Almost anything can be a metaphor for songwriting. Prying open a jar of pickles? Yes. Playing Russian Roulette? Sure. Tending to a plant. Why not? If writing songs is inseparable from life itself, then it must fall somewhere between meditating and giving birth, at the equator of zen and utter pain; the middle path between the sacred and mundane.
I can always pinpoint the moment when an art form grabs me. Whether it has been music, film, or literature, I have always had that clear, definitive moment that made me fall in love. My love for each of these art forms came together when I created Bleakhaus.
Kelebek Evrimi at Menada, Skopje – Macedonia; from left to right: Monti Karus, Dejan Spasovic (guest), Katerina Dimistrovska and Umur Sadico
What happens when three traveling street musicians from different backgrounds come together into a single path for a brief snapshot of time? You get the culturally rich sound garden of the Kelebek Evrimi project.
When I was sixteen years old, I wrote and recorded a song called Infection. Eleven years later, it’s become completely cringe-worthy for me to listen to, but that song lead me to some of the most profound realizations I’ve had in my music career so far. The lyrics of Infection were about unrequited love, the negative feelings that come along with it, and the ability of those feelings to spread into other aspects of life.
At that time, I was extremely self-conscious about my voice, and my good friend Ravi Adams would sing on the actual recordings of my songs. Ravi was able to capture the things that my voice was not yet capable of, and for the first time in my life, I experienced the joy of having a completed musical project that I was proud to share with the world.
I continued striving to write better and better music, but one day Ravi stopped me in the middle of recording and told me “Dillon, you write awesome songs, but everything is sad and slow. Imagine what you could do if you changed things up and wrote a happy, more upbeat, song.”
October Books, the well-loved independent bookshop in Southampton, UK where I work was facing a rent increase and an uncertain future towards the end of 2017. What to do? My colleagues and I started to look at alternative premises in the local area and the city center in early 2018. We first viewed the former chemist next door, which had a smaller retail space and a lower rent, so we registered our interest. But it was not to be – someone else got in before us.
Everyone has a story. Complicated, joyful, challenging, and beautiful. This is mine.
I am an independent artist living and creating music, films, and installations in Los Angeles. Born in Russia and emigrated to the United States seven years ago at the peak of my career as a journalist, I dropped everything and started my life from scratch. Some people may say I waited too long, but I say the magic happened when I was ready and the time was right.
When I play a song for you, I want to create an experience that sticks with you. I want to take you to a place in your mind where you feel accepted and understood in a unique way that you haven’t before. That’s what music does. It understands us. I think everyone needs a chance to feel understood.
It’s lost and heavy-hearted that I decided to settle down on my own in south Portugal in November 2017. After three years of travels around the world and a summer back to my hometown realizing time was flying and driving my dreams away from me, it appeared to be the perfect deal for a start over – as the one place I would most likely call home.
Back in the late ’80s, my parents started up a rainforest conservation project in Cameroon. They had their adventures getting there, having driven the whole way with all their gear in a Landrover. They almost got lost in the Sahara desert and crossed Chad, which at the time was in the midst of a civil war.
Their project was based in a remote village called Oku, in the north-west province of Cameroon. It revolved around working with local people to protect a remaining island of rainforest on Mt Oku, home of the Oku tribe.