{Behind The Music} Dylan Swinson on Playing for Keeps

{Behind The Music} Dylan Swinson on Playing for Keeps


“We spent most of the night on this one song that I felt was not going to get anywhere, but we ended the night. As soon as I was about to leave, I messed around with the capo on my guitar and just played a random chord. I really liked how it sounded and immediately started playing the intro riff to what would be this song. I would write my parts and I would wait for her to write her’s, but I grew impatient and just said “screw it, I’ll do this one by myself” because I was waiting for a good week or two. “  –  @dylanswinson

Live Interview May 26 – 6:40 pm et
Episode #327 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax : http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2016/05/25/episode-327-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW DYLAN SWINSON
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

When I was in Grade school…
my mother would always put on some of her favorite cds from Better Than Ezra to The Cure to Edwin McCain. Then one day she puts in Jeff Buckley’s Grace and I fell in love with it at such a young age. The very first dvd we ever bought was a Jeff Buckley Live in Chicago dvd. This was the first time I have ever seen anybody sing and play guitar at the same time, in a world of N*sync, Backstreet Boys and Aaron Carter. I was amazed and went to my room strumming on a baseball bat trying to be like him. I started to learn how to play guitar soon afterwards. I first started to write lyrics in my freshman year in high school in Delaware, but didn’t really put music into them until my junior year when I was into (and still am) into bands like Relient K, Blink-182, Green Day and my favorite band Jimmy Eat World. I would eventually lead to me recording my first demo cd in a friend’s basement. I moved to Charleston, SC the day after I graduated high school, started playing open mics and met people with connections who would eventually lead me to recording my first EP “Freedom & Solitude”. And from there things have just continued to look up.

Playing for Keeps…
Its funny how it came to be, because it was at first going to be a duet song. I have a friend named Ashley who I play duo shows on occasion with, and I wanted to collaborate with her to see if we can come up with anything. We spent most of the night on this one song that I felt was not going to get anywhere, but we ended the night. As soon as I was about to leave, I messed around with the capo on my guitar and just played a random chord. I really liked how it sounded and immediately started playing the intro riff to what would be this song. I would write my parts and I would wait for her to write her’s, but I grew impatient and just said “screw it, I’ll do this one by myself” because I was waiting for a good week or two. The overall theme of the song is taking over the world with your best friend, and it reflects on the times where me and my best friend, Cam, would just stay up and just talk about how one day we would take over Hollywood because we were both going to  college for film making.


I definitely want to explore different themes and sounds for each record I make…
I don’t want to make back to back records that sounds the same musically and lyrically; what’s the challenge in that? I already have themes figured out for my next three records. The one that I’m currently recording right now expresses social issues like problems with society, unity, and self image. I see songwriting not only as a way to express myself, but to also spread a message to people. Whatever that message is, I hope it can encourage people to never give up on your dreams because you will only regret not doing what you love in the long run if you never go for it.

Dylan Swinson_indie_music


I live in Charleston, South Carolina…
We have all types of artists with different genres here. I would say the most common genre there is among local artists are Folk, Bluegrass, Country, and Southern Rock type of artists. Some of my best friends are in a Reggae Rock band or an acoustic bluegrass group, and I support them fully as I am an Alt. Rock/ Pop Rock artist. We have an amazing music community where we are all supportive of one another. Awendaw Green has a barn jam every Wednesday night, which features artists and bands in the area of different genres performing their own original songs. Awendaw Green is a huge pioneer in Local Charleston music. Some of my favorite concerts have taken place at the Music Farm on Ann St; I got to see Jimmy Eat World there. Walking down King Street is like the ultimate strip mall. There are restaurants, clothing stores, even a freaking Apple Store. I usually like to walk down King Street if I happen to have a show downtown.


I feel like the music business is what it is, a business…
They are looking for artists and music that they believe will be marketable and favored by the public, and for unsigned artists, its a challenge. Although it is alot more easier for artists to be noticed today when you have YouTube and Vine to share with people, whereas back in the day you had to move to the nearest big city and hope to attract attention from an A&R scout. It is also more accessible for artists to be more independent these days thanks to tunecore, reverbnation, local recording studios. It is very possible to be a successful independent artist and have a solid fan base. However, major labels do have more connection and are able to present your music to a wider audience.

I recorded my first EP at a friend of mine’s home studio…
It was able to get me gigs, but is wasn’t marketable for radio at all because of the “home studio” quality, so I wasn’t getting any other exposure besides playing shows and handing out business cards and burnt cds. However, I knew that if I wanted to advance further in my career, I had to be more professional recording wise. So I worked very hard, and continue to play at least 7 shows a month, inside and outside of Charleston, so that I could afford to record music in a more professional environment with producers and giant computer screens. And sure enough the one song I recorded with that studio “Playing for Keeps” has opened so many doors for me already that I never would have had with my last record.

My next big plan after I release the record…
that I am currently recording is to stop being a solo acoustic artist and start a band for myself so that way I can participate in much more serious events, like the New Music Confab here in Charleston where locals perform in front of music executives from labels, which I am very happy to have in my hometown.

I love how social media is able to…
communicate with people from all over the world. People who you would never have had the chance to know back in the day. I think it is a great platform for fans to see who the artist is by what they post on their social media. It gives them a chance to relate to them. I wouldn’t say that there were any challenges that I had to overcome when it comes to social media, I just got better at choosing what I write on my pages.

Singles vs an album…
For me, I would absolutely choose an album over a single, because I would want to hear more from the artist and not just the one song over and over. However, in this world of social media where everything is shared and viral videos are less than 10 seconds, it would almost be better to release singles because I feel most people might not care enough to listen to an entire album if they have never heard of you before. I believe that if you have one good single that everybody likes, then it will hopefully have them anticipating the release of your album.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with….
I’d give anything to have some time with Steve Perry from Journey. He is easily one of my favorite singers and have created some of the best and most recognizable songs in the world. I’m a good singer, but I will be nowhere near as amazing as Steve Perry. I want to just have a chance to talk with him one time in my life before its too late. If I’m lucky, I can ask him what it was like being one of the most popular bands in the 80s and just get inside his head. Hopefully I’ll have the privilege to get to learn from him.

I’m not completely worried about being current or trendy…
I just don’t want to turn into a novelty act and then completely vanish after one song or two. The majority of music I listen to are from older bands, but I always try to listen to new music and see what songs I like and how it can influence me. I always have the radio on in my car; I don’t listen to cds unless I’m on a roadtrip, that way I can always here new music and sounds that can make an impact on me.

I am most afraid of…
Somebody coming up to me during a show, requests a song, and gets genuinely angry that I don’t know the song. I live in the south, so its possible. I’m sorry sir, I don’t know Free Bird!

Success to me is…
when people in the audience tell me how much they enjoyed hearing me play. If they enjoyed the show, then I know that I’ve done my job right. There is this place in Columbia that I love to play called Breakers, and its a college bar where everytime I played there was at least 100 people there. I had alot of people compliment me, but there was this one guy who said “Dude, when are you coming back?” I said “I don’t know, when do you want me back?” He said “Tomorrow!” When the audience is happy, that’s a success for me.

My over all goal for my life & career is…
My goal is to take my career as far as I can take it. I want to be able to play music for people for a living. It doesn’t matter to me if I play places that holds 300 people or 20, 000 people. If I’m able to play places where people want to see me, then I know that I have made it as an artist.

3 Ways that I challenge myself…

1) Always keep writing, even my producer tells me to keep writing, keeps my brain going and coming up with more song ideas and themes. The more songs I have, the more likely I’ll have songs to choose from that truly satisfy me.

2) Go out and visit venues in my area to play. Whether it is places I’ve never played or haven’t played in a while, its a great way to stay busy in a town where there are a lot of local musicians competing for the same spots as you. Gaining those contacts that show interest in you are great contacts to have when they want you back. I find that it is a great way to stay in the loop in the scene and always stay busy.

3) Don’t judge a fellow artist on their style but who they are as a person. I’ve done that in the past and can say now that I was a complete moron for doing so. You don’t know what their story is, they might have or be in the same struggle as you. If you talk with them, you might find out they are a good person and you have alot in common with and they might help you out in the long run. However, what I don’t like are artists who are full of themselves and think they are the best thing in this town. They are usually one that are hard to work with. But I’ve learned to stay humble as an artist, no matter how many times people come up to me and say good things. It just gives off a bad vibe if I act like the greatest thing to ever happen to music, which I am not. It makes people see who I am as a person and I hope I can relate to them, as well as gain a friend.

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