DYSN took some time off from his busy tour schedule to talk with us about his decision to limit his social media use, the freedom he found in letting the audience create his setlist, new projects, and much more.
Think Before You Type (TBYT): How is tour going so far? Where are you right now?
DYSN: We’re in Madison, Wisconsin, and it’s actually been great here. It’s one of our favorite cities so far. It’s very homey, and we’re all just relaxed here. It’s been great!
TBYT: You’re letting crowds decide your setlist for shows on tour, which is very unique. What made you decide to do that?
DYSN: To be completely honest, just not being prepared. I was rehearsing with tracks, and about a week before, I just decided that I didn’t have enough time to put something really cool together. I write everything on acoustic, so I was just like, “I’ll just ask people. I know them all, so it’ll be pretty easy.” It’s actually been working out. It’s a lot easier to do than the other way around.
TBYT: Does that make you nervous at all? Knowing that you’re putting your setlist in the crowd’s hands?
DYSN: It kind of takes the edge off in a weird way. I think the problem that I personally had with the last tour was that I didn’t know if people were enjoying the songs or if they were going to like what I did because it was only like five songs. It was pretty short and it was a lot of new stuff. So it gives them more of an opportunity to hear their songs that they want to hear. It’s actually less nerve-racking this time.
TBYT: How would you say that you’ve seen the internet play a role in your career?
DYSN: Pretty substantially. It’s where everything is at in my career thus far, so it’s kind of where it’s all invested into. I only use Instagram though. I don’t have any other platform.
DYSN: I don’t know. I’m kind of weird with the social media stuff. I don’t really try to use it that much. It’s not that I don’t try. I’m just not really too drawn to it, to be honest. With the tour, I’m trying a lot more to be active and engage people to come to the shows and all that. But before the tour, I wasn’t really too active and it kind of like draws me away from the other ones because like if I’m barely posting on Instagram, I don’t even think about Twitter.
TBYT: Do you feel like that puts you at a disadvantage at all, or do you feel like you’re able to make that work?
DYSN: I haven’t really seen too much of an issue. I used to have Twitter and everything, and I kind of chopped it off recently. But yeah, it really hasn’t made too big of a difference because I kind of base everything off of the plays I’m getting, and I haven’t seen a change in that at all. If anything, it’s doing a little bit better just with the tour and everything.
TBYT: Do you feel like your life is different from that of other people in our generation because you get to experience more of the real world instead of being on social media all of the time?
DYSN: Definitely, I’ve noticed compared to when I had everything going all of the time and I was constantly engaging, I’m definitely more of a happier person when I’m just living life. I don’t have my phone out. It’s awesome. So it’s yeah, definitely a noticeable difference. I’m pretty used to it now, but at first, I felt like I detoxed in a weird way.
TBYT: What’s one city on this tour that you’ve enjoyed a lot or are looking forward to going to?
DYSN: Definitely Billings, Montana. I’m looking forward to the scenery, and I’ve never been to that area. I don’t know if I’ll be back for a while, so I think that’ll be cool. Toronto and New York are of course always amazing. They’re like my two favorite cities, so those are fun to go to. And surprisingly, Santa Fe as well. The New Mexico culture is so cool to me. And it’s not like something I’ve spent a lot of time around, so it’s always new to me.
TBYT: How would you describe your songwriting process?
DYSN: My writing process revolves around an acoustic guitar for the most part. It’s pretty rare that I’ll get an instrumental from someone and write to that. I’ll usually start with the guitar, and just build off of that.
TBYT: If you could collaborate with any artist in the world who would it be?
DYSN: It would be cool to do it with some bands. Maybe like The Walters or Beach House would be really cool. I really love their stuff. And MGMT because their new album was incredible.
TBYT: How did you get into music?
DYSN: It’s always been surrounding me. My grandparents all play, my parents both play, and my sisters all like sing and everything. So growing up I was always a part of a four-part harmony, just everyone singing. Then my dad bought a pawned super cheap drum kit when I was eight. That was when I kinda started understanding [music]. Then it kinda took off from there, off and on, and that’s pretty much where it started.
TBYT: So do you still play the drums now?
DYSN: I like to when I can. I still own a drum kit and everything, but I don’t ever really get to do it anymore because I’ve been taking this other part pretty seriously now. I don’t really have time, but I wish I did. I enjoy that more than anything.
TBYT: How would you describe your sound?
DYSN: The new stuff is a lot more stripped down. It hasn’t come out yet, but it’s a lot more live instruments. I have strings, live pianos, every song is guitar based. It’s super broken down. I think one song has a drum kit playing live, and that’s it. That one is really me, I guess. You’ll see. The difference is pretty drastic.
TBYT: When is your new project going to be released?
DYSN: Hopefully in the summertime. Obviously the tour kind of put it off, but I’ll have the full month of May to finish it. It’s kind of like my personal deadline. All of the songs are written. I’ve been playing a few on the road. It’s just a matter of me getting into a studio and knocking them out.
TBYT: What inspired you to move onto something different and shift from your previous sound?
DYSN: I guess the old stuff wasn’t really as “me” as I wanted it to be. I was influenced by things that really don’t influence me now. I guess it’s just a growth. The things I’m inspired by now are a lot different. This sounds really weird, but more theatrical type stuff is inspiring me at the moment. More like storytelling. Along with bands like Beach House with more interesting sounds.
TBYT: Are there any specific musicals that are inspiring you right now?
DYSN: The one that I watched and I was like “I need to step up my game” was The Sound of Music. I’ve always loved it.
TBYT: As someone who started their career young, what would you say to young people who are out there who want to get out of the norm and make their own mark on the world?
DYSN: It’s the most cliche thing, but it’s just about finding what really makes you happy. I think the thing that has changed my music the most was when I started making stuff that really made me happy, and I think that it has had an impact on the people around me. They’re way bigger fans of the new stuff, and everyone tells me “that’s much more you.” It’s about finding the thing that really makes you happy and inspired and excited and not trying to make stuff for other people to enjoy. I know people talk about it and say, “oh music is for other people”, but I think if you’re trying to have a stamp, then it’s finding your own happy place.
TBYT: You mentioned that you have this new project that you’re working on that’s coming up. Are there any other goals that you have set for yourself in the near future?
DYSN: I definitely wanted to try to do two projects this year. I think that’s the only goal at the moment. I don’t look too far into the future. I try to be as present as possible. But I would say, yeah, have this project come out and make the other one as soon as I can. Maybe in the fall or winter with a completely different sound, which I already have the idea of. So I want to get them [out] pretty close together.
TBYT: What advice do you have for young people who are dealing with cyberbullying?
DYSN: Just try to stay away from whatever situation got you there. If you have to go private, block somebody, or if you’re engaging in comments that you don’t need to be. For me, it’s staying away. I guess my advice would be to stay away from whatever the situation is.
TBYT: You’re finishing up a tour and you have these new projects that you’re working on. Is there anything else that you’re looking forward to this year?
DYSN: Not anything for certain. Possibly more shows in the fall to start playing the new project and everything, but that’s a maybe of course.