Music & clubs

A chat with… Dillon

The former German YouTube sensation returns: delayed by struggle, Dillon's sophomore effort "The Unknown" was released at the end of March. She’ll be bringing abrupt clarity to Heimathafen Neukölln on Thu, Apr 3.

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Photo by Veronica Jonsson

Brazilian-born, Berlin-based Dominique Dillon de Byington aka the electronic-tinged singer-songwriter Dillon became a German YouTube sensation as a teenager, releasing her theatrically intimate debut This Silence Kills (Bpitch Control) in 2011. Delayed by struggle, sophomore effort The Unknown (Bpitch Control) was released at the end of March. She’ll be bringing abrupt clarity to Heimathafen Neukölln on Thursday, April 3.

So, does Silence Kill?

I always thought that This Silence Kills was silent, but it seems very crowded and loud compared to The Unknown. And it’s less playful, even though it wasn’t a conscious decision to abort that part.

You’ve altered your process.

I don’t really have one. I mean, it’s strange ‘cause it’s only the second time I’ve done this. It’s not like I have a technique and This-Is-How-I-Usually-Work. I did This Silence Kills and then I never worked on music again apart from one song by Telefon Tel Aviv. I’m not a practising musician in that sense and when I started working on The Unknown it was the exact opposite of This Silence Kills: 10 out of 12 songs were not just written but I had been playing them for years. Whereas with The Unknown, I had nothing. I had been trying to write for two years and I couldn’t write anything.

That doesn’t sound good.

I just didn’t want to write a heavy, depressing record, so I thought that if I could just leave that part of me aside and go out and live life and experience different things, visit different places and meet new people, that that would inspire me. I was very wrong because it just didn’t work out.

Oh, no.

I travelled. And tried to do things I’m not even interested in, like going out at night, just to see if something would stick around and drive me to write. It didn’t. Every time I would return back home or wake up the next day, not even remembering who I was with or where we went because it was of no importance whatsoever. So finally, I just had to accept defeat and just turn into myself and go where I didn’t want to go. I had one and a half poems and a melody and that’s how we went into the studio.

So you did change your process.

If you ask me how I write music – I have no idea. The words first? The music first? I used to write all the time and could find inspiration in a toothbrush, in a walk or in the sky or anywhere. But this time I couldn’t even start.

But you did.

I would wake up every morning at 4:30 and either write or think. Sometimes I was able to write a whole poem and sometimes I was just able to start writing it – really just write three or four words. You’re kind of in limbo – I mean, you don’t wake up at that time unless you’re really excited about going on a vacation or something. I felt very vulnerable and also a little numb because I was so tired, so I was able to go into myself less scared. How I was able to work before was that something would trigger a thought and then I could relate it to myself, which always made it easier. But this time, I had to access the feeling right away. So I did that for six months. I realised that I wanted to keep it as abstract as possible. I have no idea how it’s gonna be the next time. I don’t think it’s gonna be that fucked up to get there. ‘Cause this time was really exhausting.

DILLON Thu, April 3, 21:00 | Heimathafen Neukölln, Karl- Marx-Str. 141, Neukölln, U-Bhf Karl-Marx-Str.

Originally published in issue #126, April 2014.