Dylan Owen is an artist who raps with his heart on his sleeve with a knack for story telling through his alternative rap flow.
With 10 years of rapping under his belt, Owen has continuously showed maturation in almost every area. He has built a steady fan base as well as racked up a number of accomplishments early in his career such as Billboard's Top-15 “Next Big Sound”. The NY emcee has recently released a new project entitled 'There's More to Life' where he continues his tradition of being more of a organic and personal artist.
HYPEFRESH's Che` (@Chehova__) talks with Owen about the inspirations behind the new project.
Che: Your lyrics showcase a lot of poetry and story telling. Who are some of your influences whether it's other artists or people close to you that may have sparked your gift of story telling?
Dylan: Um, definitely a lot of rap artists that I listened to. Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Sage Francis, idea, Beastie Boys, Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley. I definitely have a wide variety of influences from all different genres of music. I like to draw from all different stuff. Stuff I grew up on and stuff I love now.
Che: And your videos display a story and a deeper meaning as well. Do you already have a visual in mind when you record a song or does it usually come after a few listens?
Dylan: Yea, yea I totally do. For this project I had visuals in mind while I was writing the songs. I wanted to portray this guy in a small town that I'm from in upstate New York. I had that idea when writing the songs and I carried that over when I'm doing all of the videos.
Che: You've marked a good number of accomplishments and honors early in your career. How have you been able to stay grounded and humble to continue the hard work and keep your eyes on the prize?
Dylan: It's not really a problem for me because my main focus is just making the music I love to express myself and write about my real everyday life. I never worry about getting a big head because all I'm really concerned about is telling the truth in my music. Any recognition or fans that come with it is always just amazing and I'm very honored that you all are interested in what I'm saying.
Che: What did you learn from those last projects that made this one different and what did you want to keep the same?
Dylan: Well, I've always been working with the same group of people but I usually bring on new people with every project. These new people help me clarify what I'm going for. Being able to have better production, better recordings, use more live instruments. So, I feel like this project is very similar with what I've done in the past but this project is just a better version of that. And this one to me is the first where I've achieved what I've really wanted to in terms of the sound and feeling and I definitely feel I made what I sat out to make.
Che: Listening to this project it seems as if you made it an open letter as you talk about thoughts on past, present and even future experiences. Is that what you were going for when recording this project and do you feel it's important to remain organic with your fans and tell them exactly what's going on with you at the time?
Dylan: Yea definitely, that's definitely the vibe I go for. That sorta heart on sleeve vulnerability. And I feel like that is what's interesting to me because that's where I connect with people and they relate to that. And hopefully it will inspire them to go and express themselves or not be afraid of whatever they're struggling with. I definitely want to help and inspire people and you know when I share what I go through and what I experience that's the effect it has and that's whats amazing.
Che: Each song displays different artwork, which gives off the impression that each song is a different chapter, what inspired the artwork and how does each one complement the substance and content of each track?
Dylan: Yea so, that art work was done by a painter named Julia Carusillo and we decided to do a piece for each song so that every song would feel more personal and just to try to match the emotion of what the songs feel like to me so if the song is darker or more nostalgic then I tried to create that in the artwork. So those are kind of the pictures I saw in my head while I was writing the songs and a representation of what I'm writing about. So I described those concepts to her and she did a magnificent job. I think it's good because it gives someone kind of a hint of what they should be feeling while listening to the song.
Che: It seems like your able to switch into different productions and create a solid song no matter the diversity of it. What particular sounds do you look for when searching for a beat?
Dylan: I definitely look for boom-bap sounding drums or you know hip-hop breaks, organic sounds drums, things that in my opinion are easy to flow or tell a story over. So that's what I look for in terms of drums because that's so important in hip-hop. But in terms of music, I like a lot of live instruments, acoustic and electric guitars, vintage keyboards, violins, all of that stuff. I like production on the computer and also live recording. We did a lot of live recording in this album.
Che: Where do you hope this project takes you?
Dylan: I would love go on tour and promote this project and connect with all the fans and the people that listen to it. I would love for it to put me in a position where I could collab with many different artist from all different genres and hopefully build the fanbase to get bigger and bigger.
Che: What would you have to say about the project for someone who hasn't heard it?
Dylan: It's confessional, alternative hip hop, story telling music. I definitely have my heart on my sleeve in the lyrics. It also combines different genres so if you like different styles of music then it might be elements of it that you really dig or it may be something new that you haven't heard before.