Musician and producer releases his new collection of catchy songs that take him further down the road.
Dylan Roberts is on the road to his day job when he answers his phone.
Back to reality.
It’s a much different road then the one he was on the previous day.
He’d been invited to perform as his hip-pop persona King Dylan if front of 3,500 or so youngsters for the Mighty Peace Day, which is Grande Prairie’s answer to We Day.
It’s not the first time he’s played to an audience of thousands of screaming youth and he finds that it suits him.
“They’re a bit more receptive in a sense. It might not last as long but at that moment, they think you’re a,” he laughs, “a superstar basically.”
So it’s not about empowering them, it’s about feeding his own royal ego?
“Oh, yeah.” He laughs again. “That’s the idea of most musicians, right? They need the crowd to give them something back so then they feel good.
“Maybe not so much ego, just, ‘Hey I’m actually doing something that matters to someone.”
Well, it will be a much older audience in attendance at SAIT’s The Gateway Saturday night when he ditches reality once more to release his 12-track offering Die Tomorrow.
It’s his first proper solo outing in four years, although he released an acoustic EP in 2016 called Raw, and three years ago released an album with his band the DC Show titled Drinkognito.
The self-produced Die Tomorrow was conceived and constructed almost entirely in his bedroom studio, with guests including the other members of the DC Show and White Chocolate Thunder.
And it’s a wonderful collection of smooth, sometimes celebratory, sometimes silly, sometimes charmingly stoopid songs that walk that line between mainstream pop and hip-hop, with Roberts sing-styling and daring you not to follow along.
“I always found that I did enjoy the more upbeat part of hip-hop,” he says, noting that yes he also does enjoy some of the darker stuff in the old-school gangsta rap genre.
“I have no problem singing along to popular video songs as well. It’s just the way that I grew up. I mean, I grew up listening to Weird Al and he was making fun of everything popular. So when he started doing Eminem and Coolio parodies, that was my jam.”
Again, you’d be hard pressed not to find King Dylan’s new stable of songs yours as well, particularly the fun and unabashedly catchy punch in the sunshine that is the album’s opening track and first single Untouchable.
It’s already garnered him some attention thanks to how infectiously upbeat it is, as well as a superb video that accompanies it, inspired by DC Show mate Graham Furber commenting upon first hearing it that, “This song needs to be in Pixar movies.”
Instead, Roberts gave it the Everything is Awesome treatment with Lego stop-action.
It’s fantastic. And not surprisingly it earned him a nomination for Video Director of the Year at this year’s Western Canadian Music Awards.
And if that’s the perfect note to open Die Tomorrow on, he thinks he also picked the perfect one to close the album on — the track The Highway.
It’s perhaps the record’s most serious song, one that leads to the title of the album, one that has King Dylan and, naturally, Dylan Roberts questioning whether or not he wants to ever stop driving that road to something that matters to someone more than him.
“It’s about travelling the long road … you’re trying get to somewhere, but if you have doubts along the way, you’re going to take longer,” he says. “It’s about continuing on.
“I’m not going to give up today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today. It’s the idea of that song and the album in general.”
King Dylan releases his new album Saturday night at SAIT’s The Gateway.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.ca, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He likes beer. Buy him one.