Interview with Dallin Applebaum
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I've been playing music since I was a baby, so it's hard to say. When I was in 4th grade I thought I would be a scientist. Though Biology and Astrophysics and technology are super inter
esting to me, I'm an artist. I'm not nearly organized or patient enough. I would have made a lousy scientist.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I am a licensed skydiver. I mountain bike, practice Muay
Thai, yoga, and run around with my puppy. Learning various disciplines, especially life threatening ones, are fascinating (and FUN). You have to practice, you have to pay attention, you have to be diligent, or else you or yourself could be seriously injured. From a distance, it might seem like it's the opposite of a creative practice like writing music. But I feel like a "flow state", or that place of true and pure creativity is so much more accessible when the other parts of my brain (and body) are pushed to their extreme. It's all about that left brain/ right brain balance.
How long has music been your career?
It's been my only career. I started teaching music when I was 14, performing when I was 16, touring when I was 21.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I lived in NYC from 2004-2020. My upcoming album, Grey Matters, has a lot of songs about different situations in New York. It's a really tough place to live, but it sucks you in and then it feels impossible to leave. Like, sure I could have a 2000sq foot HOUSE vs the 200sq foot apartment for the same price, but where else can you get a Coconut La Croix and a sandwich at 2am on a Tuesday?
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
BEST: my band SKYES played Mercury lounge. We had an awesome show - it was packed and there was just such great energy. When I got off stage, my manager at the time said, "do you see who's in the audience?" I didn't see, I just looked where he was pointing to see a tall silver haired man leaving. It was David Byrne. We didn't get to say hi, but apparently he came with a friend. He told his friend (who later told me) he didn't understand why we weren't playing bigger venues. That was it for me. I felt like I could have died right then and there and been happy.
WORST: We booked a small tour (with SKYES) and were trading shows with
some local bands. In Baltimore, the band told us we were playing a venue called Juanitas. When we got there, it was in the back of a Mexicanrestaurant. There was no stage, they just moved some tables and set up a horrible PA. It smelled like old beans. Our music wasn't really meant for restaurants. It was super dark, and VERY loud.
Though, to our surprise, the audience was really fun. They danced and wanted CDs.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I've played a lot of amazing venues with artists I used to tour with. But for my solo stuff I love smaller intimate venues with a beautiful grand piano. Places like Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. My music doesn't really do well as "background music" so anywhere that has a loud bar crowd doesn't serve me well. That being said, if I had the following, the Ryman would be awesome to play again.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Oh geez. I think this lineup would have to be in some after life...most of these folks have died. Warren Zevon. Leonard Cohen. Nina Simone. Jeff Buckley. Fiona Apple. Regina Spektor. Tom Waits.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Enjoy the process. It doesn't matter how talented you are, this business is one of the most unpredictable ones out there. So enjoy what you do, because its a HARD career and it's not worth it if you don't love the little things every day.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Oh, this is almost impossible to answer. It changes hour to hour. Right now it's the title track off of my upcoming album, Grey Matters. It's long, emotional and epic, and pretty impossible to play live.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I love playing "Lover for the Winter" because people can't tell if it's the funniest song they've heard or the saddest. I love playing "The Only One" because it's a complicated and fun piano part. Both of those get requested a lot.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
Every song is pretty different. Usually I'll spend some time sitting at the piano in a sort of flow state, come up with an idea, then spend hours or days hashing out the lyrics. The melodies and piano/instrumentation usually come within seconds, the lyrics take days.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Honesty, dark humor, good stories
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Hmm. I certainly disagree with collaborators sometimes, but rarely will it come to a disagreement, if that makes sense. I'm a teacher, so I'm exceedingly patient, and have learned (with MUCH practice) how to communicate my ideas without getting frustrated. That being said, when I don't agree with a collaborator, I will usually write my frustration out, then go through several versions before I hit "send" . I want to make sure the other person feels heard before I lay out my thoughts.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Hopefully lots of shows in the Nashville area! TBD! I'll be releasing my first single from the record on Sept 15th. It's called Des Res, (a real estate slang for "Desirable Residence") It's either about a hermit crab who can't find a good enough shell, or trying to find an apartment in NYC.
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