Dylan LeBlanc


Written by Johny Chhetri
Photos and illustrations by Amanda Chapman
27 Monday 27th September 2010
Dylan LeBlanc could well qualify as America’s most polite musician, but there’s no official rating scale for such a rare quality in the world of music today so we’ll have to sleep on that. Looking into his face one could see a childlike innocence and kind-heartedness that you wouldn’t sense in most young adults, especially for where we were situated (a very busy and trendy Shoreditch bar). I’m not sure if it was his aura, innocent eyes or calming voice, but the room felt like it stood still for a minute whilst we had a chat. Maybe I’ve turned gay for him, I probably have...
LeBlanc’s music is isn’t too shabby either, he released debut album, The Paupers Field on Rough Trade Records, played alongside modern day folk heroes like Laura Marling and has worked with the legendary Emmylou Harris. So it’s safe to say he’s got a credible folk CV already.
We sat down with the Louisiana native in said bar a fortnight ago to have a nice chat with a nice man.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. I’d say it wasn’t boring but the only thing to do there was play music, so that helped me focus on playing it properly. I started playing when I was about 11 years old.
And how old are you now?
You look very mature for your age! Apparently Emmylou Harris is featured on your album, please tell me this is true.
No, it’s not... (laughs) It is! It’s true man. She has such a beautiful voice.
Do you reckon she saw a bit of Gram Parsons in you?
I don’t think so, I really don’t. Nobody really talks about Gram, I don’t wanna because I feel like it’s a private thing.
Very well put... Is it true that you have never been on an elevator or airplane since a few months ago?
I’ve been in an elevator before but I hadn’t been on an airplane until I did shows in New York City. That was frightening for me, but after that we flew all the way to London and that was a piece of cake. I got really anxious though because I’m a really anxious person anyway, but I’m doing pretty well in terms of that. So I don’t wanna jinx it.
I don’t want to sound weird, but Emma Hartley is a beautiful folk track.
Thanks, I had written new songs and I had a lot of time to myself to think about what I want to do and about what I was writing. It was a rough period at the time, I was having problems. I’d probably stray away from the subject. People tend to get caught up in that ad not the music.
Could you give us a brief outline of the music-making process?
Of course. All your basic tracks are live and most of the vocals are live except for If The Creek Don’t Rise and No Kind Of Forgiveness which I re-sang. Those were the only vocals that weren’t live in the studio and it turned out really well, we didn’t really have a plan we just sat down in the studio and worked it out. We’d play a song three or four times and every time we thought we’d get a really good take we’d find a really awful mistake but we’d be like, “Yeah we like that.” It was a pretty simple process.
Would you agree that you’re quite young for someone to be involved with music of such high calibre?
I would disagree with that. There are a lot of young artists out there that are involved with music and are probably better at it than I am. I saw Laura Marling and played with her in San Francisco, it was a wonderful show, and she’s such a great songwriter.
She’s from London too, how does it compare to where you grew up?
London’s much more beautiful, wonderful and old. I mean, I grew up in the country and there’s nothing there but this place has a certain vibe here, I feel like a kid on Halloween getting some candy, which is something I haven’t felt in a really long time. There’s a certain childlike innocence in this place that I’ve been searching for a long time, so when I came here it was refreshing. All the band members really love it here too.
I’m sure loads of people have asked, but who do your influences range from?
Yeah, a lot of people have asked that, I have so many influences. I don’t like it when people call me the next Neil Young, just because there’s only one Neil Young and everyone has their own thing. No one is the same, I believe that everyone has a unique quality to them, some people choose to hide it and some don’t.
Even tribute bands?
Except for tribute bands! Tributes don’t count.
Who would you advise people not to listen to?
I wouldn’t advise people not to listen to anything, if that’s what they want to listen to and that’s what they believe in listening to...
What about Horrorcore?
That’s their bread and butter man; it’s all about what makes you happy. Music is about escaping everyday life, it’s like a drug. It’s all about their frame of mind.
Future plans?
Go home, get ready for another tour, start a new record hopefully.
Anyone you’d like to work with on the new record?
Ethan Johns would be good to work with. He’s a really good producer. I produced the last album, well no one really produces an album by themselves, you have all your friends and you do everything together but you steer the direction that you want it to go, everybody had such good ideas.
You’re releasing your stuff here with Rough Trade; you must enjoy working with them?
They’re starting to get a lot bigger in America, they just signed a whole bunch of really great bands – I probably won’t be much help now! A lot of their bands are doing really well in the US with bands like Warpaint and The Morning Benders.
I could see you, The Morning Benders and Warpaint on a gigantic Rough Trade USA tour. Have you got a message for the dwindling youths of today’s world?
Not really... I’d just say, stay true to yourselves as people will try to say things about you. Don’t read reviews either, do what you do and believe in it no matter what. Make sure everything comes from the heart and don’t change for anyone, no matter who it is, unless it’s something that you know you need to change about yourself but not anything that someone else thinks you need to change. Take advice wisely, make sure you hold the right advice, let the bad advice go through one ear and out of the other.

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  • Guest: thefoxcult
    Wed 29 - Sep - 2010, 05:34
    My morning jacket comes to mind, but that's just one assholes opinion.