Podcast 778: Dylan Henner
Blissfully hypnotic ambient.
Podcast 778: Dylan Henner
Blissfully hypnotic ambient.
Very little is known about Dylan Henner, who appeared on the experimental-ambient scene in 2020, when he released his first full album, The Invention of the Human, on Nic Tasker’s AD 93 (f.k.a Whities).
What we do know is that the elusive English artist became obsessed with music at an early age and released his first record, A Reason for Living, in 2019. He connected to Tasker, who in 2019 was working at Bleep, around the time of his second release, Stormbird Brother in the Dusk, and proceeded to send him demos of The Invention of the Human. Luckily, Tasker liked them, and the album landed: a collection of gauzy, transient soundscapes built from synthesized vocals and field recordings.
Since then, Henner has released a love letter to a train journey through rural Pennsylvania, plus some cassette and digital records for Brighton, England-based Phantom Limb, Belgian label Dauw, and AD 93’s tape-only imprint, Syon. But more recently he’s released You Always Will Be, his second album, telling the story of a single life from birth to death. “I’ve been thinking about the passage of life a lot recently as I lost all four of my grandparents but celebrated the birth of my daughter all within a short period of time,” Henner told XLR8R. “The brevity and preciousness of being really hit me.”
Alongside the album, Henner has prepared an XLR8R podcast, filled with the music he listened to while making it but also that has inspired him across his whole career. Beyond the XLR8R favorites, Sarah Davachi, Roméo Poirer, and Ulla, you’ll hear music from Tom van der Geld, Venus Ex-Machina, The Isolation Choir, and more. Dial up for a pensive mix of cyclical melodies and hypnotic loops in celebration of a blissfully poignant record.
01. What have you been up to recently?
Lately I’ve been really excited about my new album, You Always Will Be. Creating the project has been a really emotional experience, following the passing of my grandparents and arrival of my daughter. All I can ever do with life changes like these is to write about them in music. It’s the way my mind or soul makes sense of them. So I put them into this record. It was devastating, but it was real.
02. What have you been listening to?
Joe Rainey, Lucrecia Dalt, Suicidal Tendencies, Rosalía, Sade, Ulla, Sarah Davachi, and Klaus Wiese.
03. Yes, you’ve just released a new album. What can you tell us about it?
My new record is a single, 40-minute piece of music telling the story of a single life from birth to death. It’s not my life, it’s the life of an imaginary character. But the record is underpinned with audio from my family’s home videos, especially in the childhood movements of the piece. The song titles listed on Bandcamp refer to the various ages the piece portrays. It goes from infancy to childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to parenthood to middle age to old age to death. I got pretty deep with it, especially given that it came from such an emotionally annihilating period in my own life.
04. Where and when did you record this mix?
I created this mix shortly before the release of the album. It’s on a similar theme: tying together the experiences of childhood with those of adulthood, experienced through different lenses. I was really inspired by the innocence and playfulness of Hermeto Pascoal, for example, and I loved offsetting that against the grittiness of the Benedetto Ghiglia track and the beauty of Qu Xixian’s. I made it in my studio, between my newborn daughter’s naptimes!
05. How did you go about choosing the tracks you included?
There’s a mix of music chosen instinctively for the mix itself and music that has lived with me for the duration of creating my new album. But I won’t say which is which.
06. What can the listener expect?
Music in search of meaning. That’s all we want, isn’t it? To understand what we’re supposed to be doing. I don’t have any answers, but I think it’s important to ask the question.
07. What’s next on your horizon?
As always, writing more music. And performing more. And remixing some friends. And trying out collaborations with other artists. And pursuing my dream of writing music to film. Lots!
XLR8R Subscribers can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R subscriber, you can read more about it and subscribe here.
01. Etnia “Eew’ran” (Self-Released)
02. Tokio Ono “Niko” (Not Not Fun)
03. Omeed Norouzi “Shell of Light” (Self-Released)
04. More Eaze “Low Resolution at Santikos” (Leaving Records)
05. Sarah Davachi “First Cadence” (Late Music)
06. Tom van der Geld “Small Mountain” (edit) (Black Sweat)
07. Benedetto Ghiglia “El Suplicio” (CAM Records)
08. Hermeto Pascoal “Música da Lagoa” (Self-Released)
09. The Isolation Choir “Wild Mountain Thyme” (Self-Released)
10. Venus Ex-Machina “The Abyss” (AD 93)
11. Nadeen “Summer Day” (Seydenfaden)
12. Unknown “Unknown” (Unknown)
13. Qu Xixian, China Central Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir “Wait For You Til The Break of Day” (China Record Corporation)
14. Dylan Henner “Today I Taught Them How To Skip Stones Across the Lake” (AD93)
15. Ulla “Foam Angel” (3XL)
16. Ibukun Sunday “Purport” (Phantom Limb)
17. Roméo Poirer “Muscle de Sable” (Fatische)
18. Raymond Scott “Little Miss Echo” (Basta)
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