Kyle Dion and I “Painted Sounds,” and See What He Thinks Public Restroom Sex Looks Like…
When I first heard Kyle Dion’s undeniable falsetto, one that will send a girl back to those ’90’s boy-band-gawking days when Justin Timberlake fronted the group that gave us “Gone,” I was automatically intrigued. I was both intrigued to see if there was more hypnotic R&B sound where this came from, specifically his verse on Kehlani’s “How We Do Us,” as well as if there was an equally seductive exterior to match a voice like that. I was able to check the “Yes” box in both categories, and from then on I kept at least a couple of tracks from his first, yet unexpectedly mature, EP Sixes and Sevens on every single playlist. However, when Kyle found me sitting on the steps outside my friends studio where I would soon interview him, an odd informality was realized. Simply because he was instantly recognizable to me, this wasn’t necessarily the case for him when crossing my path for the first time.
Sitting on the steps with Kyle, pre-interview banter, and even a spontaneous reading of his astrological chart, it became one of the most natural things to my surprise. Getting to know him, even in this brief circumstance, made it seem so strange that a person so close to my age and still so young (we guessed each others ages, both came out inaccurate) had become a sort of celebrity, and had this following of equally yoked youthful people watching his next move at all times, whether it be dropping a single off his upcoming EP, Painting Sounds, or a heart-eye-emoji inducing selfie. I asked him, out of dumfounded curiosity, “Do people recognize you? Like when you’re walking down the street sometimes?”
He replied, “Yeah, more so now that I live in LA though,” and another strange informality came to light; Kyle had only lived in LA for two weeks, and he had already built a fan base and established a music platform all from his bedroom in Florida. Self-made. Nowadays, simply because you follow someone on Instagram and read their surface-level captions, you feel as if you know something about them or have some sort of insider information. However, until you’re suddenly sitting across from them on a couch IRL do you realize that this version of a person that you’ve created for your own sake is really only a small portion of this multifaceted artist. Kyle and I are both begrudgingly apart of what they call “Generation Selfie,” a cringe-worthy term, yet Kyle gives me hope that we can retitle ourselves as “Generation Self-Made,” even if it is thanks to the internet.
I’m just content with where I’m at and how I’m growing and the pace that I’m growing at.
Erika Flynn: So you’re new EP, coming out on “mystery date,” is called Painting Sounds. Where does the name come from and where’s the inspiration coming from?
Kyle Dion: Well Painting Sounds is basically a collection of a whole bunch of different sounds, when you hear the whole project. It’s a bunch of different instruments, a bunch of different vibes, something different on every song.
EF: Did you use a lot of live instruments or more just mixing?
KD: Not entirely, it definitely sounds like it though. I want to start getting into more live instrumentation, but this project was more so me branching out and doing different shit. Not that I was necessarily scared to do that on Sixes and Sevens but I’m more willing and daring and risky on this one. It’s all about experimentation on this project.
EF: You also said it’s much more upbeat than Sixes and Sevens, and you kind of get a vibe of that from Another Life.
KD: Yeah, “Another Life” is a great introduction but a lot of people are saying, like, “Oh you set the vibe for the tape,” and I’m just like no, cause it’s all so different. It’s Painting Sounds, so there’s going to be so many different vibes.
EF: Well, I get that cause that would be like saying that when Kendrick came out with “i” before To Pimp A Butterfly that that set the vibe for the album, but it absolutely did not.
KD: Exactly, that’s exactly what “Another Life” is, it’s just one aspect of the whole project. But if you think that you’re going to hear another “Another Life” on the tape, you won’t.
EF: On” Another Life” though, it opens up pretty bold, with like “Fuck ya girl, fuck you too, etc.” Of course when making those decisions as an artist, you’re like “hell yeah I wanna do this cause this is how I feel right now,” but do you have that balance where you’re like hyper-aware of what people think?
KD: I was just like “fuck it,” because if you listen to the whole song, it goes through three different lives, where first this character is like “fuck everything, fuck everybody, I hate the world, I’m over it,” and I feel like everyone feels like that sometimes. And then it flips and it’s like “I love my girl, I love the world,” and then the last, I’m talking as myself and not a made up character, where I’m just content with where I’m at and how I’m growing and the pace that I’m growing at.
EF: Exactly, and in “Another Life”, you still say you would never ask for another life, even when you’re this first “fuck everything” character.
KD: Yeah, that’s how it concludes at the end. Even though everything could fucking suck right now, I still wouldn’t trade it in for anything else. I’m just being who I am sometimes, and there has to be a balance. No one’s always happy, no one’s always sad. I think people are really going to feel it for what it is.
I mean for every art, you can’t look at just one part and not look at the whole picture, you have to see it for what it is in it’s entirety…
EF: I was thinking about it recently and if I were to refer to you, I’d say you’re an R&B singer, but do you consider yourself within that genre? Or these days, does genre even matter anymore?
KD: Right? I know, so many people do mad shit. I mean I would definitely say I’m R&B based, but there definitely are so many under currents of so much other shit. I’m not going to lock myself in a category where I’m just that [R&B] and I’m gonna do hella runs and like, go soul, but I already have soul with everything I do, so I just use that on different platforms. If you want to classify me as R&B though, you wouldn’t be wrong though.
EF: What came first, singing or writing for you?
KD: Singing definitely came first, I’ve been doing that my whole life. When I was 9 I wrote my first song, it was called “I Wanna Know,” and I told my mom, like, “I really want to do this, I want to be an artist,” and I’m sure at that age my mom just thought I was cute. But she’s always been super supportive.
I mean, the first tape was about me coming to terms with a lot of things and trying to find myself through a lot of shit.
EF: So you wrote Sixes and Sevens in your bedroom though?
KD: Yep, all in my bedroom.
EF: Was there a lot of stuff you cut out in the process?
KD: Yes, so much. There’s probably like 10 tracks that didn’t make the tape, and probably like 5 that were unfinished.
EF: I feel like there was very much so an order on the tape though, like it had a cohesive flow. I mean it goes through all these phases and then it ends with “Bye” and you kind of just peace out after talking about all this serious shit.
KD: Yeah, you caught that! It was very visual too, because I do work visually. Like I even wanted people to see that track name at the end, like “Bye” and know that’s where it ends.
EF: I love that, I feel like albums are happening like that much more now which is great, and my brothers actually the one who taught me that, like you can’t just listen to a single, you have to buy an album and listen to the whole story.
KD: I mean for every art, you can’t look at just one part and not look at the whole picture, you have to see it for what it is in it’s entirety, because that one piece completes the picture.
EF: When you were younger, who did you listen to a lot?
KD: Oh my god, the first album I ever bought was Usher. I bought Confessions, I mean I bought that shit with my Christmas money.
EF: That makes sense with all the falsetto. Anyways, sorry to backtrack, but what the hell does Sixes and Sevens mean?
KD: It’s so random, but it’s actually a term used in the UK all the time, it’s like an old-school British term that means confusion, and like craziness. I know it’s so weird.
EF: Really? Use that in context, haha.
KD: Like, “I’m so sixes and sevens right now.” I know, I looked it up and then I asked some of my UK friends and they were like, “Yeah but like old people say that shit.” So it’s like old-school but yeah, it means going a little crazy in the head.
EF: Wait, how did you hear it?
KD: I was having trouble what to call the tape and my homeboy actually sent me the term and what it means and I was like, “this is perfect.” I mean, the first tape was about me coming to terms with a lot of things and trying to find myself through a lot of shit.
EF: Did a heartbreak inspire the album at all?
KD: I wouldn’t necessarily say a heartbreak, but I guess some parts. I can say a couple past relationships inspired it for sure.
EF: Kehlani said something recently that I liked, she was like “Love can’t really do me wrong cause if it works out then great, but if it doesn’t I can just make some great music out of it,” do you agree?
KD: 100% agreed. Because if you go through something, you can write about anything. So dating an artist is hard, for the other person I mean [laughs].
EF: Do you believe in karma?
KD: I definitely believe in all these different energies, but I kind of believe that what’s going to happen is going to happen, regardless. I don’t think that if you do something bad to someone, you’re going to fuck that up.
EF: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
KD: Sooo many. Can I say multiple? I mean the ultimate would be Micheal Jackson but that would never happen because he’s no longer here. But I would love to work with Chance [The Rapper], Childish Gambino, SZA, The Internet.
EF: I feel like you and Erykah Badu would vibe.
KD: Oh shit. I would like to just breathe the same air as her. I want her to breathe into my mouth. She’s a goddess. Okay, scratch everyone I just said, I love them all, but Erykah is the ultimate. So Erykah, if you’re reading this, slide into my DM’s.
EF: Okay, favorite album of 2015 so far?
KD: Definitely Ego Death by The Internet, that album was so tight, no doubt the best in my opinion. I loved Childish Gambino’s new album Kaui. If You’re Reading This was dope too, I love Drake’s shit, oh, and Tokio’s album.
EF: Favorite radio hit, guilty pleasure of 2015?
KD: I don’t really listen to the radio, but I guess if I had to, I’d say I like Fetty Wap. I’m a Fetty fan.
EF: Do you have any artistic talents besides singing?
KD: I do, I draw a lot.
EF: Well I guess we’re going to see how good you are then.
Kyle and I played a game, that so cleverly came up with thanks to Painting Sounds. I would give him a prompt and he would have a minute to paint what he thought this sound looked like, and he had to paint with his fingers cause I wasn’t going to make it that easy. He did the same for me, and clearly, mine were a little more abstract than his more artistically gifted pieces.
Kyle’s first prompt for me was “LA traffic”.
My prompt for Kyle was “Sex in a public restroom.” Apparently he thinks that looks like a brainstorm.
I then gave Kyle “bee sting.” He’s never been stung by a bee before if you couldn’t tell.
Kyle wanted to see what I think his single “Another Life” looks like.
So I gave him “Never Did That Before” off of Sixes and Sevens.
All photos by Alan Lear.