What were you doing at 14?
It probably wasn’t writing songs and performing on stages at major festivals in front of thousands of people, was it?
If you are Ned Dylan — now 15 — and a musical phenom from Northampton, England, this is you, and this is what you spent your summer doing.
I discovered Ned just prior to the release of “Disco,” his first official song on Sept. 18, 2015 (produced by Gordon Raphael, who produced the first three Strokes’ albums), and I was very impressed with his musical abilities and his attitude.
This is a young man who knows who he is and what he wants. His performances are full of energy and excitement.
His music is a little bit punk, a little bit rock, a little bit storyteller, but a whole lot of fun.
Ned has taken the stage at major music festivals with bands like Alabama Shakes and had a private artist to artist chat with Patti Smith.
He graciously agreed to answer questions sent to him as an interview and he wasted no time in getting his answers to me. I wanted to let his words speak for him, so what follows is a word-for-word Q&A:
Question: When did you start playing? Just guitar, or other instruments?
Ned: I’d always been picking up instruments if they were around and I was fascinated with music from an early age.
Question: When did you start writing songs? How many songs have you written?
Ned: I couldn’t put a number on how many songs I’ve written! Some of them are half-finished, some abandoned and then there’s the ones that have made it into the set.
Question: Who are your musical influences? Why?
Ned: I like to think that all music is my influence. There are artists that I love listening too (Kate Tempest (English poet, spoken word artist and playwright), Frank Turner (English folk/singer-songwriter), Bob Dylan (among loads of others)) but often you never really know where your influences are coming from.
Question: Are your parents supportive of your music?
Ned: Very! If they weren’t I wouldn’t be able to do this. They’re not musical themselves but as things have gotten bigger and busier, I’m lucky that they’ve kept on board.
Question: What do your friends think?
Ned: It’s not something we really talk about. They’re aware we do it, but it would be weird if we all just talked about me. We just talk about normal stuff.
I was on the BBC News the other night and that was pretty funny for people at school to watch!
Question: What festivals did you play this summer? How was the response?
Ned: The festivals have been incredible this year – they always are. Bestival, Secret Garden Party, BoomTown, Rebellion Punk, Bearded Theory and FolkEast were all particular highlights.
The festivals and the stages I’m on seem to be getting bigger all the time.
More than anything though it’s the people you meet that really make the experience.
Question: Do you play shows regularly?
Ned: I play loads but I make the sure all the gigs I do play are things I really want to.
To me, I really want my heart to be in all the gigs as it makes them so much better.
Question: Do you perform covers? What songs?
Ned: I never do covers, it’s just not my thing.
For me it’s all about writing my own stuff, having something to say and more than anything writing lyrics.
Question: What do you do for fun?
Ned: At the moment music seems to be taking over my life!
Question: What goals have you set for yourself?
Ned: I just want the music to get to as many people as possible and keep creative control.
Question: Do you think you have musical staying power?
Ned: Only time can tell! Surely you’ve got to have power first though.
Question: Create your dream band to play with — who is on each instrument?
Ned: My dream band would be the band I have now! They’re amazing.
Bom on drums, Richy Crockford on bass, and Les Fruitbat Carter on lead.
Les was also in Carter USM, so having him onstage is plain surreal!
You read it here first – this lad is going places. It’s going to be exciting to watch his star rise. Here’s to many years of great music from Ned Dylan!
Photo credits: top and bottom photos by Andrew Loveridge; center photo by STF Photo Agency