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Dylan Joel

Throughout his hip hop career, Dylan Joel has followed a refreshingly metered approach – and he’s all the better for it. After years of steadily releasing EPs and singles while paying his dues on the live circuit, Joel has finally unleashed his highly anticipated debut album, Authentic Lemonade. It’s a festival ready mix of hip hop, soul and live instrumental sections, with Joel’s affable, yet extremely dexterous rapping taking centre stage. Following an organic lead up as Joel refined his sound, Authentic Lemonade arrives as a cohesive representation of Joel’s artistry. 

"I just thought about it from the perspective of trying to make my career sustainable,” says Joel. “If I make music for other people – completely for other people, and try to please people by making music – [if] that’s how I’m going to approach it, then I’m probably going to burn out really quick. I’d probably last maybe a year or two longer before it starts to become too much.”
 
For Joel, staying true to himself and refusing to compromise for the sake of pleasing anyone else was intrinsic to a sustainable career. “The only way for me to continue to do this, and continue to make music that I’m inspired by, is just to be completely myself and write about the stuff that I want to write about, and make music that I want to make,” he says. “I spent a lot of time trying to keep myself in check to make sure what I was creating was me and was genuine. I’d say this album is a pretty strong reflection of who I am.”
 
Joel has long been an adept beat maker, allowing him to actualise his ideas into music. However, the new album sees him team up with ARIA award winning producer Cam Bluff (Hilltop Hoods, Illy, Allday). With Joel in the co-producer’s seat, the two immediately discovered a creative spark, going on to craft multiple tracks in their first session together – all of which would later end up on Authentic Lemonade.
 
“We hit it off real quick,” laughs Joel. “I’ve got heaps of ideas and I’ve got heaps of vision for where the beats and instrumentals should go, but I can’t engineer it all. Cam and I had the same sort of vision for how we wanted this album to go, and how we wanted it to sound just from spending time together and working out what beats we like. It worked so well.”
 
Listening to Joel’s music, it’s clear he draws from a broad palette of inspiration. Traces of gospel line the airtight production of Always Fresh, while Swing sounds like a Duke Ellington remix, flipped on its head as a vehicle for the rapper to unleash a flurry of rhyming triplets. If it sounds unconventional, that’s because it is. Joel draws ideas from “everywhere outside of hip hop”, before filtering them back through the world of rap.
 
“I listen to hip hop heaps, but when I want a strong idea for a new track I’ll listen to a lot of other genres and take a lot of inspiration from there,” he says. “There’s generally not like a, ‘Hey I want to make some beats that sounds like this band’. It’s more like you pick little elements in different songs and you’re like, ‘I really like what they’ve done here. Maybe we could use that idea to help create something, or make a foundation for it’.”
 
Right from the early days, Joel has created music with hopes of bringing about positive change. He’s raised thousands of dollars for causes close to his heart, and a commitment to altruism is one of the most endearing aspects of his musical identity.
 
“I can use music to give to others. It’s kind of pointless trying to make music solely for yourself and for your own credit and affirmation. I try and make stuff that affirms others, and I make the music that I love making. Through doing it for myself, it gives to others. I think that’s where it is, man.”
 
BY JAMES DI FABRIZIO   

DYLAN JOEL is playing at NYE on the Hill, Loch Village from Wednesday December 30 till Friday January 1. He’s also performing at Wrangler Studios on Saturday January 16 with E^st, UV Boi and Kilter. Authentic Lemonade is available now via Warner Music.