Dashiel is an indie experimental pop musician currently located in northeast Ohio. He studied the music industry and business (entertainment) at Loyola University in New Orleans. His newest single, a song about unrequited love and introspection titled “roll sum,” debuts today. Although I may be biased, having known Dashiel for half my life, his music overflows with sonic creativity and guts—and his new single bridges the experimental with a more mainstream pop sound in a truly refreshing approach. I hope you enjoy.
I thought to introduce your music to our readers because what you’re doing seems somewhat consistent with the music scene in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and with the Calvin community in particular. Phoebe Bridgers is someone who I hear in your music, especially thematically but even sonically. She also played at Calvin relatively recently. Why do you think your music might appeal to our readers?
I’ve always gravitated toward very “pop” chord and song structure. From a theory standpoint, I like simplicity, but then adding little nuances to make it not as bubblegum. [Phoebe Bridgers’s] music strikes me as out-of-the box pop.
Much like our blog, the post calvin, your song titles don’t use capital letters. What does this aesthetic choice communicate about you as an artist?
That’s a funny question, I like that. Oooh! That’s a Soundcloud aesthetic. There’s people who came from that scene who didn’t use capital letters, like Kaytranada, who was a Soundcloud dude and has now won Grammys. I just thought that aesthetic was cool. It’s kind of less serious, and I really like that. When I was first trying to be serious about making music, I was annoyingly serious. Now I find solace in letting things go, letting things be silly and not perfect.
Would “playful” describe your music?
I’ve never thought about it like that, but yeah. It’s loose. I freestyle a lot of my melodies. I’m just trying to capture feelings in the moment, which are fleeting things that you can’t hold onto for long. It’s also affected my songwriting. It’s hard to capture the essence of an emotion over a long duration since they’re fleeting, so I don’t try to do that anymore. The time I use to write is now condensed to better catch those emotions.
You have a rich background in classical music. How has this shaped the way you look at and listen to music?
Yeah, I had the privilege of growing up in L.A. and going to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I felt dragged there by my mom. But it’s definitely formative.
There’s an underlying simplicity in a lot of classical music. Same with Phoebe Bridgers, like you mentioned earlier. Using simple chord progressions to make something underlyingly simple but with little nuances that take it somewhere else…that’s something I think classical music gave me. Like the I-IV chord progression: it’s a staple of all pop music but it’s also a staple of classical. The layering of classical music is also foundational for me. Just adding different things on top of each other with digital equipment.
I know Calvin is in Michigan, and even though it’s on the other side of the state, doo-wop music and especially the stuff from Motown has always been influential to me. I love the saccharine pop. There’s something very beautiful about those records: the four-chord progressions, thick harmonies, thick stacks of vocals. I love it.
Can you tell me about the songwriting process for your new single, “roll sum”?
[Laughing] I wrote it in a Zoom class right after we switched to online class. But to be honest, everything I’ve made before is pretty much from scratch. In this song, the main guitar in the single is a spice loop, [which means] it comes from a sample, royalty-free library for people to make songs. This was totally new territory for me.
What’s next and where can our readers find your work?
I’m on all the major streaming platforms as “Dashiel,” my first name. What’s next? I’m trying to release one single every month for the rest of 2021. And in early 2022, I have something that’s not hyperpop but inspired by that community, which has a lot of queer and trans artists that are doing cool things. After that, I have a more acoustic, singer-songwriter type project.
One more thing. Can I tell people to get vaccinated?
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity and length.