work on together. More to come from us all as a team for sure.
ZF: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
DO: I'd love to be performing non stop, writing the music I love to, and have a committed fan base.
ZF: Do you plan on staying independent, or if the right record deal got offered, would you take it?
DO: It would definitely depend on the deal, I'm not against the idea of working with record labels, but I do think that nowadays the most important thing is the artist to fan relationship and so far, I've been able to grow with my fans directly by just doing this from my bedroom and my laptop.
ZF: A lot of crazy stuff is happening in the world every day, it's undoubtedly a scary yet somewhat beautiful time to be alive. We were the last kids to grow up playing in the woods, building forts, using our imagination - yet we also were the first to get a real actual taste of technological advances. An ideal balance that benefits us all. Do you believe that our generation has the potential to change the world for the better?
DO: Absolutely. Nowadays, a kid with an idea can reach the entire world in a matter of moments. A lot of power comes with that access, the doors are wide open for great ideas and great conversations to pick up speed. The trick is keeping the balance. What responsibility do those tools, let's say the internet for example, have for filtering negative things out and helping good things spread? A lot is yet to be determined on that ground, but modern technology enables us more than ever before to have the potential to take it further than we have.
ZF: We both know how bad addiction and drugs have gotten within our generation, I know we've both lost friends to the horrors of opiates and pharmaceuticals. If you could say something to a struggling addict out there that listens to your music for hope, what would it be?
DO: Definitely man it is terrible, and has gotten worse lately in our area. People who struggle with addiction reach out to me and say that the music has moved them and inspired them, and that makes me unbelievably happy to hear. Truthfully whether it's my music or another form of inspiration, I hope it appeals to them in a way that can be motivating, such as leading to them pursuing a passion of theirs, or comforting to know that it's okay to make mistakes and have regrets and not give up. There's no sure-shot cure to addiction, every person's struggle is different. If my music can be of any solace, then that's fantastic and they can count on me to always be here creating and releasing the music.
ZF: You're a small town kid from the Hudson Valley yet you've organically attracted fans from all over the world. Do you believe that music is the universal language, and if so, why do you feel this way?
DO: I think music is a universal language for sure, it allows us to communicate with anyone and everyone in a special way. It enables travel, creates community, facilitates conversation...it's a powerful thing. Of course there are limitations to music as a language, but it's amazing that fans from all over the world can connect with my songs. I don't have the words to describe how that makes me feel, but it's truly an honor and I'll always keep writing for anyone who can be moved, touched, inspired by the music.