story / Ariana Tibi
Vibrant, breezy, electronica artist Dyllan shared a discordantly beautiful music video with us for her single, ‘One Of Us.’ The song is an intimate struggle on display, the kind that most of us will go through at one point or another and only some of us are strong enough to step away from. Listen to the intricate delivery of the songstress’s realization below:
Dyllan’s fight to break free in this song is stated in a matter of fact way, being both gentle and slightly dissonant. The production is eery in essence while her voice gives us something more attractive and endearing. The lyrics come in a slight whisper until the chorus opens up as a conclusion should: “One of us wants what the other can’t give.”
The visuals accompanying the track tell the story from Dyllan’s perspective. In the beginning she is being watched by a male figure as she seems to be calmly contemplating the state that they’re in. Distortion follows as her movements are fuzzed and remixed, so to speak, almost like a horror movie without the trauma. Perhaps the jolted imagery signifies the back and forth one feels whilst trying to reconcile a relationship that isn’t working.
“I was in a relationship in which I completely lost my sense of self because I was trying to change to fit the image of what my partner wanted, and because they wanted to isolate me in the relationship,” Dyllan explains. “All of my energy was put towards changing fundamental aspects of my personality, and appeasing this person, but it was never good enough. They made me feel that I couldn’t make the relationship work because of a character flaw, not because we were just too different.”
Dyllan and I spoke about the ins and outs of relationships with others and the self in our interview below. Read to find out more, and follow her on instagram to keep up with her story.
You describe ‘One of Us’ as having simple lyrics in comparison to your other songs, yet it gets to the point in a way that being clever just wouldn’t. Why do you think that is? Did these lyrics come easily to you?
I tend to write my best lyrics when I’m not overthinking it. Oftentimes I’ll just hit record on my Voice Memos and start strumming and humming. I remember I had the line, “one of us,” on loop for a while and the other lyrics were from notes I’d written in my phone, like things I’d wanted to say to this person; drafts of an email. A lot of my lyrics are lost conversations, or conversations I’d wish I’d had. I think it’s just the most honest way for me to write. I’d circled around my true feelings for so long that by the time I wrote this particular song I just needed to tell it like it is, no B.S.
‘One of us wants what the other can’t live,’ — this lyric makes so much sense. What did it feel like to be in a situation where you felt the need to change who you were / how you lived your life?
It was an incredibly stressful situation. I already had low self esteem, and it was being chipped away at every single day. Because my partner constantly put me on a pedestal and then broke me down, I became super reliant on their approval, and if I didn’t have that I couldn’t function or form my own opinion of myself. All of my mental and emotional energy was directed toward pleasing them, even though I rarely got the same in return. I was distracted, didn’t prioritize my own needs, and I was perpetually depressed and anxious. I should have realized how bad it was because people who knew me well were concerned. It was hard to understand how my partner’s opinion was so dissonant from that of my friends and family, and I had no idea who to trust.
This song is thought-provoking and deep, in such heavy situations we try to grow with one another, using those fundamental differences as a catalyst. At what point does it become unhealthy?
Thank you, I’m glad you think so! I agree that a good relationship is one in which two people grow together and learn from one another, but only when that growth is supportive and bolsters what’s already there. I think it becomes unhealthy when someone is questioning your basic personality, like being, “too sensitive,” or “extroverted,” or “introverted,” and using those qualities as bait or an explanation for why things aren’t working out. You have to wonder, if this person is so disapproving, why did they want to be with me in the first place? Usually it stems from a deeper insecurity that’s being projected outward and onto you. The most important thing I learned through this experience is that love is a beautiful thing, but it isn’t enough. I was with someone who didn’t want to live in a city or have kids for example, which was totally counter to how I envisioned my life, but I actually considered sacrificing those things in order to stay in the relationship.
The melody in the chorus is so unexpected yet fits perfectly with the arc of the song – how do melodies represent emotion for you? What is the core emotion you want people to receive from this song?
Thank you! I think the melody in the chorus carries a feeling of exhaustion. It’s maybe even a bit whiney, and by the end there’s a hint of anger as well. It’s repetitive and descends kind of in a downward spiral, which also evokes the monotony of trying to make something work when it just can’t. I have no idea if this makes sense but when I craft melodies I sort of let them lead me…I just dance with them and see where they take me. I guess the core emotion would be…dread.
I think a lot of people can relate to being isolated in a relationship and feeling at fault; to the point where your sense of self is lost. How did you recover your spirit and sense of self-worth? Was there a turning point?
It took a lot of therapy and time, to be honest. When you’re in a cycle of emotional abuse, the longer you stay in it, the harder it is to get out and recover. Because you’ve been used to having someone else label you a certain way, call you names, etc, you start to identify heavily with the ideas they put in your head. I was convinced that I was weak, overly sensitive, clingy, and unable to do anything on my own. But over time I realized it’s actually a beautiful thing that I’m sensitive, that I’m loyal, loving, a good, kind person, and that I should only be with someone who appreciates and respects those qualities. I had to learn to put up boundaries and identify red flags, and I’m still learning!
What is one thing you always need to have with you when writing a song?
I always need my phone (unfortunately)! I wish I could completely disconnect from tech but I write most of my lyrics in my notes app and record everything into my voice memos.
You have a very natural voice and use elements in your music that sound organic – how do you feel about electronic music compared to acoustic or raw music?
I love electronic music but I’m a singer-songwriter at heart. It’s really important to me that the lyrical content is honest and that my voice retains the raw emotion that I feel. The cool thing about electronic production is that it allows a whole world of textures to work with, and I love the ways my voice can be distorted and take on a different character. For example at the end of the song there are two vocals on top of one another, “and it’s an age old story, I don’t know why I’m so surprised…” One is the lyrics spoken and distorted, like a devilish voice inside my voice sort of shaming me for continuing on this path. The other is my own voice singing the same line as if to say, “I know, history is repeating itself, I should be ashamed.” Then there’s a spooky choir that sort of sings me out, which could signify the death of the relationship; the end to all this madness. Shoutout to Tim Hui for helping me demo this song and Andrés Rebellon for producing and mixing it 🙂
Who are you listening to these days that inspires you?
Caroline Polachek, BANKS, ROSALÍA, and Clairo.
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