Dylyn is currently spending the zombie apocalypse on a rural property on the outskirts of Toronto, listening to Black Sabbath and making demonic masks for her band to wear in the official video for “Call Me What You Want,” her latest single.
“Rock’n’roll is not the easy way, but it’s a freeing way, and it’s the way I want to live my life,” says Dylyn. Talking about her unique career path, the Toronto artist says, “There is truth in where you started, and then you veer off the road and come back to it and then really find it. That’s cultivating your sound the hard way.”
Though she rarely listens to modern music, Dylyn is not going down a retro path: this is not a Greta Van Fleet situation, far from it. She’s a 21st-century performer who sounds very much of her time, and is not trying to be anyone else. Aesthetics aside, her songwriting has been the through line through her entire career. “A song is a song,” says Dylyn. “If you can strip it down to guitar and have someone singing along by the second chorus, then you’ve got yourself a song. The format of my songwriting hasn’t changed, just the production.”
Dylyn debuted with the 2018 EP Sauvignon and a Kimono, which featured three singles, including ‘Secret.’ Written in 20 minutes, it’s an autobiographical account of a child witnessing her parents’ divorce. Released with very little marketing, it suddenly took off six months after release—neither Dylyn nor her management team know specifically why, but it’s now up to 100 million streams and has spawned dozens of fan videos in the anime community, particularly Gacha Life, where a Dylyn avatar has been created. “Secret” had a particular resonance for this community. “When these kids were starting to write me, I realized that they like darker music,” she says. “It seems the game is an escape. A lot of them feel like outcasts who are bullied at school. Kids feel helpless because they can’t fix the adults’ situation,” she says, “and maybe that’s why we connect. It’s tough to play that song live sometimes because I have to relive my own experience. But truth-seeking is very important to me now.”
That debut EP turned out to be a transition point. Her newer material took shape when she met L.A.-based Toronto producer Colin Munroe (Kendrick Lamar, Lights), who encouraged her new rock direction. “After that I had more confidence,” she says. “I was more clear about doing my own thing.” Ryan Guldemond of Vancouver hitmakers Mother Mother became another key collaborator. “After working with Ryan, I thought, ‘This is it. This is finally the stuff I’ve been wanting to write. The 18-year-old me has returned.’ I hadn’t felt that excited in a long time.” Perhaps not coincidentally, the first song they wrote together is called “Find Myself.”
“Everyone says just be yourself,” says Dylyn. “It’s the hardest thing to do. A lot of artists are natural pleasers. I struggled with that for a long time: making sure everyone in the room was okay and happy at the cost of my art and my truth. This is the first time where it’s more about the art and less about what other people think, going back to what I enjoyed doing about this in the first place. That’s why I couldn’t sleep after those sessions with Ryan.”
Tracks from both those sessions will be unveiled throughout 2020, culminating in a 2021 EP Make It Naked. The emotionally raw and slinky “Something to Lose” was released in April. Dylyn says it was “born from a romance that eventually bloomed into a relationship. At the time, my heart was healing so it was a safe, trusting space where love could flourish. You are capable of love, even if you feel damaged and broken.” In June 2020, Dylyn dropped the fiery riff-heavy rocker “Call Me What You Want,” which is “animalistic and loud in spirit,” she says, “about being wild, embracing your freedom—with no regard of other opinions or judgments. Turn a song up to eleven, let the wind hit your hair, and scream it at the top of your lungs.”
Each single sounds more monstrous than the last, unleashing a talent that’s only beginning to realize her true potential. Dylyn has finally found herself. The rest of the world is about to find her as well.