Americana Artist Dylan LeBlanc to Perform at Basement East

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Photo Credit: Abraham Rowe

Dylan LeBlanc, a seasoned contributor to Americana, brought a new paragon of artistry to our ears with his fifth full-length release, Coyote. This was highly anticipated, a four-year-long wait following his senior album Renegade, and it did not disappoint. The bar has been raised, high, in the wake of the intricate writing, piercing instrumentals, and ever-inviting vocals LeBlanc showcases on Coyote. 

Luckily for the residents of middle Tennessee, you can experience the musical excellence described at Dylan LeBlanc’s upcoming show at The Basement East on April 23. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.ticketweb.com/event/dylan-leblanc-w-airpark-the-basement-east-tickets/13731898?pl=basement&REFID=clientsitewp 

While in Norway, Dylan was able to shed some light on his creative process and direction for his current and upcoming music. 

October 20th, 2023 brought us your latest full-length album, Coyote. This comes about 4 years after your senior album, Renegade. Were you curating that album for the entirety of that time? What did your creative process for Coyote look like?

I wrote a lot during the day while my daughter was at her daycare. Mostly just Monday through Friday, nine til about three in the afternoon. I booked ten days when I was finished completing my writing, in the studio. And then I worked pretty much all day and night for ten days on that record. 

This album seems both autobiographical as well as conceptual. What drove the inspiration for your title track, Coyote? And what drove the inspiration for the concept of the album? 

I just like the creature. They’re scavengers by nature and they’re kinda survivalists. They are kind of hated in mythos and in real life, if you look at native mythology and Mexican mythology they’re sort of seen as a bad omen. They’re kind of a pain in the ass for people, you know, but I like the animal. I like the way they sort of navigate survival and they run in packs so that was sort of the inspiration for the album. And, obviously, the entendre of drug mules across the border. I just wanted to tell a story, and I wanted to tell a story about mostly the themes of survival. 

Which came first, the single (Coyote) or the album title?  

I came up with the song first, and I just decided to make it the name of the album.

You have a few producer tags under your belt: Trina Shoemaker, John Paul White, and Dave Cobb, to note your albums’ credits. Your most recent full-length album, Coyote, credits you independently as the producer. What motivated you to curate this release independently, and do you personally notice any notable differences in the music released on this album vs. others? 

I just have always wanted to make a record where I was able to kind of stretch my legs and do what I wanted to do. I was offered a budget this time that sort of allowed me to do that. Creatively, producing is something I’ve always wanted to try to navigate and get into, so I worked really hard on the organization of the whole thing. Like anything, you have to have everything very organized, and time management is very important. So that aspect of it was very important to me. There was a lot of work that went into that, especially with the time that we were given. And so just the challenge of it all was really fun and being able to have the budget to hire really great musicians, and string players, stuff like that. And to be able to come up with the parts and write the parts but also let musicians sort of stretch their legs as well, so it’s a combination. I’m a firm believer in one of the main things about being a good producer, in what I’ve seen in other producers over the years, is just getting the right people in the room together. And when that happens everything sort of naturally falls into place. So I can’t really take too much credit because the players were so good. 

A star lineup is how I’d describe the session players appearing on Coyote. Fred Eltringham (Ringo Starr, Sheryl Crow), Jim “Moose” Brown (Bob Seger), and  Seth Kaufman (Lana Del Ray) lend their flair to the album. Did you curate that ensemble of session players yourself? Describe your time working with them. 

Yeah, I put them together. They’re all incredible musicians, and creatively they all bring so much energy into a room. Obviously, they’re incredible at what they do. And as far as time management goes, it’s really important to work with professionals in the studio, cause that’s just less time wasted. And so they were really quick and efficient but yet very talented and professional. Working with them was nothing but a pleasure, mainly because of that. And also it was just fun to be in the room recording with them and playing with them. They’re incredible, and also my father is an incredible session player, and he was on this record too. He helped a great deal in helping me organize the whole project. So, I gotta give him some credit as well. He’s a very well-renowned session player, but it was the first record that we did together that we worked that closely together. It was just amazing, really lovely. 

In terms of your fanbase, you have a wide audience internationally, especially in Europe. How do you manage such culturally different fan bases? Do you feel more in touch with your audience within the U.S., or outside of, and why? 

Well, they’re different in each country. German and Scandinavian audiences are a little bit quieter and so when you play they kind of like more forlorn music and more soft. So, I’ll curate a setlist when I’m playing those countries. The Netherlands are a little heavier; they like to rock. Sweden as well. It’s a good mix of both. I think a set that has a good balance of both is very important anywhere that I’m playing. In the US, it’s hard to keep people’s attention because art is sort of shoved down your throat in the United States. There’s just so much of it and it’s accessible to everyone. I think in Europe it’s more of a niche, what we do. And so, people come here expecting a certain thing. Your audience in Europe is more niche. There’s people in Europe that only listen to Americana and that type of music. Whereas in America, you can have an audience that listens to Americana, metal, country, rap, their tastes may be more eclectic because of the accessibility. And so, it’s just different in each country. I always try to maintain a show that’s gonna give them an experience and not just somebody staring at their feet. I try to make an experience for them, that they walk away thinking that they saw something special. I just curate the sets with a healthy balance of movement and emotions. 

Is the way you perform live similar to the way you record? What is added/taken away from live performances, and which representation do you enjoy more?

I love being in the studio probably more. Just because I have more control over what happens, and I’m a bit of a control freak in some ways. But I love playing live as well. When we play live, it depends on the record and it depends on the songs. Some songs we play exactly like the album. Some songs are more upbeat, and they lend a nature to extending playing out a little more. We will add some embellishments that make it more interesting for the audience live. But mostly, try to stick to a healthy balance of what it is on the record. We want to give people the experience of the album. Especially guitar solos and stuff like that. I try to play them exactly like the record. It bothers me when I go see a show and it’s so different live. I like it to be like the record. 

How long have you been with ATO Records? And what would your advice to a young musician pursuing label representation be? 

I’ve been with ATO for maybe five years. They’re a great label. They do what they say they’re gonna do. I think labels in general these days, what you’re really looking for, is resources if you come from a background like me. If you can do things on your own, I would recommend it to young artists. If there’s a way to attain an audience, if you have the means to do so by hiring your own publicist and doing what a label does without a label, you can maintain your ownership of your music. What you give up when you sign with a label is a lot of ownership, but you get back sort of a loan, like a bank, to put out the record, distribution, and making the actual album. I think it’s important to understand what a label is. They’re really just a loan company that you pay back through the sales of your album, and you don’t make any money until that happens. If you can find a way to do it more on your own, it’s better for you, but obviously, that’s not the situation for everybody and it certainly wasn’t the situation for me. A label was necessary in order to get my music out there. Knowing what you want, if you’re an artist that knows their direction and what they want their music to be and image to be, it’s important to find a label that you can take an opportunity to expand on that. 

Is your next album already under way? Do you aim for specific release timeframes, or write the songs as they come?

I’m trying to write one and get it out by late next year. And I’m trying to write in the next six, seven months or so. 

Is there anything we didn’t get to that’s on your mind? 

We’re playing at The Basement East on April 23. Be there. Or be square. 

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