Frontman and also solo artist? Dance Gavin Dance's Tilian Pearson is out here doing it all.
Tilian Pearson is most well known as the frontman of Dance Gavin Dance, but this year he's also broken out on his own. As a solo artist. And only months after the release of the latest album from Dance Gavin Dance!
We had a chat with Tilian to see what's going on, what's driven him to pursue a solo career alongside his career in Dance Gavin Dance, and what his creative process is like in the making of his solo album 'Skeptic'.
YOU’VE BEEN NON-STOP THIS YEAR. FIRST THE NEW DANCE GAVIN DANCE ALBUM, AND NOW YOUR SOLO RECORD. HOW YOU FEELING PACKING SO MUCH STUFF IN?
Says Tilian: "It’s good. I figured that Dance Gavin Dance has never reached this level of success before so may as well go all out while we are able to reach a lot of people. We’ve done Japan, Brazil, Europe, a super long US run and then we have the tour in the fall. I figured that with this solo record I was either going to release it now or at the beginning of next year. The thing is that the solo album has actually been done and ready to go for a year, so for me it’s not really that jam-packed creatively. For me it feels different. When you’re working on music a lot and when you’re writing a lot, it drains you in a different way. Touring seems to be a little easier now, mentally. Also everything that could have happened has happened, so touring isn’t as unpredictable."
TELL US A LITTLE BIT WHAT ‘THE SKEPTIC’ IS?
"I would say that the album art definitely helped to create the title. There was a reason why I was attracted to that imagery of the lone pilot exploring something in a fantastical place. Lyrically the subject matter, and in a lot of ways what ‘Artificial Selection’ is written about, is based around a big change I had in my life. Within my community I have always been a little more sceptical than 90% of the people around me. The things that I’ve been given I’ve always questioned them a bit more. I’ve had a lot of social relationships fall apart in the last few years just because of forsaking the way that I grew up. It’s cool to have a place to express my feelings completely and honestly. It’s a nice aesthetic way to do it."
TAKING ON THIS JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY ALONE, WHAT HAS IT TAUGHT YOU ABOUT YOURSELF THAT YOU DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW?
"I don’t know really. That’s a really good question. I’m not sure that doing music makes it any clearer on who I am or finding myself. It’s definitely a nice way to express myself. It certainly adds just as much danger. The person that I am in Dance Gavin Dance is a little wilder than my actual personality. Even performing with them I do things that are a little more ridiculous. I feel like everyone is that way in that band. We’re very different away from that."
SO DOES IT FEEL MUCH MORE OF A CLEAR CUT PATH WHEN YOU ARE PERFORMING ON YOUR OWN?
"I think it’s just a different project. I guess lyrically and musically everything is a lot more direct. It’s more honest and open. Plus, it’s cool playing these solo shows in bars. I hate when people use the word intimate because that just means small. Yet in the case of these, you can actually see everybody’s faces and you can play off everybody’s expressions. It’s nice to actually be really close and connect on that level. I can’t get away with anything though. It forces you to be more direct. Also the live band that I have is really good. I’m able to pull off these songs better than ever before because the people surrounding me are better at playing than I am."
YOU’VE HAD SUCH A PACKED CAREER. IS DOING MORE SOLO STUFF OF THIS ILK BEEN SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN ON YOUR MIND FOR A LONG WHILE?
"I feel like the solo stuff is just getting started. It’s something that feels really new and fresh even though it’s something that I’ve been working on since even before Dance Gavin Dance. I was actually recording stuff for the first solo record when Dance Gavin Dance called me and asked me to do the first tour. It’s just the beginning."
HOW DID YOU EVENTUALLY REACH THE OVERALL SOUND THAT YOU HAVE DEVELOPED ON ‘THE SKEPTIC’?
"It probably just comes down to being influenced by loads of different types of music, but more than anything this was the first solo album where I wasn’t really trying. I wasn’t saying ‘oh, that’s too this and that’s a bit too that’, I really didn’t care. So for example ‘Handsome Garbage’ is very much a post-hardcore song but with a little bit of 80’s dream pop influence. Then there’s ‘Drunken Conversations’ which is a complete pop track with literally no guitar on it. I tried not to put it all in a box. ‘Material Me’ had a definite sound and we didn’t really go too far out of that sound. Same thing with ‘Perfect Enemy’. With this one I just wanted to mess around with riffs and combine them with pop music. It was really new for me."
SO WHAT’S THE VISION FOR THE FUTURE? ARE YOU THINKING AHEAD OR JUST GOING WITH THE FLOW?
"I think that the next solo album will come after the next Dance Gavin Dance album again. I think that my personality and where I am will be completely different when that happens. Right now creatively I want to really swing for the fences on the next one and just do things bigger and better. Get more live instrumentation; add strings and horn sections and just do everything on a much larger scale. I just want to play with so many more elements. It’s encouraging to see growth."
AS A WHOLE, HOW MUCH DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO EXPRESS YOURSELF THROUGH A SOLO MONIKER AS MUCH AS YOU CAN IN DANCE GAVIN DANCE?
"I’m extremely grateful and lucky. I try to remember that very often. It’s interesting when you have conversations with people much older than you and they have different concepts of what ‘making it’ means. For me if I were to talk to me at 18 years old, I would not try and change the past at all. I’m just extremely happy with the point that I am at now and that I get to perform both in a band and on my own as a job and will be able to for a little while longer. Unless I really fuck something up. I just feel very fortunate."