INTERVIEW – THE DILL
Dylan Hudecki is a staple to Hamilton’s music scene. He’s a friend I met early in my I Heart Hamilton travels and is one of the most supportive local music champions, and a prolific artist himself. You know him from many different bands – he’s a former member of By Divine Right, frontman of Cowlick, High Kites bassist, plus there’s his other side project Awesollator.
The Dill released his first solo album at the beginning of this year. Well, it’s still in the process of being released! It’s called 52 and he has been releasing one song each week. A different Canadian artist contributed the visual to each single. It’s such a cool concept – 52 songs, 52 weeks, 52 cards. You can stream them all on The Dill‘s site – pick a card, any card!
52 is hitting the halfway mark, and I Heart Hamilton is very pleased to premiere the track for Week 23 – “I Love You in Kenora,” a duet featuring Canadian artist Sarah Harmer – listen below. Artwork by my friend Evan Bond!
After the jump – my chat with The Dill to learn more about this ambitious project.
I Heart Hamilton: You’ve played in many bands over the years – have you always had in mind to do a solo album one day?
The Dill: Yes I have. There is something quite liberating and challenging and nerve racking as an artist to make a solo record. I didn’t think it would be 52 songs though. Ha!
Are you someone who is always writing, or do you have more dedicated periods of time where you hunker down and work on a project?
Songs can and do come to me whenever I sit down with a guitar or piano. Everytime. It’s an occurrence (curse, depending on how you look at it) that I’ve lived with my whole life. I can’t play you a cover song if you handed me a guitar at the cottage because I’m not “that guy”, but I could write you a song on the spot. This being said, during the long editing and mixing portion of this project (2014/15) I rarely played piano or picked guitar on purpose, so I wouldn’t write anything new, further complicating my goal. I needed to finish the 52, and take them as far as I could go. As of 2016, new songs have been arriving steadily.
What was it like going back to songs you had written years ago and to revisit them to record for 52? Does your relationship to the songs change over time?
Yes some of them are time warps, back to a time when I wrote them. For example, Kevin Drew and I use to call each other and sing songs on each others voice mails. He and I never recorded them, except for one I recorded off my phone, very lo-fi. It was in 2000. I had it on my hard drive since then, but when I was going through my archives of 100’s of “sketches” I listened to it again, I recorded some guitar, wrote lyrics, added drums, and a song appeared. So that was a noteworthy example of how far back I’ve gone, and how I’ve added colours along the way. I’ve never played many of these songs live, so much of the relationships are just in the writing, and in the exploring of them. Playing them live (if I ever do) will further them, and give them better context for people to see and hear.
Oooh – so can we expect to hear you play some of these songs live? Or was it just intended as a recorded project?
Yes and yes…. inevitably. I don’t know if I’ll mount a band, or just learn a bunch by myself and make a solo songwriter set. It’s a daunting process, one I avoid as it’s a LOT of work, more than the layman would think, and I’m presently avoiding it. I have the most fun and am fulfilled completely in the writing, recording & collaborating in studio.
There are tons of collaborations on these songs – who are some of the local musicians who appear on the album?
There are 119 people that help me make this record. Musicians, visual artists, mixers masterers. I’m so fortunate and humbled by the whole thing. Some did a little, some did a lot. As far as local musicians? Adam Bentley, Steve Mckay, Jimmy Hayes, Cam Malcolm, Steve Pitkin, Ryan Ferguson, Dawn Larsh, Max Kerman, Mark Sasso, Dan Edmonds, Wayne Petti, Loretta Hale, Dan Empringham, I could keep going….Tony Evans, Drew Smith, Adam Melnick, Armando Vega, Chris Marks, Brad Germain, Jeremy Widerman…seriously, I could still keeping going…..
This week’s song features Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer – how did that collaboration come to be?
In March 2015, the JUNOs were in Hamilton. Sarah and I played at the JUNO Cup, which is a celebrity ice hockey game between Canadian musicians and NHL alumni greats.
I invited her over for tea the next day if we weren’t put in the hospital by Wendell Clark during the game. He left us alone thankfully, and she came over and sang in my basement. She liked my tune about missing your loved one when you’re halfway around the world, it’s called “I love you in Kenora”.
Was it difficult to keep your perspective on such a huge project like this? It must have been overwhelming at times!
It did take a lot of planning and emailing. Music aside, I still had to correspond with the 45 visual artists that I had lined up to submit art for the deck of cards, that accompany the music. So this whole project was actually double the work. But it never felt like work. It was just hobby project management. I’ve made art for the sake of art, and I’ve taken 119 people along with me. I think that’s why it worked. People said yes because of the grandiose scope and because there was no big money making plan at the end of it. It’s just pure art making. I collaborate with the songs, people send me art. I compile them, I release them one a week for the year. The end.
You’ve always been such a champion of Hamilton’s music scene. What are some major changes you’ve seen over the years?
Lots. Consistently good shows at the many legit venues is a big one. That being said, I firmly believe there still needs to be way more community support of people coming to the club shows as that’s the secret ingredient. If the band is good, the sound and lights are rad, the songs are awesome (especially if you’ve heard them at home a few times to familiar yourself with them), the missing variable is PEOPLE. So often I’ve been to poorly attended shows which suck for the band, bar, fans. It hurts as an artist. If the EXACT same performance happened, it would’ve/could’ve been a banger of a show if there were a room full of people there. It’s just that simple.
Favourite place to eat in Hamilton:
Oh boy! Ok. Sushi-August 8; Pho-Pho Dau Bo; Burgers-Burnt Tongue; Pizza-Bella; Fine dinning-Aberdeen Tavern; Mexican-Mesa/Mule/Mezcal; Casual-Work; Charcuterie- the Strathcona. So many.
Favourite breakfast food:
I’m really getting into granola and yogurt lately. Definately orange pekoke tea too. I’m not a coffee guy, but I definately need caffeine still. I teach kids, remember? Ha!
If you were a drink, what would you be:
I’m a milkshake, chocolate milk kind of treat drink guy…so naturally booze wise I frequently choose White Russians. So I guess my answer depends on whether you were asking for daytime dad Dill, or night time party Dill.
Your go-to karaoke song:
Man, I don’t wanna give away all my secrets! But a few I’ve done recently at Jeraoke night at the Strathcona were, “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan, and an old standard “Sunglasses At Night” by Montreal’s own Corey Hart.
If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be?:
I do a pretty bad ass British accent that inevitably slips into a very fluid Liverpoolian John Lennon.
Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen:
Timber Timbre blew my mind at Massey Hall a few years ago. Caribou at Casbah. Hayden & Sloan at my school [Dundas Valley Montessori]. Seeing Paul McCartney at the Skydome when I was a kid was life changing. Nirvana at Maple Leaf Gardens…… too many to mention.
What is on your playlist right now:
I like going back in time a bit with music as I think we are too caught up in this day and age with Newism… new movies, new books, new trends, new music… has to be new. Right now I’m listening to a mix of Futureheads, Mt. Eerie, Boards of Canada, Califone…. all great stuff. Latest purchases (as I don’t do the Spotify thing) are: Deerhunter, Radiohead, Plants & Animals and Hamilton’s own Junior Boys, Young Rival, Jessy Lanza. Music is never off at our house. In the kitchen, living room, ambient music to sleep too. We’re immersed. The kids are now able to ask to listen to the Talking Heads or Wintersleep. It’s pretty cute.
If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?:
I spent a few days in Byron Bay, Australia years ago and loved every second of it. I can do the beach bum thing pretty well. I’d love a beach house to live in year round. That’d be sooo sweet. We’d listen to Beach House too. Ha!
Favourite mode of transportation:
That’s easy, bicycle.
Thanks, D! Loving the record so far, and can’t wait to hear the rest of these tunes!