If there’s one thing that’s clear about Dylan Joel, it’s his enthusiasm and absolute passion for what he does. Supporting the up-and-comers in hip-hop, Dylan is someone who’s starting to solidify his position in the underground Australian music scene. From a 15-year-old kid MCing a concert to a young rapper opening Pyramid Rock, Dylan has been going from height to height rarely pausing for breath. Having just dropped his record That’s Good, Dylan found time in his hectic schedule to talk all aspects of music and his career thus far with me.
Hi Dylan, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Can you start by telling me a bit about how you’d define your sound?
No sweat! Big fan of all that The Push does so cheers for having me! Yeah I guess I’ve gone through a few different sounds in the past releases, but something I always try to aim for in my style is bringing a consistent feel of positive, feelgood, uplifting vibes. Always down to write something different depending on where my head’s at, but I more than often stick to building songs from those key elements, and that’s what generally forms my style of hip-hop.
Where did your interest in music start? In terms of your particular style of hip-hop, who would you say your biggest influences are?
So my first introduction to hip-hop was actually from a real dope opportunity I had back in 2007. I was a 15-year-old standard kid that was lucky enough to be asked to stage host a show and the headline act happened to be the big lads Bliss N Eso. So I had the privilege of meeting them backstage and getting a behind-the-scenes insight in to what hip-hop was all about. From there, my taste in hip-hop expanded internationally and then like all rappers I began speaking my mind through pen and paper. Then BOOM! Instant rapper (sort of…).
The last two years have seen some amazing hip-hop releases, from Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore record to Yeezus. Which records have you been spinning lately?
Yeah nice, big fan of what both those dudes bring in terms of sound! Funnily enough I actually haven’t bought either of their albums! I guess something I’ve learnt quite a bit about in the past few years, is how the industry really works and what’s involved in the process of creating a record. And to be honest, I’m really digging a lot more of the stuff that probably isn’t listened to on a mainstream basis. Dudes like David Dallas, Brother Ali, Chance The Rapper, Shad (Toronto), are always dropping equally banging records that definitely don’t get the same appreciation, so I try to really support the up-and-comers.
Your brand new album That’s Good has just been released, available for free to download from your website (new window). What’s on it, and what does it mean to you?
This was a big project actually! I collabbed with a buddy who’s a producer in Toronto called Otis Grey and I took a one-month trip over to get the ball rolling on this record. So we were real set on making it a fully sampled product (in attempt to pay respect to the artists we appreciate and dig), picking tracks from old-school ’70s to recent modern-day bangers. Was such a fun project. Took a lot of fiddling and a long time to record (due to the budget of a non-profitable product, ha ha), but it’s out and sounding better than we ever imagined! So we’re stoked. For me it actually means quite a lot to be able to put out a free 16-track record!
Last year you were paired up with Mantra as part of the FReeZA Mentoring Program. What was the experience like and what did you learn from it?
Firstly, Mantra is probably one of the best dudes you will ever meet in your life. The heart that dude has is phenomenal. Nicest, most giving bro I’ve met in the hip-hop scene and can absolutely rip a verse. I learnt heaps from Mantrizzle, from performance tips to recording advice, and a heap of inside info about record labels, contracts, lawyers, etc. Definitely helped me to grasp what really goes on behind the scenes and prepare me for a heap of the stuff I’m currently going through!
One chat I had with Mantra that I really strongly valued was about finding that balance between music and general life. How do artists meet the expectations of both? Because we are just normal peeps like everyone else – we just picked a different career that tends to make us a public figure. Real fresh to have someone to relay that stuff to. Such a dude.
Australian hip-hop has been making quite the impact on the scene in the past few years. What advice would you have for someone trying to break into the scene?
Real true! So sweet to see hip-hop getting more recognition these days. Love that there’s such a wide range of genre’s getting a solid bump across the nation. So any advice… Well if I knew the full answer, I’d probably be a lot bigger than I am! But something I definitely always try to push is for artists to really try and shape their sound.
Try and bring something different to the table. Because if there’s already a rapper doing exactly what you’re doing, there is room for you – but not a lot! So base your sound and your style on what you dig. Make it yours and define that. Also, I know it seems like being a full-time artist and being a mini celebrity is all dope and appreciation! But if you don’t love making music as much as you love the attention, then you won’t enjoy where you’re at, even if you do end up making a living off it.
So really make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Cause it’s a flip load of work! Really look forward to checking out new stuff and fresh artists though, so I’m hanging out to hear some of those that have the heart for it!
Stay up to date with the latest news from Dylan Joel at www.dylanjoel.com.