1. Q: - Hey, very happy to welcome you to the podcast community. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. Introduce yourself to the community.
A: - Thank you for having me! I'm Sylas Dean and I'm debuting with my first pop EP American Dreeming. I think the best way to introduce myself is as an artist but really I'm more of a writer first. I've been writing music since I was thirteen and I wrote over a hundred songs to consider just for this EP alone, so I'm kind of in a state of relief at the moment to finally see the music reach release day.
2. Q: - One thing that I’m always interested in, when I sit down and chat with artists is, what their defining moment was that they knew that they wanted to be in music... What was that moment in time for you?
A: - I grew up in a musical household so performing just feels very innate. Always a lot of rock and soul being played in the background and I was big into singing and acting as a kid. But the moment that I think I married this idea of being on stage was around 11. I did a school production of 'Grease' and got my first on-stage solo singing "Those Magic Changes" with the guitar and I'll never forget that feeling of seeing the reaction on my family's face watching me. I think even when you're a kid you can tell when adults are being serious with you when they tell you something meaningful and my family really encouraged me to take music seriously. I think telling someone even when they're young that they have potential is invaluably beneficial, and kids can receive that well and really discipline through it if it's something they want.
3. Q: - You made 3 submissions and, I personally think each song is a spot on hit. So, I’m not going ot ask you about a single song rather, what was your inspiration for this album?
A: - That's really sweet so thank you for that! I set out to create something both commercial and meaningful, and I don't see the two as mutually exclusive when it comes to pop. I fell in love with this idea of a project where every song was designed to be a hit, sort of a germination from the "Thriller" effect or even something as recent as Lady Gaga's "The Fame". These are records that are pop gold from start to finish and every single song stands on its own as a hit. That's just remarkable to me. But the throughline of American Dreeming is actually more about self-creation. The sentiment of the "American Dream" is about taking ownership to change your life but it's not without imperfections which is why I incorporated the misspelling of "dreeming". I'm a kid from a small town and I didn't come from money or connections so the idea of reclaiming your own dream by creating this world around, this sort of colorful character of Sylas Dean, that's what the "American Dream" means to me. It just wasn't a perfect story on the road to get here.
4. Q: - When I was an actual DJ way back when, I used to love performing live, do you perform live at all and if so, Do you prefer studio life or live performances?
A: - I do yeah! I've been gigging since I was eighteen, and I used to play bars, play as an opener for bands, I'd even book retirement homes and sing standards like Sinatra and Judy Garland ballads since it paid well. But I'm feeling really positive about the future post-pandemic and I'm excited to start hustling this music through the club circuit and start playing out again once everyone feels safe. I think we're all craving that "feel good" moment right now.
5. Q; - What is one thing that bothers you the most about trying to come up in the music world today and, do you prefer being underground or is the mainstream something you strive for?
A: - I think there's this sort of tribalism when it comes to indie vs. someone on a label. We really like to pit the two against each other as opposing sides but I think there's merit to both. I would say this more recent angle of vilifying the industry is a downside in some ways, not to say that the labels aren't without fault, but artists should be clear about what they want rather than pit the scapegoat on the business side of the industry. Some people can thrive independently while some people have dreams that align really well with what a label can do for you. I've never dreamed "small scale" so I'm after pushing this music to be as big as I can get it. I make commercial music but I'm transparent about that, the authenticity to it is that there isn't a team of writers or marketers behind me, I am the writer and I created all of this.
6. Q: - Who, musically, is one of the bigger influences in your music?
A: - I've always had this special connection to Freddie Mercury. I think as someone who appreciates camp and strives for theatrics in every way I've grown up admiring someone who was fearless in their music and the way they lived their life. Freddie didn't shy away from what felt over the top because he didn't see it as over the top, he saw everything he did as beautiful until the rest of the world did too. That's a legacy that goes a bit beyond the music for me, more of a cultural impact and something that felt meaningful to kids like me. Musically some of that drama and rock influence trickles its way into American Dreeming, but this EP was more so shaped by my admiration for some of the writers I grew up on. I lived through this sort of reign of radio pop with titans like Max Martin and Ester Dean writing every other song on top 40 and I've learned everything I know about pop songwriting from them, they're masters of their craft and so much of this EP is an extension of their music.
7. Q: - One question that I like to ask artists is, how did Covid affect your music and the music scene in your area in particular?
A: - Well, living in LA at the height of the lockdown was brutal to be quite honest. I lost everything I had. I lost my job, I lost family, and I moved back east to wait out the worst of it. It was a really dark time but the vast majority of the music I wrote for Amercan Dreeming came from this past year. I needed this outlet to bring myself out of this year. It's wild to me that a song like "Shine" could come as a result of grief but it really did. So now being in a place where I'm back on the west coast and I'm finally releasing this music I'm experiencing a lot of euphoria and I'm in a really good place.
8. Q: - I, myself, personally think that there’s too much social media out there to keep up with. I understand why it’s necessary but there’s a ton of it out there. What are your feelings on social media and music today?
A: - It's an interesting dichotomy because you're right in the sense that it is necessary in some ways but it can also hinder as much as it helps. It's this sort of foe presentation that the artist now has full control over their image and how they connect with fans but labels are too savvy to leave a risk like that wideout in the open if they've got money backing an artist. Ultimately, it's about control and connection. Connecting with the fans is always the goal but who has the control over the image is the ambiguous part. I think those that genuinely reach their audience with social media and feel tapped into it with them, it's incredible. There's never been an era in music like this where fans have this sort of all day and all night accessibility to their artists.
9. Q: - When can we expect another song or album from you?
A: - I wouldn't keep anyone waiting too long for anything. Like I said, I've got well over a hundred songs in the mix just for this project alone and some of the best are just waiting for the right moment to be released. So I'd keep an eye out for a few follow-up singles down the line.
10. Q: - I grew up in the 90’s, I listened to everyone from Dr. Dre, to Weezer, to Pink Floyd, Metallica, Cypress Hill and back again. I truly believe that the 90’s were one of the greatest era’s for original music. Which era of music is one of your favorites?
A: - It's funny because when we pick apart which eras we deem "the best" in music it's either out of our own nostalgia or this sort of appropriated nostalgia. Truthfully, I'm envious of it! Because as great as the archival records and live performances are from eras like the 60's and 70's I'll never really get that feeling of what it must've felt like to live through those eras of music. They inform everything around us in the moment, they make you dream and they make you dance, they accompany these moments in your life that you'll always remember. That can't be recreated or repurposed, I think it only exists in the actual moment as you're living through that era of music.
11. Q- Your stuff sounds real professional. Do you write, record, produce yourself?
A: - Thank you! My process varies a bit but usually, it starts with the concept of the song, I'll mark out the "bones" to the melody and piece together different production ideas before I cut a rough demo just so we have something to work off of. I've been really fortunate to work with some phenomenally talented young producers through this and then when ideas are feeling a little more concrete I'll go in with my engineer and we'll maybe work on the song over a period of days. After that, it's all mixing and revisions for weeks before we're finally there.
12. Q- I want to thank you for this Q&A, Is there anything you want to say to everyone out there?
A: - Thank you again for taking the time to cover my debut and share American Dreeming. For anyone who listens to the EP, thank you for lifting it up and stay tuned for what's next. This is only the beginning.