A deepdive with DYLYN: Discussing inspiration,The Sixty90s and the future


Clay Preusch/The Observer

Alt-rock band DYLYN takes over Cleveland’s Grog Shop with their ’60s and ’90s inspired music.

Joey Gonzalez, Life Editor

On Oct. 12, Canadian alt-rock band DYLYN performed at Cleveland’s Grog Shop, along with their tourmates, the Rare Americans. Their first full-length album, “The Sixty90s,” a fusion of ‘60s music with the heavier tones in ‘90s rock, released on Friday, Oct. 28, and is a beautiful ode to the band’s inspirations. In preparation for their performance and the release of the album, The Observer was invited to interview lead-singer Gwen to talk about the band’s journey, their music and experiences as artists.

Admittedly, before being asked to conduct the interview, I had never heard of DYLYN or listened to any of their music. Now, however, I am a huge fan of their work, especially after sitting down and talking with them. The entire interview process was such a wonderful experience. Sitting down with Gwen, it felt like having a conversation with close friends. We discussed outfit inspiration and our favorite thrifts. Even when we covered heavier topics, she maintained a comforting light-heartedness throughout. 

Reflecting on living with her bandmates, Gwen said “Like we love each other, we’re a big family.” Being brought into their close-knit circle as friends made the entire experience so much better.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with DYLYN’s music, let me introduce you. Their style is truly unique in the music industry, combining the styles of different eras with the harder rock side of the ‘90s. Gwen describes the new album as having “a lot of heaviness to it. I’m pushing more like guitar tones… pulling from like [Black] Sabbath, Nine Inch Nails and a lot of ‘90s: Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins.” She was even wearing a Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt. A lot of their inspiration comes from the music that they listened to growing up, including a lot of Beach Boys and Beatles. Gwen likes to pull from the pop structure, saying “I love a good two and a half, three minute song. And that’s where I kind of lean on the Beatles.” DYLYN is able to pull from these different eras to create something that is truly revolutionary.

Their current musical identity was formed out of a former band and stylistic transition. When asked what inspired her transition, Gwen said “I think well, when I was first starting music, I was in a band. And if you listen back to those songs, it sounds like what I’m doing now. So I just, like, took a U-turn.” She continued by talking about the pressure of being a young artist, just trying to make everyone happy. “And yeah, it’s like, so hard to be, like, who are you? That’s such a hard question to ask yourself. Really. It seems easy, but it’s like, fuck, I have no idea. So, yeah, that really helped. Just being truthful with myself and I made that decision. And that scared me. And that’s when you know, you’re doing the right thing, you know?” 

She repeatedly described coming to terms with her identity as an artist, finding herself through her music and finding motivation to write music in the first place. For her, the Beach Boys teleported her to a safe place at a time when she was struggling in her life. She makes music “so that person can listen to it and teleport to their place that they need to go to.” The music isn’t about her, but instead the listener, and the moments that the audiences can listen back to and think of.  If one doesn’t become an instant fan just talking to Gwen, they’ll undoubtedly fall in love after listening to their music or watching them live, just as I did. 

After the interview, I had a chance to stay for the concert, and it did not disappoint. DYLYN played a ton of their recognizable songs like “Skin and Bones,” “Liberate Me” and “Make it Naked,” which were all incredible to listen to live. Gwen’s stage presence was truly something to experience, as she was practically gliding across the stage in a punk rock manner. Her makeup only further emulated that style, with rhinestones seemingly crying from one of her eyes. Everyone in the crowd was up and moving, rocking their head back and forth with the lyrics. And DYLYN didn’t limit themselves to their own music either, paying homage to their inspirations by performing songs from Nirvana and Wheatus. For their set, it was truly their stage and the entire venue could feel it.

I asked about their plans after this tour was completed, seeing if there was potential for a world tour in the future. “Maybe not a world tour,” she said, “but my plan next year is to tour as much as I can.” For her, touring is something of a tradition in the rock genre, a kind of old school methodology for reaching an audience. Gwen talked about going out and working the merchandise table, where she gets to actually have deep meaningful conversations with people. Her conversations with fans aren’t necessarily about spreading their message, but just being willing to talk and listen, “because that’s how you really make friends. And fans, you know?”

Before I said goodbye to my new top Spotify artist, I asked one final question for the Case Western Reserve University audience: do you have any advice for college students? Without missing a beat, Gwen said to follow that little voice in our heads and if you’re a little bit scared, you’re good. In college “you do what your friends do. You do a little bit of what your family says to do. You do stuff for yourself, but ultimately, it’s like, what do you want?” Ultimately, we must be truthful with ourselves and find the things that make us happy; it’s never too late to find joy.

Overall, I had such a great time meeting DYLYN and getting to know them. They’ve made their way into almost all of my playlists, alongside much of the music I grew up listening to, really showing the power of their music. Their first album came out on Friday, Oct. 28, so if you like their music or this interview piqued your interest, give them a listen—you might just find out that alt-rock is your genre.