WORDS RACHEL EDWARDS - PHOTOGRAPHY LIZA MOLNAR - FASHION MAISIE DANIELS - HAIR ELLE CLANCY USING LARRY KING VOLUMISING MIST; LARRY KING SOCIAL LIFE FOR YOUR HAIR CREAM; REDKEN HIGH MOUSSE; REDKEN WIND BLOWN
I met singer songwriter Dylan on a dreary day in London at a time when yet another lockdown was looming. Actually I distinctly remember lying on the floor where the interview would take place in a dramatic, or in hindsight, pathetic manner, hoping that my third coffee of the morning was going to hit when the six foot tall singer bounded into the room, ignoring the empty couches to join me on the floor where she remained, tea in hand, for the duration of the interview.
I fast realised that you don't need coffee when Dylan's around. It was hard to believe that she'd had been up since 5am driving from her family home in Suffolk to get there. “I have so much energy because I’ve had no human contact other than my family for months” she grins. It might sound tough but this period of isolation marked a turning point in the 21 year old’s career, giving her the space to find her true voice and the confidence to express her emotions through her lyrics.
On the surface she’s feisty but spend more than five minutes with her and you’ll realise she’s a softie at heart. With her quick wit and uncanny ability to read people it took her no time to build a solid fanbase of people who relate to her lyrics.
I find it almost impossible to finish the interview, my mind constantly racing to ‘just one more’ question, as is the nature of an interview with somebody like Dylan, whose anecdotes have us both (literally) rofling at points (there's a reason she's now a TikTok sensation). If she can keep up this kind of energy and momentum during a year like the one we just had, I’m excited to see what the future holds.
R.E Hey Dylan! Is your real name Dylan? D: No it’s Tash - Dylan is what my parents were going to call me if I was a boy... and I really didn’t want to be called Tash! They still call me Tash but everyone in the industry calls me Dyl or Dylan. I’m so used to having two names now!
RE: How did you get here today? D: I drove miles to get here!
R.E: Where’s home? D: Suffolk. I was in London last year but I moved home just because it was getting a bit expensive and there’s no real reason for staying in London if no work is going on!
R.E: How has it been? D: It’s been really good - I’m not angry at the whole corona thing because it’s given me so much time to find my real sound and discover what really feels like me. I’m so happy with how it’s all sounding and where it’s going and the music that’s about to come out!
R.E: That’s interesting - do you think your style has changed a lot from before Covid hit until now?
D: Definitely, I think before I never really addressed how I was feeling, I used to only write about the way some people treated me.
R.E (Laughs) No way, so your songs were just really bitchy? D: I wouldn't say bitchy, I would say very very defensive!!!
R.E: Did you have code names for them? D: After my last EP came out I had about five different people texting me asking me if the song was about them!
R.E: (Laughs) Exes? D: Oh yeah, oh yeah! Classic Taylor Swift move.
R.E: I was just going to say that! You are the next Taylor Swift! D: (Laughs) Yeah, “don’t date her”! But it’s been amazing for that because I went through a phase where I was like “no one's going to hear these songs” because we were experimenting so much so I was like fuck it... I’m just going to start writing about my feelings and the whole mood of the songs changed. They’re so much bigger and so much more true to me so it just made sense to keep writing like that. And it’s weird because they were the songs I was writing at 16 and the last two EPs were me writing what I thought people wanted to hear rather than what I liked.
R.E: Yes! Isn’t it telling that you said you felt more ‘you’ when you were 16... It’s so cliche but whenever anyone feels a bit lost they can look back at when they were younger and sort of work out what they enjoyed because it was authentic, before we all overthought everything!
D: Exactly! I found a producer called Dan just before we went into the first lockdown and ended up doing the whole of the next EP with him. So last November he came round for two and a half weeks to my living room and we built a studio and just recorded everything!
R.E: So each day were you just waking up and going straight into it? D: We only actually worked once before that and that was the day before we went into lockdown in March and I had to run off home halfway through the session!
R.E: It must have been an instant click then? Or else inviting him into your home would have been such a risk! D: (Laughs) We bonded over zoom! and because we clicked so well it just meant that we were experimenting more and the music that I was doing was new to him as it was to me. So we did a session every week for the whole of last year and came up with the most ridiculous shit but some of it was really really good!
R.E: So I was looking at your Instagram and it’s really fun. You’re actually one of the few people I see actually smiling in your photos! I swear nobody smiles in photos anymore! I tried to take some pictures smiling after and I looked like a psychopath so you know, not for me. But would you say you’re a positive person?
D: Umm I think in the last year I’ve become more of a positive person than I was because I met a few people who changed my perception on life. Before that, I was like “this is all shit. I want to be alone”. (Laughs) So there was a massive switch up! Like everyone I get down a lot, especially with everything that’s going on but music has always been the one constant.
R.E: So you always knew you’d be a musician? D: Yeah! My dad was big into his rock n roll so I was brought up on ACDC, Aerosmith, Guns ‘n’ Roses and all of that dad rock. He had me on the table at 5 or 6 years old with a fake guitar shouting “Hello Wembley!”.
R.E: It’s funny as well because sometimes people who grow up with parents who listen to a certain type of music end up going the other way and thinking their music taste is super lame. D: (Laughs) Yeah not me, I was obsessed with it!
R.E: Would you say that the bands you listened to then influenced the music you listen to now? D: Yeah you can’t really tell in the old music but in the new music you definitely can because there’s a lot more guitars.
R.E: I bet your dad loves it! D: Yeah he never really said anything about the old stuff but with the new stuff he’s always asking to listen to it - requesting them all!
R.E: Do your family listen to your music in the house a lot? D: Oh yeah, we have listening parties with wine! I stand on the table and perform - lipsyncing my own songs! It’s so embarrassing because I like this music so much that I will just sit and listen to it.
R.E: But that’s so good because you hear of so many musicians who say they hate listening to their own songs. You should be this passionate about your own stuff I think! D: I’m a lot more passionate about my new music that's for sure. I feel a much stronger connection to it.
R.E: Do you try to distance yourself from your old songs? D: I think it’s important to see that music as growth, but I tend to focus more on the music I'm currently making as it’s a reflection of where I am at in the present.
R.E: That must be natural, you were just starting out! When did you start out properly taking music seriously as a career? D: Not until I was 18! I thought I was going to have to go to uni. I was the only one pretty much in my school who didn’t go.
R.E: Yeah it’s often what’s expected of you - no one really talks about other options!
D: I had one brilliant music teacher who pushed me but everyone else in the music department was like “no don’t do that” and my dad was very sceptical of the whole music thing. He was very worried and he was like “you have to do your UCAS”. I did apply but then I quit because I knew I wouldn’t go to university! I said to Dad “if I don’t do anything in the next year then I’ll go to uni but I’ll get a record deal before then”. And he was like “yeah fucking right!”.
R.E: Wow that ultimatum must have forced you to push yourself. Was there a moment though that you woke up and you were like “this is real, I better start now”?
D: Yeah I was like “better start working!” But a producer picked me up after hearing me on a CD and said “let’s start writing till we can’t write anymore” and that’s what we did! I moved to Wales to live with him and work. He has the most wonderful family who took me in basically as a third child.
R.E: What would you say the biggest lesson you’ve learned since being in the industry is?
D: Don’t expect anything to happen overnight! I used to think that all of the people who were doing well at the moment were just overnight successes but after getting to know a lot of them I realised that they’ve been doing it for years.
R.E: Yeah and you don’t always see that part! But you do see articles about people like Oprah who got fired and celebrities who didn’t get a break until they were much older.
D: You have to have patience!
R.E: And if you’d had overnight success with the music you made a year ago that you now hate you’d probably feel really disconnected to your music and be fearful of changing! Would you describe yourself as being a workaholic?
D: Switching off is the hardest thing for me. I live and breathe it - it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and I’ll be thinking about it long into the night when I should be sleeping. It’s just constant but also I get anxiety quite a lot and the only thing that soothes it is sitting and writing. It gets me excited - even getting up at 5am to do interviews like this. I was pumped this morning!
R.E: I guess anxiety and excitement are similar in many ways in terms of the physical way your body reacts...
D: Yes! But I do find it hard to take a break. We had a moment last year where I’d been doing back-to-back sessions since January and hadn’t had a week off since last Christmas and it got to August and I was hanging by a thread. I've got to a point where my manager was like “nope you’re going home. Don’t look at your phone for three weeks!”.
R.E: And did you manage to do it?
D: (Laughs) I mean I did message him questions about things and he’d be like “relax!”.
R.E: What do you do when you’re not doing music?
D: This is the thing. People always ask me “what are your hobbies? What do you do with your free time?” and I don’t have any hobbies!
R.E: To be fair, music does cover a lot of time!
D: I did try to pick up the saxophone over lockdown, is that a hobby?
R.E: Yeah that’s cool! Do you play a lot of instruments?
D: I play guitar and piano and I know how to play bass because when I was at school I had stage fright so I didn’t want to be the centre of attention but I was desperate to join a band. Then one day I overheard this one band that needed a bass player and I was like “I can play bass” and they were like “Okay we need you to come tomorrow and learn ‘What you know’ by ‘Two Doors Cinema Club’” which is a fucking hard bass part! So I went to the music teacher and I was like “can you teach me how to play bass!” and he was like “how long have you got?” and I was like “until tomorrow...” but hey it got me into the band!
R.E: (Laughs) Such a good story. How do you cope with managing people’s expectations of you or negative comments?
D: Because I am being my true self now I’m not disappointing anyone. Before I was constantly worried about people-pleasing and now I feel like I got my power back. When I walk into a room with someone from the industry and they’re like “What’s the plan?” and I’m like “this is what I’m doing”.
R.E: That’s amazing! Do you find it’s harder being a woman in the industry? Do you feel like maybe people don’t take you as seriously?
D: Definitely with sessions at the start because if you don’t put your foot down then they just walk all over you. I had a moment when someone said to me “I think you need to dress less boyish and be a bit more girly and write pop music” and I was like “I’m not Ariana Grande... I mean as much as I’d love to be her!”. It’s not me.
R.E: But this shouldn’t be the ‘ideal’. Look at Billie Eilish!
D: And the Reading and Leeds line up last year, I know it didn’t happen but there was a serious lack of females! But there’s a whole new wave coming and we are here to set some things straight!
R.E: Who were your most played Spotify artists of 2020?
D: Probably Flume!
R.E: I love his instagram. Actually, I have a weird crush on Flume - it’s his awkward energy
D: (Laughs) Yeah it was ‘Glass Animals’, ‘Flume’, ‘Mura Masa’, ‘Catfish and the Bottlemen’ and then sort of ‘Etta James’
R.E: So in your single ‘Good Enough’ you sing about someone questioning your own worth. Does this stem from your own experience in love?
D: Yes! I’ve been treated like shite before and a lot of my friends have been treated like shite and I feel like everyone needed an empowering anthem. I just needed to get my confidence back because it was shot to shit!
R.E (Laughs) That was my next question! Was it writing the song that gave you your confidence back?
D: Yeah, I was so angry when I went into that session - I was fuming and I was like “I’ve had enough! I’m not going to go with anyone romantically because I’m bored of it”. So I played it live last January and have this small super fan base and they were all screaming it and it’s like yeah, we’re all good enough!
R.E: And in those moments you can feel quite isolated or you can blame yourself for being treated like that but when you remember that so many amazing people have gone through the same you can treat yourself with compassion!
D: I think I'm slightly too emotionally intelligent and I don’t think that's always been present in the people I've involved myself with.
R.E: Do you do that thing where you meet people and you start asking what their star sign is and when they were born?
D: No I’m a very classic Scorpio!
R.E: Wow I wouldn’t have guessed that! But then again you are feisty and all Scorpios I know are workaholics! What do you think is the most attractive quality in a person?
D: That’s such a good question! I think confidence because it doesn’t really matter how you look or dress or anything, if you’ve got confidence - the more confident they are the fitter they are!
R.E: Yes, and confidence when you can just look at yourself and laugh at yourself too
D: Yes not cockiness! There’s a big difference.
R.E: Do you have any bad habits?
D: Working too hard and looking at pretty people on the internet and then not liking myself.
R.E: Do you compare yourself a lot?
D: I’ve tried to stop this year! I wrote this song called ‘Daisy’ - we all have so much time to scroll through TikTok and all I see are beautiful women who can dance so well... and I’m such a bad dancer! My YouTube hate comments are all slating my dancing...
R.E: Yeah but then you remember the people writing the comments have probably never danced in their lives and are just sitting on the sofa!
D: (Laughs) Yeah but when my friends do an impression of me they do this *flings arms around* because I’m so lanky! But I believe it doesn’t matter what you look like, you just have to own it because you can’t change it. Then at the same time I’m sitting there going “why does she look like this and I don't?”. And then at the same time my friends text me telling me they look ugly and they don’t - they’re gorgeous - so I ask them what they think of me and we all just realise we’re so critical of ourselves!
R.E: Is your screen time high on your phone?
D: Yes but that’s also because of zoom sessions...I do have to stay on top of social media, but it’s how I have a relationship with my fans whilst we can’t be at gigs together!
R.E: Is it hard? Do you feel a certain pressure to curate and maintain a certain image?
D: Oh yeah... it’s hard!
R.E: I did see you’ve been on the beach a lot! Does it inspire you?
D: Yeah I love the beach at home but I do feel I thrive more in a city! I’m one person there and another in a city.
R.E: Have you got any massive career goal that you want to reach?
R.E: Of course! What’s the first thing you want to do when lockdown’s done?
D: Go to the pub!
R.E: What’s one thing that surprises people when they meet you?
D: People expect me to be quite mean I think... I think people are intimidated because of the height thing!
R.E: How tall are you?
D: 5ft10! But I think people think I’ll be a lot more dark and mysterious than I actually am. I have nothing to hide!
R.E: What’s the most expensive item you’ve ever bought?
D: A guitar! I have an incredibly weird addiction with collecting guitars and a lot of them don’t work... I have four guitars that don’t work but I keep them and I can’t stop buying them! It’s the one thing I keep saving up for... I got my publishing deal and I just had to treat myself! I had it custom-built and painted it myself.
Dylan wears hat and coat JAKKE; trousers ARTISTS OWN
R.E: Would you ever want to crowd surf?
D: I have crowd-surfed but not at my own gig - at a ‘Slaves’ gig! I was 16 maybe and it was at Latitude and two guys behind me lifted me up and I crowd surfed to the back of the tent. My t-shirt was brown from beer and dust! That was a terrifying experience.
R.E: (Laughs) What can we expect for you in the next few months?
D: Hella good music!!
R.E: Okay, I have some quick ‘would you rather’ for you:
Be able to speak every foreign language or be able to speak to animals?
D: Probably animals because I could get my dog Tinker to behave! I’ve had her since November and she’s crazy and uncontrollable and I need to be able to communicate with her!
R.E: Be too hot or too cold?
D: Too cold... I have bad circulation because of the lengths of limbs! My toes are always blue.
R.E: Make a phone call or send a text?
D: Phonecall. If my friends want to talk to me they have to ring me because I’m shit with my phone. Despite me always being on my phone I never reply to texts!
R.E: Win the lottery or live twice as long?
D: I’d rather win the lottery... and then I could get a dog trainer!
R.E: Only be able to whisper or only be able to shout?
R.E: Do you have a celebrity crush?
D: I have a lot! It used to be Sean Mendes but I’ve changed that because he’s too much of a pretty boy for me.
R.E: Be rich or be famous?
D: Oh that’s a hard one because I’m not sure... In terms of music I’d rather make a lot of money from it than I would not be able to go to a Tesco in my pyjamas. But then I don’t want to say that famous people have a lot of fun but you can throw a lot of parties! I would go with the money one... I like going out in my pyjamas
R.E: Give up all drinks except for water or give up eating anything that was cooked in an oven?
D: Oh shit that means no more alcohol! I’d give up oven food. It would mean coffee too! It’s my favourite part of my day - cigarettes and a coffee.
R.E: Are you a night owl or an early bird?
D: I stay up late!
R.E: Be invisible or be able to fly?
D: Be able to fly...
R.E: Have one nipple or two belly buttons?
D: One nipple! Belly buttons are a bit weirder than nipples. Did you know you’re assaulting someone if you put your finger in their belly button because it’s inside their body?
R.E: Know when you’re going to die or how?
R.E: And finally, what’s your favourite F Word?