Electronic music has become associated with over-the-top lyrics, the plastic veneer of party-time superficiality. But in any medium, some people are writing from the heart, and that can obscure a simple reality: writing from your most vulnerable places can be hard.
Whatever your music-making medium of choice, you may resonate with artist Dominique Dillon de Byington – born in Brazil, raised in Germany, now goes by the simpler Dillon. Berlin-based, English-language Electronic Beats has taken their superb video series Slices from a hard-to-locate DVD to the mass audience of YouTube, and shorts like this demonstrate why that’s good news.
Dillon is making heartfelt, poignant songs paired with lucid production, first on “The Silence Kills” and now brings those same sensibilities with still greater depth on her second outing, the album “The Unknown” on BPitch Control (the label helmed by Ellen Allien).
But it’s a struggle, one that’s easy to recognize. On a secluded Winterreise through slightly bleak-and-gray, damp German forests, she reveals how she worked through the potential creative blocks. She stopped writing, for one – sometimes the only cure to a creative block is a retreat. But then she also turned to middle-of-the-night forced writing sessions, visited by the half-awake muse. (There’s, of course, physiological phenomena coming to your aid in that state, as your brainwaves shift to creativity-inducing frequencies in the half-asleep mode of relaxation.)
Less it seems that creativity dooms us all to moody mid-morning insomnia, it’s gratifying to hear Dillon also talk about how nice it is to be with someone onstage, and in production. There, she’s celebrating the singular moment of performance just as the lyrics relish nameless, genderless timelessness.
You can watch other episodes of Slices now on EB.TV @ YouTube, including The Mole on dining and master-producers Jon Hopkins and Moderat meeting up for a superstar chat about production.
It’s worth even reading her lyrics. They have a simple, child-like quality, in cheery, onomatopoeiaic rhymes.. It’s Shel Silverstein meets Emily Dickinson, half-remembered after a dream.
How much of a talent is Dillon? Watch her almost-chilling sense of ease in singing, accompanied by wonderfully-tweaky Moog sounds from co-producer Tamer Fahri Özgönenc, in an extended live documentary for German cultural TV on ZDF. (Dialog is German with German subtitles, but the music is worth a watch even if you don’t speak the language.) (Özgönenc’s unsung – and non-singing – production contributions here I think are equally worth mentioning. The two have an obvious and natural rapport in production and phrase alike.)
And an official video for you, featuring her keyboard chops, in the first official release from the new record. The visuals are simple and perhaps not terribly innovative, but sometimes less is more – and the performance on the track speaks for itself:
And previously, on creativity and vulnerability, our friend Moldover.