The first time I saw Dylan Andre perform was on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. For those of you who have never been to Venice Beach California, it’s important to note that Venice Beach is not a place where you actually notice anyone. The beach so full of performers and colorful characters that after a while your senses are so overwhelmed that you eventually learn to ignore everything as noise. Dylan wasn’t noise. His soulful, down-home vocals caught my attention immediately and unlike most Venice Beach performers he looked amazingly normal and not desperate for attention. He just wanted to perform his music.
At the time I didn’t approach him or even stop to compliment him. Instead I took note of his name and looked him up later that day. This guy was the real deal! I had just begun to write and do photography for a couple Los Angeles based magazines and needed a story. Dylan would be the perfect interview and LA story. Unfortunately for me, when I pitched the stories to my editors both magazines had recently decided to change their focus. One magazine virtually deciding to ignore anything in LA and the other opting to focus on more luxury and travel instead of people and culture. So, I decided to do this myself. I emailed Dylan through his website and eventually ended up chatting with him on the phone a couple times. However, by the time we connected he had already left LA and moved back home to Pennsylvania.
Dylan is an incredibly genuine and approachable guy. He’s definitely likable and someone you’d want to have as a friend. During our conversations, Dylan told me his story of moving LA to make music and build a career. He also spoke about his decision to leave Los Angeles. Unfortunately, as with so many talented young hopefuls who arrive in Los Angeles, he was disillusioned by flaky people promising the world but delivery nothing and fake, shallow individuals who may seem trustworthy at first but prove to be otherwise. It’s incredibly sad, but a common occurrence. What makes it even worse is that so many people leave Los Angeles with the misconception that those people represent LA.
They don’t. Unfortunately, a lot of that behavior is perpetrated by LA transplants and then blamed on us native Angelinos. But I digress…
After talking to Dylan a couple times, it became apparent that Dylan’s time in LA was full of highs like being on America’s Got Talent and selling out a trendy LA venue as his first show after building a strong following on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. But it also had its share of lows like watching people around him get tangled up in the show biz hype, partying and drugs. Overall, the experience was just one phase of his journey – as Dylan put it:
“It was an important experience for me to have. It shaped my music and made me more into myself. I know that sounds lame, but now I definitely know what I want and what I don’t want.”
After being home in PA and getting married, Dylan has continued his journey – finding his voice and his sound. He worked tirelessly to record his first EP and has recently made the big move to Nashville. Interestingly, along with his creative evolution Dylan’s appearance has also evolved. Similar to his music, his look is now a seamless and subtle mix of modern with classic and Folk infused with Hip-hop (in part thanks to his talented wife Laresa, who happens to be a hairstylist). The transformation was organic, but poignant.
“I’ve always just been an average guy when it comes to my look. I mean it would be really easy for me to blend in and for no one to notice me in a crowd. But one day I saw some guys wearing classic hats and vests and thought that I could do that. I wanted my sound to be reflected in my style. I wanted to do something that was original and fit me. So I added just a little of the classic style to my look and now have something that fits me.”
So often, big cities like Los Angeles, New York or Miami are thought of as the destination of a journey, but sometimes as in the case of Dylan Andre, we are reminded that Los Angeles isn’t always where the journey ends, but a layover before it continues.
Please show Dylan some love and take a listen to his new EP. If you really want to hear the transformation, listen to an early version of his single Save My Soul on YouTube (this is the song I heard him perform on Venice Beach) then listen to the version on his EP (both videos are below). It’s clear that Dylan’s music, appearance and outlook have all evolved, but are still just one more step in a long journey that I am personally glad to observe.
Save My Soul – Early Version
Save My Soul – EP Version