Dallas Heron playing in Brooklyn. (You can start about 1:50 seconds in.)
A quick interview here with singer songwriter Dallas Heron.
NSJ: So long ago you played in quite a lot of different screaming or rapping or pop groups. But you seemed to find a home in songwriting. How did you get there?
DH: I started rapping and yelling then learnt to sing and later on learnt to play guitar. I was into Hip Hop, Hard Rock and Metal for quite a few years and then suddenly couldn't stand anything harsh and at the same time had a real creative urge to express what I was feeling so started writing acoustic rock and doing tribal drum jams in the woods haha. Now I'm not adverse to harsh and noisy things like I was, but to answer your question I had to digest everything first, hip hop and punk are great entry points into music creation then once you get the hang of things create create create, pick out the best bits. Bands and people are hard to hold onto but I'm still here and I still want to do it.
NSJ: Hobart seems to have a pretty eclectic music scene, this is where you grew up as a musician?
DH: I learnt to be a singer and musician in Hobart. There were lots of really good bands around, mostly playing indie pop to noisy punk and metal. Which is the same today but with a little more diversity. I got my start at senior high school. They had a brand new studio and I got right into jamming with the bands as a singer and also getting free voice lessons as part of my course. The parties I was going to sometimes had a jam room and the people were always encouraging to just get on the drum kit or guitar and play whatever no matter how bad it sounded.
Listen to Drag from 2012, here
NSJ: Since you've been living in New York, California, and Tasmania during the past years, do you feel these different places effect your writing or singing?
DH: Yes. Each environment changes what you play or what you visualize when you're improvising. But somewhere in there there's a solid core that's the same wherever you go. I like to listen to what's going on around me sometimes when I'm playing, like the crowd noise or traffic or birds and try to fit into that environment. Its like a starting point then the music takes over.
NSJ: Harlem Bound has always been a favorite song of mine. If it's a simple feeling in transit, that's completely fine, because I love the melody and the voice in it, but is there a story behind it?
DH: I improvise most of my lyrics then try to capture what I was trying to say later. From what I can gather its a friend helping another, cheering them up partying on the beach but what I'm really showing is The Rockaways (Queens NY) at night, memories of people on a beach, I'm hovering dream like over the scene. That's what I'm improvising with. Vocally I was trying to do something rhythmic, kind of Mick Jagger. It was one of those riffs that went through lots of changes, at first it was slower with a completely different melody but I kept messing with it. The vocal lines came really quickly with a little re-arranging and editing.
Listen to Harlem Bound here.
NSJ: What have you been working on down there in Australia? What's new?
DH: I'd been making finger drumming laptop beats and doing a rhythmic style of singing over the top. I'm really liking what I'd started but then I got fired from my job and started playing guitar again. Since then I've been making some instrumental solo acoustic songs. I feel like I want to get better on guitar, not so much technically but better at creating the vibe I'm after and as always with me I'm trying to make it sound complete without the need for a band. The singing will come later.
NSJ: Which musicians along the way have you met that you think we should look into?
DH: My tastes change from week to week depending on what I'm trying to do musically myself but in the past year I've listened to Black Moth Super Rainbow, Daniel Bachman, Jenny Hval, Tinariwen. I also loved searching out some of Celia Cruz's friends Mercedita Valdés and Candita Batista. (Side note: good travels here, all kinds of good painting music.)
But also there's all the nameless buskers and sounds on speakers I can't identify. Like this homeless guy from Africa all he had was his dog and leather jacket and a steel string guitar. He could play so well in such a brilliant way that any stage would be happy to have him. There's so much mud to wade through but every now and then you find a brilliant diamond.
* In the interest of searching through the mud, it may be worth your while to check out some of these other bands from Hobart. I had some fun visiting them. There's a bunch, but here are a few to get started. A little loose punk and some softer ones. But they have some serious metal in the pile, too. Also, limited edition cassettes can be yours!
Slag Queens Feline Opioid Almanac
Hailing from Hobart, Tasmania's thriving DIY scene, Dallas brought his steel string and signature finger picking style to New York, becoming a regular part of the New York City songwriter venues for a few years, before returning to Australia. Dallas recorded three , The Slow Road to Normal (2010) in Australia, and recorded both 2012 (2012), Rhythm of the Sun (2014) in New York City.