Pop-Rock Heartthrob: Dylan Gardner


"I want people to listen to my music and have a fantastic time. I put a lot of effort into making fun songs and things that reinvigorate the listener. Your songs outlive you even when you're gone." 

- Dylan Gardner

Up-and-coming nineteen year-old pop-rock artist Dylan Gardner, originally from Plainfield, Illinois, has set his heart to worshipping all-things music. His catchy and upbeat songs have us all hooked. 
   Gardner recently agreed to talking to WRITTEN CITIZEN about his career. 

WRITTEN CITIZEN: Thank you for talking to us! First of all, your music blows me away. You're on my "repeat" playlist. What would you say your genre of music is classified as?

DYLAN GARDNER: I would call it pop-rock. As far as my music is concerned, I want the fun and great rushing emotion of pop songs and the energy of rock music. So, I would call it pop-rock. I also like how that sounds. 

WC: What was growing up like for you?

DG: Growing up for me was interesting. I've had this love and connection with music since I was born. That was always my first and forefront thing. All my relationships with people were based on music. 
   I was socially awkward and didn't want to talk to people. I probably still don't, actually. I worked on practicing drums and guitar and worshipping The Beatles growing up — just worshipping my idols. 
   I've always wanted to be a musician/songwriter, so growing up was basically just practicing that in a lot of ways. I literally just got back from playing at the high school I went to freshman year. It was my first time there since my last day of school. I didn't know a single person. It was a really great experience.

WC: Did you see any teachers you knew? 

DG: Yes, I saw everyone. My gym coach couldn't even believe I made it this far. The first person to book me a show in Arizona was Lane McShane. He runs the [school's] music program. He also runs a conspiracy class which I took every Thursday. 

WC: I'm sure that was such an exciting experience. What is your favorite song you've done so far?

DG: When I put out a record, I don't want to put it out until I have ten favorite songs in there; until I would take a bullet for every single song. 
   My least favorite thing in the entire world is a filler-track. So, as far as my favorite one, I try not to think about that because I can always top it. I'm working on my second record right now, and I think I have a lot.

WC: What about your favorite place to perform? What's the crowd favorite?

DG: It always depends on how much sleep I got, the actual moment, and how the crowd is. I would say, like today, I played The Actor and there was an upright-base in the school, so we brought it and used it. I thought that was the most special performance of that song. It was really cool. 
   As far as a crowd favorite, people know the lyrics to Let's Get Started and The Actor, it seems like. 

WC: At the top of your head, make a playlist for us of music to which you listen on a regular basis!

Dg: Most days, I listen to The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Tame Impala, Elvis Costello, Ben Folds, and The Kings. They're all such legends.

WC: To which artists do you look up?

DG: I basically look up to anybody that's taller than me (laughs). Harry Nilsson, Ben Folds, Sam Cooke, Elliott Smith, Paul Simon... People that write and create their own universe are phenomenal. Those are always the people that I look up to. 
   All those people have been consistent throughout their entire careers, as far as I'm concerned. That's the most important thing to me — consistency. I look up to Stevie Wonder a lot. 
   As far as bands now-a-days, I look up to Tame Impala, Nate Ruess from FUN, Vampire Weekend, and Grouplove.

WC: Are you on tour at the moment?

DG: Yes, I am. Well, the interesting thing about being a touring musician is you're never not on tour. I was home for two weeks, and now I'm doing a one-week run in Arizona. I'm here one week, then I go to France for two weeks, then I come back, then I'm here for two weeks again.

WC: You're pretty busy then! On that topic, what is tour life like?

Dylan: I would say it's hard work, but it's also really fun. I get to see a lot of the country, meet a lot of amazing people, play music every night and that's what's really awesome. 
   The hard work is, you know, tiring. You never get sleep. Ever. Jet lag is something that comes with it. The weather hasn't been awesome anywhere I've gone lately. It's been really hot. When I went to Denver, I couldn't breathe because of such high-elevation, and that's always a factor. 
   Really though, touring is super fun. It's hard, but once you get the hang of it, it only gets better. 

WC: While on tour, have you had any crazy fan experiences?

DG: I was warming up during a soundcheck once. I was playing at a high school, so I had to go warm up in the soccer field because I had to have some space. This little girl was on the baseball field and she walks up to me and hands me a pen that is made into a rose out of pink construction paper and that was pretty awesome. Well, that's not exactly crazy. I just consider that cool.

WC: How adorable! That must have been a great feeling. So, what is recording in the studio like?

DG: Well, that's my favorite thing to do of all time! I mean, I really like to take control of a lot of things and oversee everything and just be in the sound every take. 
   I'm usually playing most of the instruments. I'm sitting in front of the computer and finding these sounds from everywhere and pulling together all these different things that I hear in my head and try to get the magic onto the computer, which is where I record. It's always fun. 
   There sometimes are challenging days in the recording studio, but I always have the end-result in mind, and I know when the end has reached. That's my favourite part of the whole entire process: record-making.

WC: Is there ever a last-minute song recorded/written in the studio, or is it always before-hand?

Buy Dylan's album, Adventures In Real Timehere.
DG: Oh yeah. Big time. When I made Adventures In Real Time, all the songs were written about six months before, but three of those songs were written about one month before. It's a thing with deadlines. They get so much out of you. It happens to me all the time. I'm writing songs for the next record, and I keep writing at the last minute. It's always last minute recording. I was recording stuff when I was mixing. That was crazy. 

WC: Do you have any complaints about the music industry?

DG: I don't really consider myself a complainer. I know there are a lot of problems with the industry, or any industry really, but the fact that I get to make music and have people listen to it and enjoy it is my personal goal. So no, I don't really have any complaints. 
   I think it's great to see that people are buying more vinyl and going to concerts, [or] so it seems. For me, to be a part of that experience is amazing. I always think It's always more interesting to hear what an artist likes than what he or she dislikes. 

WC: How has media improved or hindered your career?

Dylan: It definitely has't hindered my career because I haven't done anything stupid on the internet... yet. As far as improving, I think it's the reason why people initially heard my music. I put my record up on Spotify independently with no record label. Let's Get Started got one million plays. Now, it has five million plays, but that was with no marketing or promotion. That was initially how I got heard of by a lot of people, including Warner Brothers. Social media is super important.

WC: If we followed you around for a day while not on tour, what would it be like?

Dylan: Briefly enough, you wouldn't really have to follow me to many places because I don't move much (laughs). On a day off, I'm at home working on music or listening to records. It's really either of those. 
   Every once in a while, I try to get outside the house. I usually just go record shopping. That's all I really do. So, if you followed me around, I think you'd hear some great music. I'd probably end up telling you about some forgotten band from 1968.

WC: Other than making music, what are some things that you love to do?

DG: I collect records. I love painting whenever I get the chance. I also like to collect vintage instruments [and] I kind of have a secret love for tennis, even though I am terrible at it.

WC: Wow, you're a man of many talents. So, where do you see yourself in ten years?

DG: I hopefully will be doing the same thing. I want to do this for the rest of my life. When I try to see myself in the future, I just hope I'm doing this on a bigger scale, always progressing and moving forward with my career. I want to make and produce records. I want to play on other people's records, as well. I want to learn more about recording with boards and audio gear and pressers, and things similar to those. A lot of people say that's a waste of time, but I think it's really fun. 

Feel free to visit Dylan's website, check him out on Spotify, follow his Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to his YouTube

All images courtesy of Dylan Gardner.

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