Dylan Owen, a hip-hop artist raised in New York, released his first album “Senioritis” in 2010. Owen has opened for a variety of artists including Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa and Asher Roth, playing shows in major United States cities. His follow up, was the 2012 release “Keep Your Friends Close,” and his most recent EP “There’s More To Life” dropped on June 8th.
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Mike O’Keefe: Was getting involved in music something you always wanted to do, or was it an evolutionary process?
Owen loves diving into a destination’s culture, going past the touristy areas and really engaging with the locals.
Dylan Owen: It’s something I wanted to do around the 6th grade. I loved writing my whole life and doing creative things like drawing, sketching and writing stories — stuff like that. I just didn’t really know what form that was going to take, but around the 6th grade was when I started formulating that [creativity] into music. Pretty much from then on I was set on it; I was very excited about the idea.
MO: It’s pretty much like anything else, when you find something you really like it’s fun — it’s awesome.
DO: Yeah exactly, you can cruise forward with it.
MO: Who are some artists you can credit with influencing your music? Why?
DO: Definitely Sage Francis, the rapper. I love his intellectual side — the way he plays with words. That’s something when growing up was very refreshing to me and inspired me a lot. I also grew up on Atmosphere, Eyedea, Brother Ali — a lot of the kind of indie, hip-hop guys and Aesop Rock. Also, one of the first hip-hop albums I got was the Blackstar album with Talib Kweli and Mos Def.
MO: Great album.
DO: Yeah, yeah — great album. That was like my favorite thing. I would listen to it over and over again. I had this older friend who was super into hip-hop and he introduced me to that. It made me fall in love with the lyrical side of hip-hop — it just really related to what I was writing. I loved that stuff — definitely the lyrics, writing and energy.
Photo courtesy | Anthony Quintano
MO: Growing up only an hour outside of New York City, describe what it is like to be in the city that never sleeps, but at the same time being able to retreat upstate to a more secluded atmosphere.
DO: I am very grateful I am able to retreat back to this area especially for making music, it’s really peaceful here. It is kind of crazy how different it was living in the city. I just lived down there for three and a half years and it’s pretty crazy how different it is here, just about an hour and a half outside of the city. Here there are a lot of small town Americana artifacts that you really don’t see elsewhere, it’s so different to NYC where everything is happening 24/7. It was bit of a culture shock living down there, I definitely had to adjust and get used to it. I think that where I like to write music will always be in a more peaceful place — a more relaxed place. I have a lot of great childhood friends here, and a lot of them love the music.
MO: Peaceful is perfect. Being in a peaceful environment gets you in the right mindset to create, whatever it is. Can you describe an amazing travel experience you had? What stood out to you?
DO: Yes, definitely. I have a lot of family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I went down there two winters ago and spent a lot of time with them — about two weeks down there. It was amazing. I think what stood out is the way people were super nice, super welcoming and made sure we were comfortable the whole time. There was so much to do down there too, but probably the biggest takeaway was just how beautiful of an area that is. I honestly think it may be the most beautiful place on Earth. There’s the mountains leading into ocean, and then the city of Rio de Janeiro wrapping out around the ocean. So, you have mountains, the ocean, and the city all in one place — pretty ridiculous; paradise on Earth. That was probably the coolest trip of my life.
Photo courtesy | Bahia
MO: That pretty much separates it from any other place you can go — that’s really cool. How does music and travel fit together?
DO: It fits together in a lot of different ways. When I am traveling, I am super inspired, I meet a bunch of strangers, I get new stories and I incorporate that into my music. It inspires the content of my songs, and just gives me a different perspective. It’s kind of a refresher on my day-to-day life. It lets me see the outside world in a new way.
MO: Everything is so fresh, taking in everything — it’s great. If you could perform and record anywhere in the world, where would you go?
DO: That’s a tough question. I would want to go somewhere really scenic and secluded, maybe somewhere in New Zealand. That is a place I’ve always wanted to go. One of my best friends was born in Christchurch, New Zealand. I always wanted to go there, kind of visit his hometown and just check it out. That would be really incredible to go there.
Photo courtesy | Tom Hall
MO: When you know someone from the area, you can definitely get involved with the culture and different people? What are you looking for when on vacation? Relaxation? A party? Or a mix of both?
DO: I am probably looking for relaxation, but I’m actually looking to learn a little bit. Learn about new experiences, new culture and meet some new people. Those are the things that I love about getting away and changing up what I’m doing.
MO: When you come home, those are the things you remember also so that’s cool.
DO: Definitely. Those are the things you can talk about for the next three years of your life.
MO: Every country has a festival or celebration that stands out, what is one that you would like to travel to?
DO: Brazil has their festival in February every year, Carnival. That’s a huge event, something they prepare months and months for. When I was down there they were actually getting ready for it and having rehearsals. That’s something that I would love to see. I heard it is absolutely wild.
MO: When visiting a new location what is the first thing you try and do?
DO: The first thing I try to do is just take in the area. Understand where I am and how it’s different from where I’m from. I take note of the culture’s etiquette and make sure I am being self-aware in this new area.
Photo courtesy | Andrés Nieto Porras
MO: Everyone has a bucket list, what is a destination that would be on yours?
DO: Another destination, I think would be Iceland. I think that would be really, really cool to go to. Some artists I am a fan of recorded in Iceland. I know the new Damien Rice CD was recorded in Iceland in this cool underground pool area. He went and worked on it with Rick Rubin — it’s an awesome album. It would be really cool to see that — both the music and scenic sides of Iceland that everybody talks about. I am definitely a big fan of the more scenic, secluded areas.
MO: Lastly, do you have any shows or a tour planned?
DO: I am working on planning a tour for the “There’s More to Life” EP which will involve a bunch of traveling. Hopefully I’ll go to Colorado, I have a great fan base there. Then hopefully Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Boston — a lot of the Northeast areas. Definitely looking forward to that.
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For more on Owen visit his website and listen to his new EP: