Who We Follow: DJ Dylan The Gypsy Student by day, DJ by night, with Actor in between, Dylan sits down with Fancy to speak on her two crafts and some of her favorite artists.
In a couple of words, who is Dylan?
Adventurous, Contemplative, and Anxious.
Where are you from originally?
Suburbs of Washington D.C.
How'd you fall into the world of DJing, was it always a dream or did you have other plans?
I’ve always wanted to DJ, but I didn't pursue it at first. I knew I wanted to be here when I was in high school, but I didn't think to pursue it as a career until I turned 19 and moved to New York for an acting career. That’s also what I went to NYU for.
DJing like a lot of careers are male dominated, how do you make sure you are taken seriously?
By being confident in my work and pushing myself. I know the playing field isn't equal and a lot of men aren't going to take me seriously as a DJ, so in order for me to earn that respect, I'm gonna have to give my A game 24/7 and constantly find better ways to improve myself.
What are some of the stereotypes you’ve faced as a female DJ, if any?
Oh, I definitely do, especially when I first started DJing. This was back when my sets were heavily trap influenced. That was all I was listening to in high-shool; specifically underground trap, SoundCloud rap, and 90s Memphis rappers including Tommy Wright III, Three Six Mafia, La Chat, Princess Loko, Frayser Click, etc.… and I know when I first came out in the underground bars of Brooklyn, men would often be perplexed and surprised by the end of my sets. I guess they expected me to play artists catered towards women, or women who looked like me versus playing for the masses through my own taste and dropping gems I grew up listening to; which is what you are supposed to do as a DJ. I am able to tap into music for all genders, races, socioeconomic brackets, religions, ethnicities, etc. versus whatever predisposition they had based off of my appearance.
Are you still working on your acting career or is DJing your main focus?
I'm currently freelancing with a few agents. I haven't graduated yet, my school's program usually offers some type of showcase in which I'm able to meet with really good agents throughout NYC and then from there I pick who I want to sign with. I also have a few projects coming out soon which will increase my chances in signing with a higher brow agency that will treat me as a priority. I don’t want to sit on someone’s roster of a million people feeling neglected. Because right now, the agents that I'm freelancing with are more geared towards commercials, print, and kid stuff… they send me out on the occasional feature film or TV audition, but that is seldom. However, I still love the craft. I’ve been doing student films and music video work to keep myself busy until a larger opportunity arises. That’s how I've been keeping in touch with that side of myself because I realized that when I don't act for a long period of time, I don't feel like myself.
Do you prefer acting or DJing? What are some of the similarities if any between the two crafts
They're just different in execution. I love them both, kind of like how a mom with two kids loves them equally, but in a different way because they are two different people. That's how I treat my two artistic mediums. I do however find similarities in how I work with them. Self-belief is required for both, so in order for me to do the two, the confidence in my approach to both would have to be the same; like my attitude and how serious I take my work. For live DJ sets sometimes I'll improvise, mainly working off of what the crowd gives me. I'll observe the age, the demographic, and how they move to various genres. A lot of that thought process, I got from my acting training. So being able to think on the spot, going into detail, making specific choices, transitions from moment to moment, and timing; all of those are essential for a believable acting performance and that’s my process when selecting songs. Also being able to put yourself in the shoes of another character to tell that story, I have to do that when I'm transitioning from genre to genre, or even from song to song to maintain a positive energy in the room.
What is your style, what should someone expect to hear during your set?
I couldn't even really give you a real answer on that. It has to be specific to what party I'm doing, what kind of venue it is, what projects just came out, how I’m feeling that night, and the timing of my set (beginning, middle or the end of a party). I know if I'm opening, I'm not going to drop all bangers because I know the DJs after me at peak party hours will play all of the same songs, and song repetition in one evening is a pet peeve of mine as a party goer. It really depends, but as far what I enjoy playing, like my go-tos, I love to switch between genres that technically don't really go together. So I'll play a Prince or Michael Jackson song, and then transition to Young Thug or a 2011 Waka Flocka song, anything Neptunes produced, vogue beats, New Orleans bounce, early 2000s NY rap, etc. It varies. I do try to make it as diverse as possible, just because I like being able to provide a variety.
Who are some of your favorite artists right now?
Right now, Donald Glover. He's one of the few young trendy people out right now who truly mastered both music and theater industries. I want to be able to write, produce, and star in my own content. I also appreciate how he remained himself throughout the entire process. I cherish authenticity. That’s very big with me, so now I just need to find a way to accomplish all of these things on my own. As far as music artists, I’ve been listening to a lot of Roy Ayers lately. Dexter Wansel, Freda Payne is really good. I love AZ, Biggie, and Hov. Lil pump is such a troll, but he is growing on me. Gucci Mane is iconic. Lil b is a legend. I gotta show love to the DMV real quick so Nappy Nappa, The Khan, Atomos, Wifi Gawd, Kool Klux Klan, 3-0-Whop, Goldlink, OSP, Thraxx, Shy Glizzy, and Fat Trel. I listen to a lot of Gogo (one of DC’s most famous genres), and I’m a die hard Chief Keef fan. I love French artists like Diane Tell, Edith Piaf, Alain Souchon, and Julie Pietri. My little sister Alem Worldwide, and Aretha Franklin, I love Aretha. I dropped her in a mix recently. Running out of fools is my go-to album whenever a dude does me dirty.
Do you have any advice for the kids?
Yes, don't compare your growth, to the growth of anyone else. I know that's the number one way to become jealous and a hater and no one likes jealous haters. Really move at your own pace, be patient with yourself. Be specific with your goals, plan properly, and execute to the fullest of your capabilities. If you do all of that, it's all going to get easier after a while. People just have to believe in you and that just comes from you believing in yourself.