Dylan Cartlidge plays songs from 'Hope Above Adversity,' reflects on music as an escape

Dylan Cartlidge - Virtual Session (MPR)

Dylan Cartlidge plays songs from his debut record, 'Hope Above Adversity,' in a virtual session. Plus, Dylan catches up with Mary Lucia about recording in his laundry room, and finding an escape through music.

Interview Highlights

Edited for clarity and length.

MARY LUCIA: 89.3 The Current. I'm Mary Lucia, and you are watching a virtual session with our special guest, Dylan Cartlidge. Dylan, I'm so happy to meet you because--I know you don't know me, but I would never say this if I didn't mean it. The second we started playing "Anything Could Happen" on The Current I declared it the summer jam of '21.

DYLAN CARTLIDGE: Thank you so much very genuinely, it means so much for me to hear you say that. It really has felt like throughout this whole pandemic anything hopefully can happen from here on and I can't thank you enough for the support and for having me.

Well, it's it's really true, because "Anything Can Happen" doesn't necessarily mean all positive, amazing things. But there's something so hopeful about this song and not to mention that it's just got the most stinking, amazing groove. I want to know more about you because I know you had an interesting start up, in terms of how people became familiar with you, but let's go back even further. Tell me what you were like as a kid.

Yeah, to be honest, I had a real difficult, real traumatic childhood. I had to look after my brother who is autistic and he was eight years, nine years younger than I, so I was like a parent as a child and had a real, real traumatic upbringing. Throughout that, I came to a crossroads where it was, you know, was I going to be going along this kind of statistical negative route of being on drugs, or imprisoned, or worse? A lot of people around me were in those lanes, and music effectively saved my life. Ever since then it really is, "anything could happen," you know, I am hopefully the embodiment of that. Since then I'm just trying my best to take absolutes--just make the most I can of this opportunity that I've been given, I really do feel like, on the basis of that, I'm very lucky to be here, let alone be talking to you right now.

So at what age was it that you even started thinking, "Well, you know, I love music, I love listening to music, going to see music." What age were you around, when you decided "I'm going to write my own stuff"?

It would have been around probably been around 10 or 11, where we really began to get into it. And I began to kind of write raps about my experiences. And it really, you know, was kind of like a coping mechanism for me, I would have loved to have just said, I kind of got into music because I enjoyed it. I got into it really out of necessity and, and it was my escape and really meant a lot to me. I was a massive fan of music, and obviously as a kid, just a lot of rap, a lot of pop music, but really my start and my connection with music was through writing about my experiences and trying to make sense of them.

How many people have you had, and of course, no one can ever anticipate that--how many people have come to you and said, "You could have been writing that for me."

True, a lot of people have to be honest. And it really is an amazing thing. Because, essentially from--the hope has always been that I really, you know, probably as a kid and in my situation needed some positive role models, or needed to hear some stuff sometimes because it felt like I was all alone and that nobody was really there to tell me that things were weren't okay, or that things were gonna get better or that there was any out. So I'm really hoping to be able to give that hope that I didn't have as a kid and there's been so many people who have come through and said, "You know, this song is--you don't know how much this means to me," or, "You really don't know how this has helped me," and really that is such an invaluable kind of crazy thing to hear for me to be honest.

And before everything, locked down and shut down, you had gotten the opportunity to play some festivals, some pretty large in charge places. What was that experience like?

Oh, man, it was so crazy, you know, I got the opportunity to come and play South By [Southwest] in the states. My first ever show in the states, that was crazy. I got the opportunity to play Glastonbury and really this whole thing has just kind of been like, every time something like this happens, the whole experience just feels like 'pinch yourself' material. Like I say everything feels like a bonus and, and just having crazy moments where you know, going out to New York and meeting your heroes like Julian Casablancas and Danger Maus and just bumping it, you know, really crazy things and to be honest, I just got to pinch myself and have to just double check and be like, "You're talking to me, right? Me?" Yeah, it feels very surreal.

I always want to know, like, when when you do those festivals, those huge ones, at least my romantic idea of it is that you can make friends with the bands behind the stage behind the scenes, everybody's got to have a general area where they hang out, or if certain bands come to watch your set, that must feel crazy.

It's one of those things where everybody you know, whether you've been there 1000 times and you're rocking up and you're like, "Oh no, where the roadies at? Where the passes at?" Whether it's your first time and you're absolutely, you know, kneehigh, you're mod--I kind of feel like what, regardless of whether you're loving this or you're a veteran and you're here and you're just you know, you're engaged in it, I feel like you are in that experience with everybody and for better or for worse you are in that moment. It's a moment that you share, it's a moment in time and you share it with people and you really get to know people. I feel like even regardless of if you're playing or not, festivals really are just an encapsulation for me at least of time and where everybody lets their hair down and experiences something together. I feel like it's either--it feels like something that's close to being I don't know those Hollywood movies that you see where people get snowed in like The Hateful Eight or something you know? Just get locked in somewhere in a cabin somewhere, and the roads covered up with snow and we're all stuck here but it's amazing. It is a really amazing experience

Well we're gonna hear "Anything Could Happen" and then we'll come back and chat some more this is 89.3 The Current, Dylan Cartlidge.

[music: "Anything Could Happen" by Dylan Cartlidge]

It's 89.3 The Current I'm Mary Lucia, special guest here is Dylan Cartlidge. Now that song "Anything Could Happen," where were you recording that particular song?

I was recording in and amongst underwear and bits of of clothes and laundry because it was in the in the laundry room in the back of the house when things locked down. I was at home, I did have a studio but I have really bad asthma and so I kind of was locked down at home I didn't leave the house for like seven months and I brought my studio into the laundry room. So whenever somebody--I'd be doing interviews like this, I was doing one interview with a radio station in Peru and somebody had come in and needed to get some bread. Everybody knows that vibe. And so this song was made and recorded at home in my laundry room amongst all the kind of underwear you can imagine.

That is the most swinging underwear laundry room because of the results of that song. The groove in that pocket is so like, it was one of those songs Dylan when I first heard it, it was like, and this doesn't happen a lot, but I first heard it, maybe 35 seconds in, and I was like, "I cannot wait to hear this again." And so I'm wondering when you're writing a tune like that amongst a bunch of filthy drawers, do you have the sense that, "Oh my god, I am like--this is the summer jam."

You know what? What I find when I'm writing songs, or what I found when I wrote this song in particular, even when you're onto something that feels like it could be special or feels like you're really jamming it? It's crazy because for me, I feel like you're in this mode, right? Where you just sort of autonomously--well, for me, I kind of autonomously go into it. And you're sort of--you're following your nose, you know? Us musicians for the most part are just weirdo people who listen to the same four bars of music on repeat for 12 hours a day and only come out at night like vampiric nocturnal creatures. And I feel like when you're chasing a song, you know, I've seen myself as like a groove doctor or something, and I'm trying to find the groove, and I'm following it with my nose. And you do get these moments where things just seem to fall into place, and things just align and you're like, "Oh, that worked. And that worked. And that worked. And that worked." And then you're like, "Oh, my God, am I onto something here?" But what I find is that the second that you stop and say, "Whoa, hang on a second, we've got something good in the back here. This is a banger," I feel like you're always at the risk of letting the moment go. And it's the hardest thing is to be able to just not get in the way of the song and be like, "I've created something great here!" And just run with it and get as many ideas out as you can, and then hope to God that you press record and that it's all there when you finish at the end of the day.

I know that is so true. And I know too from speaking to so many musicians that if you were to sit down and try to write "Anything Could Happen Part 2," it's like, [pfffhht] that's not gonna happen! Sometimes it's just, you caught lightning in a bottle. I'm not suggesting that you aren't going to have plenty more radio hits, but I'm just saying my god, I think if you sat down and thought, "Well, I've got to replicate whatever that was," it's overthinking and probably wouldn't work.

1,000,000% I really do feel like I'm a vessel for for the music that I create. The only time that I seem to be in a rut, or the only time when I seem to like--can't get songs or they don't feel right to me is when I've always made the mistake or slipped into the bog or slipped into the bath of really believing that I'm the mastermind of music and my own destiny, my own music. And I've now got the secret formula, the Krabby Patty SpongeBob formula, and I know exactly what it is. And that's when I probably you know, end up writing a load of throwaway songs for months and months until I realize just shut up and let it happen.

It's so true, and this song already has gotten some remixes. Am I right?

Yes. Superorganism, who are a super super cool band from all over the world really. I'm such a fan, and they came in and did a remix which was crazy. Orono, the singer, put loops on it, and they just really gave it that you know, that Hawaiian Sponge Bobby sound that I love so much. They've got that squelch, and it sounded fantastic.

So what are--okay, because again, here we are, we're still not completely out of the woods, although bands are announcing shows, you know, fall. What is your plan right now? Do you want to just sort of take this cautiously? Are you going to just like, jump in with both feet?

I think you know, I think I really am. I've had to be cautious and who knows what's going to happen? I don't want to say too much because I feel like whenever I make plans, you know, whenever anybody makes plans in this pandemic, you know, COVID comes along and says, "No." My only plans at the moment is my album is going to be coming out in a little over a week, I'm going to release my album Hope of Adversity on the ninth of July. Then from then the plan is hopefully to come and play some shows in the states hopefully come to the station in Minnesota and come and play some jams. Then, after coming to the States, come back home to the UK and play some shows here. COVID permitting, of course, tentatively, that's the plan.

What was the rollout of the vaccine in the UK? Was it a lot like, were you guys way behind other countries?

I think we were way in front, it was one of the only only things so far really that everybody here felt that like, you know, the country kind of jumped the gun on but in a really good way we really stuck our necks out and said we're going to order this amount and to the point where a lot of other countries here at least in Europe, were kind of unable to get dosages or where having to be on a waiting list for months and months. We really jumped on the vaccine thing early. So I think I had both my jabs in the middle of last year. Luckily, we jumped the gun on that.

Yeah, I remember right before Christmas, there was a big scare in the UK in London proper, might have been a variant or something. We don't have to get too scientific. But I remember a couple of my friends that lived there that were planning to go home for the holidays said, "No, there's no travel at all."

Yeah, it's been crazy. And I'm just hoping, I always hear the process of applying for an American visa for coming from the UK can be a scary process--particularly now with the variants and things. I'm just hoping it can be done on Zoom, because I've seen way too, way too many movies where you know, you come in and I'm the sort of guy with a definitely make some kind of mistake or say the wrong thing. So I'm hoping not to be interrogated.

Well, it's not like you're Keith Richards and it's funny, because I mean, I don't know what the restrictions are, what its gonna be like international flights, and I'm sure there'll be a little more protective, but when I think about bands in the 60s and 70s, and I suppose even 80s and 90s, but I mean, was like, one pinch on your record for having a doobie was like, "No, you're not coming to the US," which is just hilarious to me, you know? And, it was like a reality. It was like, nope, you've got this on your record. So, no.

This is the thing--even until this point, I feel like throughout the course of human history, the biggest, the biggest unsung hero ever, are the team of people that managed to get Keith Moon on an aeroplane to whatever, whatever flight he was on. I think that those people deserve, you know, as many medals as the people in world wars gone.

Oh, God bless money. Well, Dylan, the record's coming out in a week, this is so exciting. The last song that you're going to do, is there anything new that you would like anybody to know about "Cheerleader"?

Yeah, "Cheerleader," I think I want--as much as I maybe sound a little bit preachy with some of my own philosophies and ideas around my own music, but you know, I also am just a fan of escapism and a fan of just being able offer someone to comfort and not have to think too deep into it. And so, with my music, I try to do it in equal measures where if you need a little something under the surface, it's in there. But if you just want to listen and shake it like a Polaroid picture, you can also do that, too. I think "Cheerleader" really sums that up for me. I am a massive film geek and I always have been fascinated with the way that Hollywood movies depict the coming of age and depict high school. I've always found it really say, you know, in the whole social element, everybody knows it's a minefield in real life, the way that Hollywood has depicted it is just so romanticized, and amazing, and the jocks and the geeks, and it's just so cool. And I love that whole thing. And so, I really made the song, it's about self esteem and not having to kind of necessarily look a certain way to be able to shake it like a cheerleader and be your own cheerleader and build your own self esteem. And so if anybody was going to take something from and hope that you know, just whatever, whoever they are, whatever they look like they they don't need to worry about what people think.

That is so great. Well, Dylan, thank you. I'm so glad that you were on this planet that we are orbiting the same planet at the same time. And I am able to listen to this amazing music that you've been putting out and we'll put out we're gonna listen to "Cheerleader" but again, we hope that we'll see you on the other side, of course.

Thank you. Thank you very much. I have one thing to show you as well while I'm here. If for anybody that doesn't believe that I'm The Current's biggest fan--

I believe you're in the laundry room.

If anybody that doesn't believe I'm The Current's biggest fan, I already have this here right this let me check this out real quick. Take my headphones off.

I see the red oval.

That's my flightcase for my bass guitar Maurice. And on that flightcase is 89.3 The Current so that's what I'm saying.

That is so cool. Well, Dylan again, can't wait for the record to drop. And hopefully we'll see you very soon in the States.

I'd love to see you there. Take care until then Mary.

[music: "Cheerleader" by Dylan Cartlidge]

Songs Played

00:01 Hang My Head
10:23 Anything Could Happen
24:54 Cheerleader
All songs appear on Dylan Cartlidge's 2021 album, Hope Above Adversity.

External Link

Dylan Cartlidge - official site


Host - Mary Lucia
Producer - Derrick Stevens
Digital Producer - Jesse Wiza
Technical Director - Eric Romani

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