Listening to Noah Dylan’s debut studio album ‘Kill the Dove’, you get a true sense of who he is: a hopeless romantic, a loving optimist, a rough-and-ready troubadour and an aspiring rockstar. But the Fremantle singer-songwriter will also readily tell you what’s not: on lead single ‘Nothing Matters’, he admits: “I’m not good at love songsSo what kind of songs is Dylan good at?
“I think I’m able to tap into a strange state of consciousness,” Dylan replies, after pausing to consider the question. “I play the guitar and then the lyrics come out of me. I think I’m strangely good at telling a really honest, authentic story about feelings without really trying to analyze too much. The most special part of writing and music is the ability to write about something that’s very important to me, Because it literally came from my mind. I didn’t try to tamper with it or anything like that.”
This unfiltered approach may explain why ‘Kill the Dove’ is so versatile and genre-defying. Dylan’s approach to songwriting meant that a plucked nylon-string acoustic guitar and a squealing, speaker-photo distortion pedal could exist in the same body of work—and sometimes even the same song. “When I started writing songs, I didn’t know what I was doing a lot of the time,” Dylan admits.
“I just learned a lot of what you hear on the album. Dynamics is a big part of it—to me, it’s like its own instrument. It’s such an interesting way to contrast light and dark with quiet moments with really loud and noisy stuff. With my music, I I try to explore the extremes of emotion – you see the light side, but also see the dark side of what it means to be here.”
“I think I’m strangely good at telling a really honest, authentic story about emotions, without really trying to analyze them too much.”
Following the release of his second EP, 2021’s ‘Don’t Change for the World (Like It’s Changing Me)’, Dylan and his longtime backing band went into the studio over the New-Year period, concluding in mid-January 2022. Although it’s his name on the famous marquee, Dylan is quick to emphasize his bandmates’ contributions to ‘Kill The Dove’. “They’re amazing at doing what I envision, but making it better,” he says.
“Everyone has their own artistic flair, and I can sense their creative style as much as I can sense mine. Clancy [Davidson], specifically – she plays the violin and sings backing vocals, and she’s probably the most accomplished musician I know. His parts really made a huge difference to the sound of the album. “
Dylan also points to Andy Lawson, the veteran producer behind the boards for numerous notable Perth bands including Eskimo Joe and Little Birdie – Dylan himself grew up listening to. Working out of Lawson’s studio, Dylan says, was a big influence on the album’s creation.
“He’s been a real role model for me, and we get along really well,” Dylan says. “I think we’re more in sync when we’re in the studio together – we make each other feel really comfortable, which helps a lot. The studio itself is beautiful too – you’re in the hills of Perth, looking at all this greenery and surrounded by chickens. It’s always a good time. Yes.”
Although ‘Kill the Dove’ was made by this tight-knit group, Dylan’s cast of collaborators still expanded internationally on the album. Its second single, ‘Broken But It’s Working’, is a duet with Sarah Tudzin – better known by her project’s moniker, Illuminati Hotties. Tudzin, who also co-wrote the song, was a dream collaborator for Dylan—a dream, it turned out, his label Due Process was able to make come true. “I told them how much I loved Sarah’s music, and they had a relationship with her manager,” he explains.
“We had a Zoom call, and we wrote ‘Broken But It’s Working’ in about two hours. It’s the easiest songwriting I’ve ever done – it felt so natural. I didn’t think much more about it after that, but when it came to choosing songs for the album Then I wanted to take another Hail-Mary shot and ask if she wanted to sing on it. To have someone I’ve looked up to for a long time like this on the album… that’s something I really value.”
Having steadily built a profile in the late 2010s and 2020s, Dylan has worked his way into a prominent position in Western Australia’s current music scene. It’s a scene that’s often legendary, as seen in a 2008 documentary Something in the waterAnd one that has proven its resilience time and time again.
Case in point for Dylan: When the opening night of his album tour was put in jeopardy after a situation at local venue Frio.Social last week, a new last-minute show came up within 24 hours at a nearby Port Beach brewery. This illustrates a great truth within the WA scene: if you want something, and you want it bad enough, it’s never impossible.
“This is a community that’s really passionate about music,” Dylan says. “It’s filtered through the generations. It’s really hard work when so much of the industry is in the East, and it’s expensive to get there yourself. What’s been created, though, is this real playground for creativity within the Perth scene. It’s not like this. That a bigwig is coming to your gig and ‘discovering’ you, so you can really push yourself and see what sticks. When a band succeeds in this community, everybody does. It’s pretty special.”
‘Kill The Dove’ is an album that asks a lot of questions. It is curious, adventurous, ambitious and constantly cute. “I hope people feel connected when they hear it,” Dylan says. “Whatever evil is going on in their lives, I hope it makes them feel like they’re not alone in the battle.” It’s an admirable mission for an album with a, at first glance, somewhat daunting title: What’s the story behind the phrase “kill the pigeons”?
The title sounds “dark”, he admits, but it’s “about playing on toxic positivity”.
“When I thought about the album, it was all about finding peace,” says Dylan, “whether it’s within myself or in my friends, my family and my community. Pushing away the idea that things like peace and happiness just happen in your life. That’s what this album is about. It’s about accepting that life is going to be hard, and it’s going to be a roller coaster. Peace doesn’t look like a life without ups and downs — it looks like what you get from your community, your hobbies, whatever.”
Noah Dylan’s ‘Kill The Dove’ is out now via Due Process