Music Producer, Songwriter with an incredible tolerance to spicy foods, Currently from Los Angeles, CA, Dylan Galvin is this month's SoundGym Hero!
I'm Dylan Galvin. Dylan like "Bob Dylan" and Galvin like "Calvin and Hobbes with a 'G.'" I perform live on the weekends, and I tell this to the crowd to help better find me online.
I'm a producer/songwriter/composer who lives in Los Angeles, CA. I also do voice-overs, mixing, and a little sound design. Anything with sound and a computer, I love to try it out. I'm was born in Lynn, MA but grew up in a little country-flavored town called "Southern Maryland" on the East Coast of the US.
It's a growing place with a small-town feel. Lots of great local spots to play, plenty of cornfields to run through, and if you love being on the water, the Chesapeake Bay is waiting for you and your crazy friends to tie a couple of inner tubes up to a boat and battle it out.
I loved music as a kid. My dad was in a rock band called "The Bleeding Hearts" in the '80s. They sounded like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and had that gritty American heart-rock vibe. Before him, my grandmother was a touring musician in the 1930s and 40's s music runs in my family.
When I was born, my dad had to shelf the rock band and be a dad full time. He worked in an office during the day, but I remember him playing his acoustic guitar sometimes in his room, and my brother and I would hear him. Sometimes he would play while we would jump on the bed and hed make up songs, and we'd go crazy. I always loved music and listened to it in my room. Still, I think those memories had an influence to some degree on my inevitable gravitating towards being a musician myself.
I'm an active member of my church, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. I spend a good amount of time with my friends there. We study the bible, challenge each other on theological doctrines, and have long discussions, sometimes for hours. We pray for each other and sing together, and share our struggles. That's where all my time not doing music goes. Between that and personal bible study and prayer, that's all the hours in the day.
I didn't grow up religious at all. I was very much not a person who liked organized religion. I enjoyed partying, girls and drinking. I did that from my teens into my late 20's, and that's when I was "born again." I had an encounter with God, and I started finding myself drawn to the bible. I started reading it every night, and my previous belief that it was an old, outdated religious text used as a means of controlling people was shattered and proven to be 100% false.
Since then, I've been drawn more and more into a life of spiritual discipline and turning from the old things I once loved that God did not. Music has been a huge blessing in that I've been able to do it as a full-time career ever since graduating college.
I have developed a pretty good tolerance to incredibly spicy foods. I'm talking about Ghost Pepper, Naga Vipers, those hot sauces you see in souvenir shops when you go to the beach, and I even drank some mace before. Now let me be clear, it still hurts really, really bad.
I'm not immune to the pain, but I do it anyway. I've thrown up before and almost went to the hospital. There's something wonderful about that rush you get from the heat, and also, it's humbling because you realize how wonderful it is to not be in pain when it's all over. Haha.
I once won the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin' Wings Challenge" twice in a row without leaving the restaurant. I was supposed to be rewarded with a shirt, but they were out, and they gave me a coupon to get more hot wings. I did not use that coupon. I basically laid on the floor of my room for the next three days. I will not be doing that again.
It's usually pretty entertaining for people to witness, but it hasn't really proven helpful other than that. I have yet to get to a bridge troll that won't let me pass until I eat the magical spicy pepper he's holding.
1 Cor 10:31
So whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God
From a Christian point of view, this is basically God saying - "do your job and do it well; if you are a plumber, you better be the best plumber. If you're an astronaut, be the best astronaut". God wants believers to be really good at their jobs. And it's a blessing that I get to do what I love, so I have lots of motivation to do it well.
I also love storytelling. Movies and podcasts, and anything with a story is something I really love. Music is a perfect medium for telling stories, even if it's devoid of words. You can say so much with just a chord or a simple piano line.....it's a language of abstraction that communicates via emotion and memory in people. It makes it perfect for telling stories.
I would love to sit down with Thomas Newman (the composer from American Beauty, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Finding Nemo) and write a singer-songwriter album with him arranging and orchestrating. That would be a wild collab.
He has mastered the art of non-traditional instruments and textural landscapes to evoke very specific emotions. His music is almost anti-thematic a lot of the time. He's the opposite of John Williams (I also love John Williams). That's the kind of bed I would love to lay lyrics over. I'm very passionate about lyrics (I literally sell guitar pick necklaces that have "lyrics matter" stamped on them as part of my merch line)
Before mixing, I'll usually listen to a really well composed and mixed song just to calibrate my ears and brain. It helps to get a reference in mind even if you don't use that reference for the song you're mixing, just to know what "good" sounds like. If I'm singing, I'll drink hot tea, use throat spray, and do vocal warm-ups sometimes for hours. Sometimes I'll drink coffee even though you're technically not supposed to. (insert Rage Against the Machine song here) I just really like coffee. I won't do what you tell me.
I like to struggle as little as possible in the recording process with the performance. Since I usually am the recording artist and engineer to my sessions, anything to make it easier and more efficient is a plus.
So I wrote a song that was a bit of a jab to the mainstream music industry. It's called "How to Write a Pop Song." If you've been astute in noticing trends from the 60's onward, you'll notice a decline in harmonic creativity, a reduction in vocabulary, a near disappearance of modulation (except Beyonce's "Love on Top" - she KILLS that, that ending of that song is a modulation marathon), less complexity in chord structure and melody.
Everything is more uniform. Easily digestible. Simple to understand. The music comes to you. There's less need to think; it's all laid out. There's less introspection or careful thought into interpreting what's being said. It's kind of like the food industry. Manufacturers could pay half the amount to give you half the product and fill in the gap with color, sugar, and brilliant branding. A lot of it is a "music-like product."
There are, of course, exceptions, and in the indie world, things are booming more than ever! Spotify is teeming with great music. It's the best time to be a musician because all the available tools that were once only accessible by labels. But labels don't take the risks they once did in the '60s and '70s. The business model has been streamlined and sterilized.
So, my song takes a jab at that, but then reveals that in reality often times when you are angry about some large issue at hand, you're really just projecting from a personal problem you haven't yet resolved, so in the fashion of the very song's I'm critiquing, I'm paying a little homage to the overall pop genre which I often like. I also bring it back to the ironic tendency that pretty much every song, no matter what it seems like it's about at first is really just a song about relationships and love.
Ollo mixing headphones! Oh my goodness, it's like having nearfields in your ear. It's incredible how balanced and full these things sound. My room isn't treated, so I have some challenges getting a good mix, but these are designed for exactly that.
They are pricey, but I mean if 1 Cor 10:31 says to be the best at what I do and for God's glory, I need some good equipment.
I recommend these to all my friends at SoundGym this is a masterpiece. They are hand calibrated and are beautiful looking as well.
I love the feedback from the other SoundGym peeps! It's really helpful to get fresh ears on my mix. They immediately spot things you missed in seconds. It's cheaper than paying an audio engineer to do this every time you mix a song, and many of them are audio engineers! There are some insanely skillful people in this community, and I love that their talents and skills are crowdsourced so we can all help each other out (after they get done decimating you in the Olympics). I like listening to other's music and giving feedback as well; it helps train me to make decisions more quickly.
Right now, I'm producing an audiobook, scoring a web series called "Ranger Joe," producing music for singer-songwriters, writing and producing my own music, and playing gigs on the weekends. I do voice-over work and acting as well. It's a lot to juggle, but I love it. I love the constant shifting of the workload. I think I have ADHD because I tend to get bored really quickly if work is the same every day, so this is definitely a blessing. It's like being in a spaceship in battle with buttons and knobs everywhere, and there's always something to run over to and check to keep things going. I like that kind of work week.
I'm actually hoping to stay out of the music industry. I'd like to focus on the music business instead. Large parts of the industry are like a big machine that you have to dance like a little monkey to get into, and it can be very political, but the business - anyone can learn. Any person with self-discipline and business savviness can have a thriving career without the industry. You're your own boss. No hierarchy to dance around. I want to be more of a music entrepreneur.
Actually, for you who's reading this, there's a company called "Indepreneur" that actually teaches effective digital marketing techniques to indie musicians. They are the best out there; no one comes close. I highly suggest checking out their "Fan Finder" course. You can buy their courses individually or sign up to an annual membership and get access to everything.
If an opportunity did arise, I would consider it, but I'm not actively trying to get "found" in the traditional sense. Just to be a white-collar working musician and have enough to raise a family one day and live without worrying about money. Anything else will be an added blessing.
Audio Ear Training for Music Producers and Sound Engineers