Dylan Cohen is a commodity. He provides soundings that are genuinely intriguing to listen to. He's able to integrate so many various soundings, that we feel almost overwhelmed by listening to the creative and new part of the music he's able to offer. One of our favorite parts of his musical execution is the production and how unique it is to the expressed vocalism. Dylan knows how to blend sounds that only complement each other. If you intently listen and can get past the alluring melody, you can hear that Dylan Cohen intensely expresses his day-to-day life. He does this in such an expressive manner--when this is combined with that exclusive and unique sounding of Dylan, it allows for that unparalleled rhythm and flow. "Alleyways" has been his most recent music video release, which captures the very essence of his energy presented in the track. When "Alleyways" was released in late 2018, it provided that necessary and robust atmosphere for listeners at the perfect time. Dylan Cohen is full of that uncompromised energy and talent, which is why he was a clear pick to feature as Artist of the Day. We can expect that whichever project he stumbles upon next will be as thoughtful and resilient as his most recent releases. For now, we're okay with listening to his most recent work!
Listen to "Alleyways" here.
Hey Dylan! Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us on your most recent work. What a great year for you! Your music has really grown in a blossoming direction. Looking back over the past couple of years, 2018/2019, what would you say has been your favorite track to create and record? Hey Buzz! Thanks so much! 2019 was a year of huge artistic and sonic growth for me both as an artist and a co-producer. My producer, Michael Kondakow and I have been on a musical journey together advancing closer to a sound that I'm beyond excited to present to listeners in 2020. We've been hard at work on my debut album Just for Tomorrow (Part 1), due for release in fall 2020 with a couple of singles dropping in advance of that. Just for Tomorrow (Part 1) unpacks my experience dealing with addiction and mental health issues for nearly 15 years, but through the lens of my new reality as a recovering addict with just over three years of clean time. My favourite tracks created and recorded this past year have been songs off my new album. That being said, we are currently working on reproducing my 2018 single "Clementine" to better reflect the "trip-soul" sonic identity of my new music. I'm super excited about this endeavor as "Clementine" has extra special significance to me as my first real songwriting dive into the trauma of my early childhood and its connection to my drug abuse and mental health issues later on. You can expect a reproduced version of "Clementine" to appear on Just for Tomorrow (Part 1) coming out in 2020.
"Clementine" was one of our personal favorites from you, as we feel connected to the ambiance it holds. How did you feel with writing this track, and how did you intend for your listeners to feel? Thanks so much for saying that. "Clementine" is a weird one for me, as I was very nervous to release and perform it live. I felt it was so personal and specific to my own life, and that perhaps people wouldn't be able to find their own truth in it. To my surprise, this song has consistently been a crowd favourite and one that many have told me they relate to in their own way. That kind of feedback really fuelled my belief in finding the courage to be as transparent as I can be in my songwriting. "Clementine" says a lot of tough things about myself and my family. It wasn't an easy song for some in my family to hear. There's a line in the song that I know made some members of my family uncomfortable - "lullabies at the end of the day, and they walked the other way" or "cause the river's rushin' now and I can't seem to see that I'm a lying, thieving, fucking junkie". I know it hurts some members of my family to hear me refer to the abandonment I felt as a child and implicate them in that, or the frustration and anger I have towards myself and my own behaviour. I only hope that they can respect what I need to do to heal and let go and that I'm trying to create something positive out of the darkness. I hope people can relate to that in "Clementine". It has a line in the chorus - "how do I, how do I, let it go?" and I hope the song inspires people to find their own way through the memories, emotions, and compulsions that seek to control them - for me, my route out of all of that is creating music. Oh! And for all the Elliott Smith fans out there - this song is loaded with nods to him and his impact on me and my memories. See if you can spot em'.
Tell us more about the project that's happening soon on your rendition of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen! How do you feel about covering this track? My producer is actually polishing up this project as I sit in the studio with him now as I write this. This "Hallelujah" project came about through a program I was fortunate enough to participate in this past summer called "Canada's Music Incubator". The program took a small group of artists from across Canada and put us through rigorous music industry training for six weeks. During that time I was able to fortify my industry knowledge but also to work with a professional producer, vocal coach, performance coach, managers, publishers and all kinds of other amazing mentors. Canada's Music Incubator shares its space with Coalition Music (a record label and artist management firm) in this big revitalized church in the eastern part of Toronto. In that building, there is this beautiful little chapel where they do industry showcases and small live shows. This "Hallelujah" project stemmed from one of the perks of the program where we artists were able to work with a film crew in the chapel and do basically whatever we wanted. No other artist had ever done a straight-up acapella take for their session in the chapel so I decided to have the crew film me doing a live off the floor take of me singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". I realize this song has been covered a million times, but I knew I could do something completely unique with it and showcase my vocals. This project was super challenging because my producer and I had to build a whole soundscape in post audio using my live off the floor acapella take. This project will introduce listeners to my new found "trip-soul" sound and I can't wait for people to hear it. I know fans of this song are very precious about it, so many will either love or hate my take on it. In any case, I wanted to pay my own tribute to the iconic Canadian singer/songwriter/poet with whom I share my last name and who has inspired my songwriting journey in so many ways.
We've felt connected with the type of energy you emulate throughout your songs right when we began listening to your music. Would you say that this aspect to your music is genuine, or was it created and manifested to aid in the overall execution of your sounding? It's genuine! But every song we make naturally channels a different type of energy. For "Alleyways" it was upbeat, celebratory, fun, but for a song like "Clementine" there was a lot more anger, sadness, and frustration I needed to channel. Music creation has been a real ride for me these past couple years and I think I've naturally unearthed different parts of my artistic character over time. I grew up having a true love for musical theatre and studied it at an arts high school here in Toronto, and I think my theatrical side comes out in my music - especially in my new stuff. It's really a gamble when we get into the studio how channeling different characteristics of myself will come out sonically. So many times when I'm in the booth there will be accidental moments of amped up or mellowed out energies that seem to perfectly execute the emotions we're trying to convey. Often times I just concentrate as deeply as possible on the lyrics I've written while I'm singing in the booth and amazing things happen. A performance coach I worked with at Canada's Music Incubator - Luther Mallory (who has a great TED talk by the way), coached me thoroughly on the importance of focusing more on the lyrical significance of what I'm singing as opposed to having a hyper-focus on vocal technique. This hyper-focus on lyrics, and the genuine feelings behind what I've written and why I feel the need to express what I've written have become grounding principals of my performance both in and out of the studio.
Are there any pivotal lessons you've learned over the course of 2019 in terms of the music scene? How do you feel you shaped yourself as an artist over this year that differs from how you were artistically in 2018? Learning from the experiences of 15 other artists in Canada's Music Incubator program has definitely been pivotal for my understanding of the Canadian Music scene. I'm still a baby in terms of navigating it all. I've only performed a handful of times and had a few releases. 2020 will be the year that I take all that I've learned and deploy those lessons into my releases and shows. I plan on playing a bunch of shows in Toronto and other towns here in Ontario and working with the best people I can to create an audience for my singles and album releases. Luckily, my experience at CMI also helped to land me great working relationships with some folks in the industry that I plan to leverage as much as possible. In terms of how I've been shaped artistically this year - I think the biggest evolution was coming closer to finding my sound, at least for this album. At CMI I worked with an amazing producer named Hill Kourkoutis. Hill and I listened to all of my new demos and thought that my soul vocal stylings were a consistent element in all of the songs, but that production styles varied so much between soul/pop and alt. rock/soul. A few songs stuck out as having this very "trip soul" feel - a sound nodding to classic soul stylings but tripped out digitally was a sonic identity that really fit the ethos of Just for Tomorrow - a soulful journey to recovery through a tripped out, drug-induced landscape. Really excited to debut this sonic identity that I feel is truly my own. Stay tuned!
Overall, the past couple of years have been amazing for you and your music! You've given us great releases, and we feel more in tune with your artistry. What's the next step for you in the upcoming year, and what aspects will you now add to your future music? I'm planning to tour, release singles and my full-length album plus more music videos all happening in 2020. I'm hard at work to make the best debut album I can with a unique sonic identity and a clear narrative message. I want Just for Tomorrow (Part 1) to give people hope - that they can live life on life's terms and create something beautiful from their darkness. This album is a two-part story and I can't wait to deliver part 1 next fall. Other than that I look forward to releasing Youtube projects like "Hallelujah" where I add my "trip-soul" production style to covers I love. In terms of adding things to my future music - I plan on continuing to focus on finding new truths about myself and the world around me through songwriting and to be as transparent as I can about what I find. I'm more excited about 2020 than ever so stay tuned and thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to you! Thanks, Buzz!