At a very young age, up-and-coming artist Dylan Gardner started playing music. He didn’t realize music was his true passion until the age of 14, though, when he really started writing and singing songs.
After his freshman year of high school, Gardner became home-schooled in order to have more time to work on his music. That may very well have been the best decision of his life.
The 18-year-old debuted his first full-length album, “Adventures in Real Time,” in May. He wrote all the songs on the album, plus a whole lot more — he had to cut his tracklist from 100 songs to just 10.
He also produced half the album on his own in his bedroom studio and co-produced the other half with John Dragonetti, of The Submarines, who plays bass in his band. His brother Mark, also his drummer, helped him come up with the album’s name.
In addition to writing, singing and producing the songs, Gardner plays some of the instruments on them. With that and his vocals, he performs roughly 75 percent of all the music, with his brother and Dragonetti filling in the rest of the sound.
Gardner counts artists such as The Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Ben Folds, Elliott Smith and Sam Cooke as some of his many inspirations. Although those musicians are from older generations, Gardner also likes some of today’s music. A general music appreciator, he is open minded and speaks positively about the changes in music over time.
“Music in different decades is cool,” he said.
“No matter what decade or sound, as long as you try your hardest to make the music, the music is timeless,” he added. “You can go from listening to Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ to The Beatles, and the music is still great. As long as it’s about the music — not making money — it’s great.”
Gardner recently moved from his home in San Tan Valley, Arizona, to Pasadena, California, to work on his music career. He admits that his life has changed but said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
After moving to Pasadena, Gardner performed at the Levitt Pavilion there last month. He recalled the show fondly.
“It’s super heartwarming to see people sing along in the audience,” he said. “It’s absolutely awesome. All I want to do is give them a fun show.”
Though “Adventures in Real Time” is Gardner’s first full-length album, it was not the first album he recorded. He released an EP titled “Morning Stories” in 2012.
Looking back, he has mixed feelings about that record. He said he wasn’t fully in it as a writer and producer, and he felt there was a wall between him and his music.
“Adventures in Real Time,” on the other hand, feels like him, he said. The team for the album was smaller, but it felt right. It was a fun experience in which Gardner said he finally found his sound.
Right now, he’s fully focused on his music and doesn’t see college in his near future, but he’s not ruling it out entirely.
“College is to learn what you want. At this point, it would slow me down,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll go to learn soundscaping or mixing, but college, for me, is a waste of time. It would just take time from working on my craft.”
And he’s constantly working on that craft, constantly recording. In fact, he is already preparing his next album.
Speaking of his never-ending recording sessions, he said, “Sometimes writing songs is a challenge, but it’s always fun. It’s the best feeling in the world to know you wrote another song.”
Don’t expect to find all those songs on future albums, though.
“Some songs may just be your pride and joy of the day, but not used when music is released.”
Gardner has plenty to be proud of. His album is genuine and a true representation of him. There are no facades in his music, and it’s anything but ordinary.
At the end of the day, music is music, and playing it couldn’t make Gardner any happier.
Find out more about Gardner at www.dylangardnermusic.com.
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