5 Questions With: Dylan Gardner [SXSW Edition]

We’ve been fans of Dylan Gardner for over a year now and the talent this kid has is incredibly impressive. At only 18, Dylan is currently signed to Warner Bros. Records and will be taking over the world by storm; we don’t doubt it one bit. We spoke with Dylan about what got him into music, some performances he was able to catch at SXSW, and the struggles of being a young performer! Check out our interview with Dylan below!

We’ve been huge fans
since we first received your album last summer and were absolutely intrigued
with how passionate you are about music. What first gave you the push to begin
writing and playing music?
Thank you! Well, I’ve been performing
music since I was a non-lucid child! I started my musical journey as a drummer
wanting to be like my brother and as I grew up I was attracted to more melodic
instruments like guitar and piano. When I moved to Arizona in 2010, I just sat
down and wrote my first fully realized song in the first couple days I lived
there, for no reason. When the family heard the song through the door, they
encouraged me to keep writing. Ever since then I’ve been writing as many songs
as I can imagine!

Since South By Southwest is filled with tons of incredible acts, were you
excited to catch any artists in particular? Did you stumble across any new
artists that you are now a fan of?
Of course. This is my first time at
SXSW and just looking at the bills of the shows I’m playing on I wanted to see
the bands before and after me. I wanted to catch acts like Spoon, Win Butler,
the Zombies, the Residents etc. but on the road with my schedule unfortunately
there’s just no time. *sad face* Next time though!

Not only are you a singer, but you’re also a songwriter and
multi-instrumentalist AND you signed to Warner Bros. Records shortly after your
album was released independently. Everyone has a different way of defining how
and when they make it, whether it’s a radio single or playing sold-out shows.
How do you measure your success?
Success to me is when someone who
hasn’t heard the record has an opinion on it. But honestly I don’t try to
justify or measure any kind of success; I just hope people will hear the record
and come have a fun experience with me at the shows! Sometimes unsuccessful
bands have radio singles, and bands that play sold out shows don’t have a radio
single. I say save yourself the headache and instead worry about what kind of
string arrangements you want on your next record.

Being that you are only 18 and there are tons of venues that do have age
restrictions, have you ever had any issues with getting into one of your own
I have this issue all the time haha
I’ve also missed a shameful amount of legendary shows do to my age. I hate it.
I hate age restricted shows. No, I don’t want your stupid liquor I just want to
watch Grouplove burn down the Crescent Ballroom on stage, is that such a
problem? Even some shows on this tour have been 21+, so technically I’m not
allowed to be at my own show!

Though you released your album initially in May of 2014, it was released via
Warner Bros. Records in October of 2014. Are you currently working on a new
album? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
As a songwriter, I’m constantly thinking
about the future and the next album to the nth power. Yes, a second album is in
the works. I look forward to making the next record more than anything else in
my life. Growing up, I’ve always known of the responsibility that comes with
making your second record. People say you get your whole life to make your
first record. I say for me it’s the second.

50 Acts You Won’t Want To Miss At SXSW (Part 1)

It’s that time of year again and South By Southwest (SXSW) is just around the corner! We’ve decided to bring back our “50 Acts You Won’t Want To Miss” feature, which will run from today until March 16th, the day before the Music section of SXSW begins! Check out our first installment (acts 1-10, in no particular order) of artists we think you need to check out below!

*Note: some acts we’ve included are performing at South By So What?! and not South By South West. However, since the festival takes place during the week of South By Southwest, we’ve decided to still include them in our list!


Royal Teeth
After being a standout at the second Boston Calling festival, Royal Teeth have found continued commercial success over the last eighteen months or so. While they’ve been heard in a handful of ads or trailers, don’t mistake them for sellouts – it’s not their fault that their dual-vocalled brand of high-energy pop is unignorably catchy. Or, well, I suppose it is.
Where to catch Royal Teeth: 3.20 – 5pm – NoiseTrade Day Party @ Swan Dive; 3.21 – 5pm – BAM! The Future of Rock and Roll Vol 2 @ Peckerheads; 3.21 – 10PM – Official SXSW Showcase @ Buffalo Billiards; 3.22 – 4pm – South By Sendoff @ Stubb’s.

Following the success of their revival, coupled with a 5-year anniversary Illuminate tour, Lydia have been keeping busy. With performances booked at SXSW, Bled Fest, and a nationwide tour in support of The Early November, there are plenty of chances to catch these guys play. But why would you want to wait any longer than you have to?
Where to catch Lydia: 3.20 – South By So What?! @ QuikTrip Park.

While their first full-length is still eagerly awaited, what we’ve gotten thus far from COIN (a three-track EP that will dance you out of your shoes) leaves me very optimistic for its June release. I’m sure their set will be more than three songs, so I’m jealous of anyone who will get to hear what else this band has to offer.
Where to catch COIN: 3.18 – 8pm – Hype Machine @ Hype Hotel; 3.18 – 1am – Paradigm @ Maggie Mae’s Rooftop; 3.19 – 3:45pm – Most Definitely @ La Barbecue; 3.19 – 11pm – SONY @ Tap Room At The Market; 3.21 – 4:30pm – IFC @ Palm Park.

Night Riots
In support of their latest EP, Howl, a half-dozen songs packed with bright, moody electronic pop, this LA five-piece are preceding their summer on Warped Tour with a run at SXSW. If you miss your chance to catch them now, you’ll have another shot when Warped stops in your city, though their crowd is bound to be much bigger by the time that rolls through.
Where to catch Night Riots: 3.19 – 4:20pm – Big Picture Media Showcase @ The Bling Pig; 3.19 – 10pm – Official SXSW Showcase @ Buffalo Billiards; 3.20 – South By So What?! @ QuikTrip Park.

Dylan Gardner
This time last year, Dylan Gardner’s record landed in my inbox. And it didn’t take long for me to hear that there was something special about this 17-year-old kid’s self-written, self-recorded, self-produced debut album. And after jumping at the chance to sign such a great young talent, it seems it didn’t take Warner Bros. Records very long to realize it, either.
Where to catch Dylan Gardner: 3.20 – 8pm – Official SXSW Showcase @ Victorian Room at The Driskill; 3.22 – 7pm – House of Blues Cambridge Room.

One of the newer bands we’ve been introduced to, Denver’s Redlands blend together elements of country, pop, and old-fashioned rock & roll into a tightly-structured sound that could appeal to most music fans. Before their newest album hits shelves early this summer, this is a band you’ll want to get acquainted with.
Where to catch Redlands: 3.18 – 7pm – The Prophet Bar; 3.20 – South By So What?! @ QuikTrip Park.

The Maine
Since the announcement of American Candy (expected March 31st), The Maine have had their fanbase in a stir since word of their fifth album hit the internet. As a band that has progressed and matured with each album or tour, I’m always interested in whatever The Maine have lined up next.
Where to catch The Maine: 3.18 – 9:30pm – Official SXSW Showcase @ Emo’s; 3.20 – South By So What?! @ QuikTrip Park.

Whether it’s lead vocalist Mandy Lee’s soaring voice, the band’s catchy dance-pop sound, or any combination of these along with countless other factors, there’s a lot to be said for MisterWives. But whatever I could say about them wouldn’t do justice to what they’ll show you themselves.
Where to catch MisterWives: 3.19 – 6pm – The Spotify House; 3.21 – 7pm – House of Blues Dallas; 3.22 – 7pm – Fitzgerald’s.

To help celebrate 10 years of Chroma, one of the most solid pop/punk records of the era, Cartel are embarking on an anniversary tour later this Spring. But before they hit the road, they have their sights set on Austin, ready to make all of those high school emotions flood back.
Where to catch Cartel: 3.20 – South By So What?! @ QuikTrip Park.

MC Lars
The self-proclaimed master of lit-hop puts on a show that few can rival. Energetic, entertaining, and potentially educational, Lars shouldn’t be missed (if you’re hyphy enough to handle it).
Where to catch MC Lars: 3.17 – 10:25pm – Official SXSW Showcase @ Flamingo Cantina; 3.19 – The Bedlands.

Review:: Adventures In Real Time | Dylan Gardner


Young pop stars are a very diverse breed.

There are those who start young, who find their footing, who build and change and grow throughout the years. There are those who start off strong and fizzle away. There are those who become superstars, later trying to shed their bubblegum image for a more mature look, typically just turning into jerks (here’s looking at you, Justin).

Now, while I can’t speak for the “building and changing and growing” parts of that first example, I have a good feeling that 17-year-old Dylan Gardner will safely fall into that first category. On his self-written/performed/produced debut album, Gardner boasts a level of talent that reaches much further than the high school halls he roams.

Though I’m a little behind with getting this review done, I think that that was a happy accident. With the upbeat tempos and hooky choruses, I feel this album had a better impact on me at the start of July than it would have in mid-May.

Opening on the quick, sharp-witted “Let’s Get Started,” Gardner instantly digs in. Catchy and lyrically contradictory, it would stick in your head for days, if there weren’t nine tracks following it waiting to do the same.

There are a handful of highlights here, with “Too Afraid to Love You,” “Sing for the Stars,” and “Invincible” coming to mind, each one special in their own respects. But, if there is specific focus to be given anywhere, special attention deserves to be placed on the dark, acoustic performance given on “The Actor.” Unlike any of the other tracks in regards to its softness and serenity, Gardner’s songwriting and vocal range are at their bests here. The steady growth from a soft acoustic strum into a grand effort of stifled sounds and swirling violins is not only impressive but shows (for me, at least) what Gardner could grow into as an artist.

On Adventures in Real Time, Gardner does something special. His music feels established and refined, holding the ability to stand on its own without being eclipsed by his age. Though, bringing his youth into the conversation makes it all that much more notable. While it isn’t perfect, it leaves the door open for improvements and diversity, which is something that an artist of any age or medium will gladly take notice of.

Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Rating: 3.25/5
Runtime: ≈ 36 minutes

Star: “The Actor”

Track listing:
1. Let’s Get Started
2. Heroes Tonight
3. I’m Nothing Without You
4. Too Afraid To Love You
5. I Think I’m Falling For Something
6. The Actor
7. Sing For The Stars
8. Feeling Of Love
9. With A Kiss
10. Invincible

Written by Eric Riley