“The world needs creative humans. Please do not stop creating and chasing your dreams,” says Dylan Meek.
The talented multi-instrumentalist is fresh off his incredible album release show in Los Angeles at The Peppermint Club, a residency at Bar Bacari in Silverlake, and two-days of dazzling crowds at DoubleBlind Magazine’s Mycologia Festival (alongside drummer James Yoshizawa, singer Brian McKnight Jr., and guitarist Spencer Greer, staples in a rotating lineup of local collaborators).
The L.A. based musician is on a hot streak, with an upcoming showcase 9/13 at Black Rose LA and then off again on national tour alongside Sir Woman.
A seventh generation Texan, from a family of glass artists, literature professors, psychologists, and rocket engineers, Dylan was raised in the relatively small village of Wimberley.
By the age of 6, Dylan taught himself to play blues and boogie woogie piano. At 14, Harlem piano legend Jimmy Neeley (Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Etta Jones), took Dylan in as a protege, passing along nearly a century of wisdom and music.
"Dylan, the young lion, has that gift,” said Neely, who passed away in 2014. “I want him to play loose, never the same thing twice. I don't want him to be like a clock, tick tock, tick tock.”
Dylan is the furthest thing from robotic. All it takes is pressing play, or walking through the door at a show to be enveloped in Meek’s soulful approach to music, and life.
Neely’s certain to be proud.
At 17, Dylan moved from Texas to Boston to live with his brother Buck Meek (Big Thief) and play organ and piano at gospel churches like the Grant AME and Good Shepherd. These experiences provided the first inspiration for Dylan to begin singing.
At the New School for Jazz, residing 7 years in New York City, Dylan was a frequent collaborator with legends like Johnny O’neal, Jackie Williams, Reggie Workman, Jr. Mance, Lew Soloff, plus Fred Stanton and Benny Powell of the original Duke Ellington Orchestra.
It was there he recorded his first solo album, And When (2012), with Greg Hutchinson and Ben Wolfe, playing thousands of shows around the five boroughs with various artists, including his 17-piece funk band Wet Velvet, and a weekly residency at Zinc with his trio with Victor Jones, Alex Blake, with whom Dylan recorded the album Time for Class.
The depth and output of these collaborations, are a veritable homage to the profound legacy and influence of Black American Music around the globe.
Dylan’s friend and collaborator Ray Angry (the Roots, Alicia Keys, Nas, Lauryn Hill, Dr. Dre) would help initiate Dylan into the world of hip hop and production, connecting him with Om’mas Keith, with who Dylan went on to collaborate with on several projects, including co-writing Invincible with Keith and Aminé for Spiderman - Into the Spider Verse.
In 2014, Dylan headed cross-country, as musicians often do, to Los Angeles, where he’s since played with Post Malone, Quavo, Miguel, Stanaj, opened for Imagine Dragons on tour with Grace Vanderwaal, collaborated with Mike Judge for Tales from the Tour Bus, and recorded with the one-and-only Questlove.
Today, now 27 years old, after a life’s worth of collaboration with so many greats, and an entire career ahead of him, Dylan has pivoted to focus primarily on writing and performing his originals, growing a faithful fan base in Los Angeles with his band, and for the last three years, self-producing and engineering his first all original solo record, All I Need.
Magnetic sat down with Dylan ahead of his upcoming shows.
N: What was the inspiration and process for making All I Need?
D: Love. Simple, but so profound. This album means so much to me. I put a lot of love, intention, and energy behind it. It is a Love Opus: and carries with it, many forms of love: Summer Love, Playful Love, Joyful love, Sentimental love, Gentle Love, Gritty Love, All-encompassing raw and chaotic Love.
Love is a dynamic feeling. It comes in all forms and lives in its power. Love is one of the most powerful things. It is more than a definition: It is a feeling. Love can be the will to live, the will to grow; the will never to give up.
This album represents this dynamic range/energy of love put to the song.
The process of making this album was a long and winding one. Self-produced, wrote, and arranged the whole thing. Took me about 3 years to complete and another 2 to drop. I have been producing music for almost 10 years but I started working on this album 5 years into my skills and experience as a producer growing. Plus, I put a lot of my own money and resources into recording, finishing, and putting out this album.
Most people do not understand what truly goes into creating, finishing, and putting out an album. Typically there are always obstacles in doing so. So you must be very dedicated to the love of music and your artistic vision and craft to make an album. Especially a self-composed produced and self-released one.
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I am so happy it’s out. I gave that album every ounce of my heart, body, and soul. There is so much love and intention in that album.
N: It shows. How do you go about choosing the musicians you perform with?
D: By finding people I resonate with on the deepest musical and human character levels. I feel like if you do that, it is hard to go wrong.
N: Can you tell readers a bit about your more recent collaborations and performances with artists like Post Malone, Quavo, Miguel, Stanaj, Questlove, and such?
D: When I played with Post Malone on [Late Night With] Seth Meyers, I learned that Post Malone is a very kind and driven human being. Backstage, he played guitar and sang, and I was impressed with his vocals and guitar skills.
Quavo was featured on that show, and I remember how respectfully he treated me backstage.
Questlove? First, he is one of my favorite producers and musical minds. Voodoo by D’Angelo is one of my favorite albums of all time — Questlove was a huge part of that album. Also, I love The Roots very much.
I recorded as a session keys player on Long Long Lonely Nights by Questlove’s dad with Questlove in a recording studio in Brooklyn. I have never seen a drummer play that gently in my life. Questlove came into the studio to track drums, did three perfect takes, and asked the engineer to turn the gain on the drums way up. And Questlove played so gently. But the drums sounded huge when we went to the console room to listen.
That first-hand experience has inspired me in the art of recording.
What I like to do with my voice is a similar thing. I turn the gain way up and sing very softly, and like how it picks up different inflections in my voice that you usually wouldn’t hear with the gain lower. I used that technique on the entire record of All I Need.
Salute to Questlove.
N: You also often collab with your brother Buck Meek [of Big Thief], correct?
D: I am in the studio now after hours at Sonic Ranch. After a long invigorating day of recording on my brother Buck Meek’s next record. This is going to be an extraordinary one! We are recording, mixing, and mastering all to tape. I play a Moog Voyager, Mellotron, Juno-60, grand piano, and Hohner Clavinet D6.
My brother’s music and songwriting have been one of my biggest influences, especially as a songwriter and lyricist. Also, being around Big Thief so much has influenced me musically. Some of the songs that will be on my next record have elements of that style of song form and melody mixed with my style too — the soul, neo-soul elements, and the heavy D'angelo and Vulfpeck influence.
N: Your Peppermint Club debut in Los Angeles was incredible…
D: This was the most incredible show I have performed or put on my entire life.
I put a 15 Piece Super band together for it. We performed the whole All I Need album live, plus many songs from my next album. And, got it professionally filmed.
I am putting out 14 videos one song at a time of this show. And then doing a big film premier of the entire live show in a theater in Los Angeles (TBD).
N: Can’t wait! In the meantime, where can people listen to your music and support?
D: People can listen to my music on all streaming platforms. Look up Dylan Meek on any of them and you will find my music.
Also follow my socials @DylanMeekMusic for updates, more content, and behind the scenes kind of things.
Working on the next album right now. And always creating new music. I try to create something everyday!
N: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
D: Never stop learning. If you have a chance to have an artistic mentor, take it. The world needs creative humans. Please do not stop creating and chasing your dreams. We need you.
Also, If you have an artistic/creative vision: follow through and complete it. That process alone will be healing, fulfilling, empowering, and encouraging. Follow your artistic heart. Create regardless of what other people think. It is what you think, feel, create, and dream. Go for it!
You don’t always have to create big things. Start small, and it will snowball. It takes time. Try to stay balanced. It is not a race. Give it all you got!