INTERVIEW: DYLAN STEVENS (ARTIST VS POET)

Photo by Sara Kiesling

I think it's important as a musician to remember why we all got into music. I see a lot of my friends losing sight of what music really means to them because of the rapidly changing music industry (I'm sure some probably think the same about me). Yes, I believe in adapting to change. Yes, I believe in doing what it takes to succeed in the mainstream world. I dream of hearing my songs on the radio and playing arenas. I don't believe there should be any limit to my success as a musician. But for me, it all goes back to my inspiration. It doesn't matter that most of my favorite artists will never make it on the radio. It doesn't matter that some of them aren't even around anymore. What matters is that they inspired me to pick up a guitar. They inspired me to follow my dreams. It's important to appreciate music for what it is, not what it could/should be. I appreciate ALL types of music for different reasons. Pop, indie, country, electronic etc... It all relates to me in different ways. For me, music is about how it makes me feel. Whether it's a powerful lyric, a bass drop, or a catchy hook, whatever... if it makes me feel something, I'm in. My music taste is constantly changing, but the one thing that will never change is my passion. I live to inspire and to be inspired. Don't lose sight of what's important just because it's not right in front of you. –Dylan Stevens

 

First off, tell us a little about yourself. (How did you know you wanted to be a musician/ How long have you been playing music. ect.)

My name is Dylan Stevens. I'm a 24 year-old kid living in Los Angeles and I play guitar in the band Artist VS Poet. I first became inspired to play music when I was a pre-teen by watching music videos. I used to sit in front of my TV all day long watching MTV (back when they played videos) and dream about being a rockstar. I started out on the drums when I was 11, but never really made much progress with it. I got my first guitar when I was 13 and couldn't put it down. I started my first band when I was 15 and I haven't stopped since.

 

Do you have new music coming out soon?

Yes! Artist VS Poet has been writing vigorously over the summer and we plan to have a new record out this Fall. We decided to switch gears a little bit since our release of "Remember This" and shoot for a more fun and upbeat sound. The new record will also be full band.

 

What musicians currently stick out to you and inspire you?

One of my favorites lately is an artist by the name of Frankmusik. His record "Complete Me" is very electro-pop with almost an 80's vibe. I've been heavily influenced by electronic music lately and I like how he blends that element with catchy, hooky vocals. Very underrated artist and songwriter.

I've also been on a huge Parachute kick for last 5 months. Can't seem to put down their latest record "The Way It Was". As I listen to each song and I sit there and think to myself "why didn't think of that?" or "I wish I wrote this song....". I also love how universal they are. They can appeal to almost anyone. No gimmicks. Just a real, modest sound.

 

What are your top 5 records that have impacted you?

Phantoms - Acceptance

Is A Real Boy - Say Anything

Regulate the Chemicals - Twothirtyeight

Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather - My American Heart

Hot Fuss - The Killers

 

I see a lot of musicians losing sight of what music really means to them because of the rapidly changing music industry. Why do you play music?

I find it sad to see musicians become victims of the music industry, so much so that they forgot why they started. I'm a firm believer in adapting to the changing times and getting paid to do what I love, but for me passion comes first. It's important to maintain your inner 14-year-old, but if you're asking me why I play music....

I play music because it's really the only constant to me and I like the way it makes me feel. There are a million different paths I could have taken, but they all would have led me back to playing music. At the end of the day, there is not a single profession out there more rewarding than being a musician, in SO many ways. There's nothing like being in the studio and hearing your creation come to life, then seeing it touch thousands of people. There's nothing like running around on stage with your best friends and hearing the crowd singing your words back to you. It's incredible. In this life almost everything will come and go. Music is forever.

 

There are a lot of musicians who have their own clothing lines now. How do you think yours differs?

Honestly, I never set out to do much with it. I had some clever ideas to make into wristbands and t-shirts that reflected my sober lifestyle, so I just ran with it. It wasn't until I started getting messages and e-mails from kids saying that my lifestyle had inspired them to stay drug and alcohol free that I began to take it a little more seriously. People told me some really heart-wrenching stories about friends and family members who struggled with addicted, even people they had lost due to drunk driving accidents. It was a big eye-opener for me. I know the main reason most people in bands start clothing lines is to make extra money, and it's a brilliant idea. But often most people have a hard time being original or having any real purpose for their line to exist. I feel my line has a purpose, and that's what sets it apart. The purpose is to inspire people to be responsible and live a healthy lifestyle. So far I think it's working.

 

Now, more than ever, music is ever-changing. What do you think is one genre of music that you hope will never go out of style?

ROCK. I love love love pop music, but we know it will never go away. Rock is an interesting genre. People say it's dead, but as long as I can still plug an electric guitar into an amp and rock out on stage, I'll be happy.

 

Is there a moment that sticks out in your head that made you realize that this is the perfect job for you?

When my mom said: "I don't want to waste money on college." Love you mom! I owe all my success to you!

 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where's one place you would like to either play a show at again, or play it for the first time?

I'd love to play in Indonesia. I hear the kids go NUTS there.

 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned working in the music industry?

Always be willing to adapt. The industry is constantly changing. If you aren't willing to adapt to change, you won't make it. If you do, congratulations, you've officially stuck it to the man.

 

What would your dream tour lineup be? Why?

Acceptance

Twothirtyeight

My American Heart

Further Seems Forever

The Juliana Theory

All of these bands broke up and I never got to see any of them live. (I did hear a rumor that FSF is putting out a new record with Chris Carrabba on vox which gets me really excited.)

 

How do you think being a musician now, in this age of social media, differs from before?

Music today is WAY more accessible than it was back in the day because of the internet. Even the artists themselves are more accessible. It's both good and bad in my opinion. Modern social media has made it much easier for artists to reach a large audience efficiently and quickly. Fans can stay up-to-date on their favorite artists by the millisecond with twitter, Facebook, and tumblr. They can buy their songs on itunes. They can watch live performances on sites like stickam and ustream. These are things that never existed a couple decades ago. It's amazing because it allows us to keep in touch with our fans on a personal level. Here's why it's bad... EVERYONE thinks they can be a "musician" now! It's really really easy to take your crappy demo into a studio and turn it into a masterpiece. Also, there are SO many artists pumping out SO much music SO quickly, that people have become so fickle. They wear out a song in just a matter of weeks until it's dead and meaningless, then they move on to the next thing. Once something becomes more and more accessible, it becomes less and less appealing. Because of the internet, everything in music moves so much faster. It's never been easier to become a rockstar overnight, but it's also never been more difficult to stay relevant.

 

Lastly, if you could have one wish for your musical career what would it be?

To be on the cover of inspirer.nu ;) or win a Grammy. Whichever comes first.