Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.
So usually I’m on here telling you all about an awesome queer country artist whose song / album I’ve fallen in love with. This time is different – this time I want to tell you about an amazing artist whose album I think we WILL fall in love with – once it’s made! To that end I sat down over email and asked queer country pioneer Dillbilly to tell us about the new album they’re crowdfunding.
Emchy: How would you describe you and your music?
Dillbilly: I’m a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who grew up in a rural working class community in southern Indiana and now resides in Oakland. I identify as a white non-binary queer but I’m just as much a cook, a farmer, and a dog lover. Oh and I use the pronouns they/them.
Music: Genre queer singer-songwriter. I can’t seem to settle on this so I’ve also described myself as alt-country, americana, and folk
Emchy: How many albums have you done?
Emchy: What are you excited about with this one?
Dillbilly: This will be my 10th record and the first one under the name Dillbilly, which feels like something to celebrate. All my previous records are under my birth name. Moreover, in the past 20+ most of my records have self-recorded and produced. It’s just been me in my bedroom with a ton of instruments that I may or may not know how to play, my laptop, some field recordings, and a couple microphones. I would bring in other collaborators and players from time to time, but mostly it was me by my lonesome being a mad scientist and locking myself in my bedroom for a month. I do love that process which is why I’ve done it that way for so long, but this record is different. Thinking about doing this next record by myself just made me feel empty. I didn’t want to do it alone anymore. Over the past couple of years, I have been playing around the bay with an incredible band made up of Kofy Brown (Kofy Brown Band, Sistas in the Pit, Skip the Needle), Rhonda Kinard (The Onyx, The Singing Bois), Squeak, and Jesse Strauss (The Singing Bois, Genie of the Lamp). These folks have breathed new life into my songs and I love them with my whole heart. I knew I wanted to involve them somehow as well as give myself the opportunity as an artist to know what it feels like to let others in on the process in hopes of squeezing the most beauty out of the songs. That discovery led me to take a leap and pitch the project to one of my long time musical heros, Julie Wolf (Ani Difranco, Allison Miller, Indigo Girls, Dar Williams, and more), who I had met through mutual friends. I had seen that Julie had been producing and was working with my friend Katie Cash so I googled producer (haha) and was like, “yup…that’s what I need….someone to guide the ship”. At the end of that first meeting, she committed to being my producer for this new record and with that she has gathered an incredible cast of musicians that I have only dreamed of playing with. They include, Todd Sicafoose (Allison Miller, Ani Difranco, Anais Mitchell, etc), Daren Hahn (Melissa Ferrick and Ani Difranco), and James Deprato (Sammy Hagar, Chuck Prophet, Katie Cash, etc.). So I’m excited about this record because I get to make it with my brilliant band and musical heroes! We are excited to bring this project into 25th Street Studio in Oakland and Bird + Egg Studio in Richmond, CA.
Emchy: Was the album inspired or influenced by anything specifically?
Dillbilly: As with any of my music its always inspired by a connection to the whatever ecosystem I’m apart of. You’ll hear that in all my lyrics, along with many bird references (I’m a bird nerd). It’s how I make sense of the world, so this record is very much inspired by the landscape and animal life of Northern California where I’ve been living the past 5 years. Specifically, chaparral. That’s the working title of the record. So yea, its inspired by looking at the world through the lens of that landscape. The animal life, the plant life. Making metaphors is usually where I start in writing songs.
There are definitely records that are I have in mind with this next project. Greg Brown’s Iowa Waltz, Sufjan Steven’s Carrie & Lowell, Joanna Newsom (everything), Cloud Cult’s (everything), Valerie June’s Order of Time, Bon Iver Self Titled, Gillian Welch Revelator, and Junip
Emchy: Is it your first crowdfunder?
Emchy: So many people don’t get how hard crowdfunding can be. Are there things you like / dislike about crowdfunding?
Dillbilly: Well. I will say this. I like telling stories and you definitely get to do that when you crowdfund, but asking people to support my life’s work by donating money feels incredibly vulnerable. All my baggage about money and self worth are alive and well so it’s been an incredible growing place for me to practice standing in my value as an artist. The support of my friends, fans, and family have been overwhelming the best part of doing the crowdfunder. There’s nothing like feeling held by the people you love.
Emchy: Any special perks that you want to call out?
Dillbilly: Yes. I’m excited to be putting out my first vinyl record, so that is one of the perks you can get by contributing to my campaign AND you get it before it is released to the public. Other perks you can get are: A song composed just for you, dog training (bay area only), house shows, Liner credit on the record, and more!
Emchy: What are your goals for this record?
Dillbilly: Well, making this record, the way I’ve described above speaks a lot to what my goals are. Besides all that, I’m excited to see where this new process takes me, but I hope it speaks to folks and ultimately the goal is to reach a wider audience which I hope will lead to more opportunities and space to make music.
Emchy: Are you going to tour the album?
Dillbilly: I definitely plan to tour the record. Europe is one of the big goals as well as playing the West Coast, Midwest, and East Coast. I’m open though and excited to share it.
Emchy: Anything else our queer country audience should know?
Dillbilly: I’m so excited to announce that I’ve signed with Waxsimle Productions, a small record label and production company based in LA. Waxsimile has agreed to support the POST-production of this record which includes mastering, manufacturing of CD’s and Vinyl, promotion, graphic design, music video, PR and more. Basically, these are all the expenses on top of what I’m crowdfunding for. This has been a deal in the making throughout the whole campaign so I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you now. Folks can contribute to the production of the record knowing that the post production piece is covered. As for me, I can’t wait to see where this partnership leads. It sure is nice to not be in this alone.Also – The name Dillbilly is an ode to where I come from in the southern midwest. It means midwestern charm, country music, farming, working class sense of humor, and the complexities of being white and queer in a red state. My values may not align with some of the most conservative parts of where I come from, but it is a piece of what shaped me and I hold responsibility for that in my music and in my actions.