I recently had the pleasure of interviewing their singer-guitarist Dylan Gilbert.
S16: Can you remember the moment – the epiphany – that made you decide to become a songwriter?
Epiphanies are rare. At least the ones that I think I might’ve had. My decision to be a songwriter, in any serious sense, happened over an extended period of time. I can’t remember exact moments, but maybe seasons. I was constantly creating things when I was a youngster. Painting, writing story books, making movies. Nothing particularly impressive or refined, just a kid enjoying the process. For a long time I thought I might like to be a storybook writer and illustrator when I grew up, but somewhere around 7th or 8th grade I discovered music. More specifically an old cassette tape four-track. And though I studied guitar in college and it’s always been my primary instrument, the aspect of music that always drew me in was creation. The idea that I could, with sound, make a piece of art and express myself was beyond exciting.
S16: Mentally, do you find writing songs for your solo work to be much different from your approach with Hectorina?
Not really. I used to. Since 2005 I’d been touring as a singer-songwriter type (and I hate that description, but it does apply) I really wanted Hectorina to stand apart, because it’s music created by three people and I wanted it to be obvious that this project was something totally new and completely collaborative. So, early on, I did consciously bring certain songs or ideas to Hectorina and try to separate my ideas mentally. But, now I’ll try any concept or idea with the band and if it doesn’t work we’ll move on. Sometimes creative compartmentalizing can make you feel crazy. Also, to be honest, making another solo record isn’t something I’m terribly interested in at the moment. I’m really proud of the two most recent ones, but if I ever make another album by myself I’d like for it to be something very very different. I’ve made an obnoxious amount of records and there’s no reason to make a sequel to any of them.
S16: Who are some of your favorite live acts at the moment?
Favorite live acts? Hmmm. I’ve been extremely interested in a lot of performance art heavy groups lately. Andy the Doorbum’s Alien Native Movement, XOXO’s Bohemian Grove, Three-Brained Robot (out of Greensboro/New Orleans), Fratmouth (out of Columbia). There are a lot of irony-laced garage rock / lo-fi whatever bands around right now that are hard for me to get excited about. Thankfully artists like Bo White, Jordan Hoban, Southern Femisphere and T0W3RS are keeping things interesting around the southeast.
S16: You have always struck me as a very thoughtful and encouraging person for other artists (myself included). Any advice for those struggling with the weight of their artistic insecurities?
So many people that I’ve met in my life have what I perceive to be this spark, a passion. A potential to create profound music, art, poetry, statements, to lead groups to promote social change and awareness, whatever! I used to think it was an anointed gift given only to a chosen few, but now I wonder if a large majority of people (if they were willing and in the right mindset) could create amazing works and do impactful things for the betterment of [themselves] and the people around them.
I think because I’ve been doing music and writing for so long that some assume I don’t live with insecurities of my own. The truth is that I deal with my own anxieties, apprehension and fear constantly (Constantly! As I’m writing this to you!). I think most people do. And as an artist it’s easy to come to this “What the hell is the point of making more or writing another thing” conclusion, but I can’t stop. I can’t stop or that’s the end of me. And I’d like to encourage as many people around me as possible because I believe we run on the treadmills a lot in life and creative thinking and art disrupts all that. Honest art. Art that reflects the times. Art that makes a statement and promotes change.
I think sometimes even the people making music or art aren’t being true to themselves. It’s something I see in our scene right here. They’re following trends or trying to be marketable or whatever. I’ve fell victim to that kind of crap before, but it’s all just a racket. I say throw your insecurities out the window because you have to or you’re dead (or brain dead). I know this can sound like old hippie jargon, but I really believe this. Wake up every morning a beat your insecurities to death. While you’re standing over the corpse of your uncertainty let your soul outpour as openly, honestly and unabashedly as you can. Keep as much humility and awareness as possible. Stand up, say something, don’t be the popular opinion, turn off your TV, don’t follow what’s trending online, don’t do what you did yesterday, move forward. Don’t be afraid anymore.