We first saw Dylan England’s work on the cover of The Spirit of the Beehive’s upcoming album Hypnic Jerks (who we interviewed yesterday,) a paper collage with characters cut out and reassembled over a pink landscape, wrinkled like an old show flyer that was crumpled up and thrown away, only to be found later, flattened out and pieced back together. Upon further investigation, we found some more of his collage work and discovered that he is also the vocalist and guitarist for Buffalo, NY-based emo band Del Paxton. We're generally curious about the intersection of music and visual art, and England is an example of how they can come together cohesively. He collages his own photography and illustrations with other found imagery to make something ethereal and at times surreal, but also evocative and even nostalgic. In the same ethos as his musical heritage, it proves that a feeling is sometimes better communicated through art than words alone.
Check out our interview with England as well as his collages below.
Eben Benson: When did you get into making visual art and when did you get into making music? When did you start doing one more than the other if that ever happened?
Dylan England: I was 12 or 13 when I started getting into music and playing guitar. Once I started going to local shows and getting albums and flyers and stuff, I started to draw a lot more. It feels like it happened pretty simultaneously. I've been making art and playing in bands ever since, so sometimes one will take precedence but I'm usually doing both in some capacity.
Where did you grow up? How do you feel that shaped your music and visual art?
I grew up in a town called Apalachin, New York, which is near Binghamton. Kind of a typical upstate NY town, maybe a bit more rural than most. My parents have a big yard and a lot of woods so I spent a lot of time outside camping and whatnot. I had a paper route, which is just funny to think about now, but like, walking through the neighborhood at dawn and just noticing houses and quiet suburban rituals is something I still explore a lot through my art. Finding punk was almost a necessity too, kind of like a viable "way out", but I live in a suburb of Buffalo now so whatever.
What's your process like for making collages? How do they usually start?
I collect a lot of old books and periodicals and usually start there. A lot of pre-digital printed material has a great aged color quality to it and that usually grabs my attention. Anything like yearbooks, lawn care books, or books on native trees or plants or houses, I'm super into it. I'm usually working on multiple pieces at once, so having a lot of available material helps me make visual connections and complete pieces.
Do you find a lot of overlap between the themes of your art and the themes in your music? Or do you use each to focus on different ideas floating around?
Tons of overlap! I really love 90s emo haha. A lot of the album art from that mid 90s midwest scene is pre-photoshop and pretty laughably bad, like a generic picture of a field or a house and nautical stars and shit, but I love the mundane, kind of overly dramatic quality to it. You can see the process in the scans and cutouts, it's great. I mean, I'm 30 and I still play in an emo band so there's that.... I think with music it's usually a bit more personal while drawing and collage focus on broader themes. Not really sure why that is.
Besides music and visual art, what other work or hobbies are you engaged in?
I work in a coffee roastery and I serve at a restaurant. I like cooking and spending time outside with my wife. I like to read too. Some of my go-tos are Raymond Carver, Anne Sexton, Cormac McCarthy, Ben Lerner, Lorrie Moore, Sherman Alexie, and Haruki Murakami.
How did you end up working with The Spirit of the Beehive on their new album cover?
They tweeted late last year asking for artists to send them work for an upcoming release. I sent them a few images and my website and they ended up using 3 or 4 collages for Hypnic Jerks. Karl Keuhn of Tiny Engines did the layout/text.
Who are some visual artists and musicians that you're currently excited about?
I love Tenement, I think they're probably the best band ever. Amos' collages are so good. This dude Spencer Radcliffe constantly blows my mind as well. He has a noise/collage/ambient project called Blithe Field and they just released a record called "Days Drift By". Its beautiful. Visually speaking I've been really into Arturo Herrera, I think his work is incredible. My wife is a photographer and she recently showed me Katie Fenske's work and I've been hooked.
Tell us about some of your upcoming projects
I've got a solo show called Lawn Order opening on Friday, November 9th 2018 at Sugar City, which is a great DIY venue here in Buffalo. Shout out to the ultra-talented Dana Tyrrell for setting it up!