Dylan Cartlidge - INTERVIEW
The whole nation may be in lockdown, but that hasn't stopped a stream of tantalising new music entering the world. There have been new singles from DMA's, Declan Mckenna, YUNGBLUD (read our interview here) and many more. Yet, our favourite new release has to be 'Yellow Brick Road', the new single from Dylan Cartlidge. We had some digital lockdown communications to find out more about his latest tune.
For those who haven't come across his music before, it's pretty hard not enjoy. Whether it's the smooth hip-hop phrasing, the funk grooves or the indie festival chorus' his songs drift in and out of genres offering something for all music lovers. For him though, this eclectic concoction of sounds comes naturally. "My sound is very much part of who I am and its not something that’s too deliberate or forced. It’s just something I naturally do and wether its a bonus or a hinderance is kind of irrelevant to me - it just is what it is and hopefully speaks for itself" . This laid back persona certainly comes across in his music. Each one of his singles carries a natural flow that merges elements of rap with indie hooks that allow Dylan's personality to shine through.
This new single follows two consecutive EP's, with the first featuring the track 'Up & Upside Down'. This song first attracted our attention back in 2018 due to a very special featuring artist. One of our favourite musicians, Jamie T, lended his vocals to the infectious mind warping track. It was a pairing that seemed almost too perfect not to happen, with Dylan's fractured phrasing and hip-hop infusions sounding reminiscent of Jamie's early albums. However, as with all of his work it seems, the collaboration arose naturally. "Jamie’s a fantastic artist and it was an absolute dream to work with him. We just happened to be working with a mutual producer called James Dring and Jamie heard one of my tracks and we got together through that. He’s a really lovely guy and I really enjoyed working with him - we still keep in touch today."
Since then, we have been following Dylan's every move. Following a fantastic support slot for Bad Sounds which we loved and lots of new music including the standout 'Monsters Under The Bed' he has arrived just in time for Summer with 'Yellow Brick Road'.
The new single shares the captivating grooves of his previous releases led by Dylan's base playing. He claimed that "Its actually really hard to play bass and rap and I’m still learning that. I don’t really consider myself a bass player - I’m just doing my best impression of one!". However his bass playing lies at the heart of this single, laying the platform for his expansive vocals to take over.
Lyrically the new song discusses social divides and the chasm between dreams and reality, a topic that seems just as apparent as ever right now. Dylan explained that the inspiration for this was his "experiences and journey in life". "It was my very first studio session and the first song I ever co-wrote in that kind of environment (working with James Dring). It was a session in which all the expectations and dream chasing of being musician all came together". These tensions come across musically, with the anxious determination and carefree optimism fighting it out in the sonic battleground. "In my mind this one session was either going to be the start of me achieving that dream or that was going to be as good as it got. I think regardless of what was going to happen I was going into that studio session to try my best to express that feeling".
Although 'Yellow Brick Road' touches on subject matters that are poignant and deeply serious, it is injected with an upbeat swagger. This makes it the perfect summer tune, arriving just at the right time.
Talking of good timing, it is relieving to see artists such as Dylan continue to release their music. It would be easy to put everything on hold in this strange time. As Dylan said, "I think everyone's considering postponing things because of the situation we’re all in". However, he and his team seem to have taken the optimistic view. "To be honest you’re always at the mercy of the industry. If you drop your new single on the same day as a drake album you can end up pretty screwed anyway. I think for an up and coming artist like me its actually a really opportune time - I think hopefully music can provide a little bit of light during this dark time".
That is exactly what this new release has bought. 'Yellow Brick Road' is the perfect antidote to lockdown blues; a song for finding hope in the face of adversity.
It feels as though music is crucial at the moment. Whether it is Instagram nominations or top 10 countdowns, music is offering escapism, creativity and self expression. However Dylan pointed out that "Music is always important as people are always going to be facing adversity. There’s people that are losing family members and going through tough and turbulent times every single day somewhere in the world and I think that music is vital for a lot of people for helping them to process experiences. I know for myself in the past music has been the only thing in my life that has kept me going".
Clearly, music has acted as a saving grace for Dylan and, in turn, he has offered others to experience the same feeling when listening to his music. As a whole, his records are thoughtful and deeply uplifting. 'The World Outside', in particular, captures the disconnect from society and internal withdrawal that so many experience and transforms it into a positive musical energy. The new release is no different, like all of his songs 'Yellow Brick Road' is almost mesmerising, sucking you inside the mind of Dylan Cartlidge and leaving you refreshed and ready to step outside into the world.
Now, all we are after is more music! Dylan reassured us that "There’s plenty more where that came from including a new EP in the near future". In the mean time, check out his recommendations: "The Strokes have dropped a new album, go check that out. I dig Rex Orange County. I really like al to of Gus Dapperton stuff, also Oliver Tree & Tierra Whack. There’s so many good artists out there at the moment!" And of course, get streaming 'Yellow Brick Road'. You can hear it alongside our other top weekly picks on our Listen Up playlist.