Despite getting her greatest exposure on the reality show "Rockstar: Supernova", Dilana has proven herself to be an artist's artist, following her instincts to carve our a career that is entirely her own. She has traveled the world, played countless shows, and left an indelible impact on the lives of her fans. That is a fact I can attest to, as both a fan and a critic. Since the first time I heard her voice, she has been my favorite singer. And as a critic, her last album, "Beautiful Monster", was named my Album Of The Year in 2013, memorialized in this review I wrote.
Dilana is now gearing up for the release of a new album (a review of which should be upcoming), a collection of the songs she wrote and recorded for the movie "Angel Camouflaged", which she starred in. Leading up to the release, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to speak with her.
Your new album is made up of the songs you wrote and performed for the movie "Angel Camouflaged". How did you get involved in acting, and is it something you're looking to doing more of in the future?
The director for the film first saw me on CBS when I was performing a song on a TV show called Rockstar Supernova. He met with me right after the series ended and offered me the lead role for his' film. At first, I was just interested in writing the music for the film and didn't even take the acting part seriously because I never thought it would really happen. To my surprise it did! I loved it, and yes, I would love to be in more acting roles.
Was it difficult to create songs that had to fit the content and intent of the movie, instead of reflecting your own experiences?
Partially yes but for the most part I still wrote the lyrics based on personal feelings and experience. The hard part was making it happy LOL. The song, Slaves was and is very, very true and real to me.
Sexaholic definitely reflects my sex addiction which seems to have disappeared since I've become a mother LOL. SuperSoul was already written, the producers picked it because they liked it for a specific scene. We re-recorded it to update the production a little. Ice, which is the theme song for the film, was also pre-written by myself and a good friend in Holland, Jeff Zwart in the late 90s. We also re-recorded this track and on this album it is a much shorter version, as it is the actual film version. The title for the film, Angel Camouflaged is taken from lyrics in this song. The lyrics for Airplane, Everywhere and Maybe just a little, were written straight from my broken heart at that time. They definitely reflect a moment in time for me. I was going through a very hard time with my personal relationship and these lyrics just flowed out of me like a river.
I know many artists are their own worst critics, myself included. Are you someone who can sit down and listen to your own songs, or do you find it hard to listen to your own voice?
Most of the time yes. But there are certain recordings of my voice, that I really dig. You will never catch me sitting and listening to my own CDs, ever… LOL. I do however have the ability to listen to recordings objectively for the best possible release.
You made a record before "Rockstar: Supernova" called "Wonderfool". It's not what someone who is just now hearing you would expect, but how do you look back at that record, both the music and the experience?
I totally agree with that one! The experience in itself was bittersweet. It was my first solo deal with a major record label in Europe. I was young and I was very excited and inexperienced. So all I wanted, was to record my first solo album. At the same time, I felt trapped because I had no real say in how I wanted to deliver anything, both musically and vocally. I was also really insecure and felt that if I were to speak up, I would be laughed at. So I shut up, I sucked it up and just sang the way the producer wanted me to. About the songs, I think many of those songs are great songs. If I could do it over, I would record them completely differently.
It took a long time for your next record, "InsideOut", to come to fruition. Were there ever any times during that process where you were discouraged enough to think about scrapping the idea?
The recording process lasted almost 2 months. It was a great working environment and process and we were in the studio six out of seven days a week. I loved and enjoyed every note and every beat. The sad part was, the label in the UK went down before the record even was released. So it set on the shelf in London collecting dust for close to two years. A private investor eventually bought the Masters from the label and released it on iTunes. During that time I was very discouraged and depressed. It is such a great album, it deserved so much more attention. Songs like Holiday, Somebody Else, Loud Silence,Falling Apart and Solid Gold are hits, plain and simple. But the cd never got the exposure, no super marketing or promotion campaigns etc...What a shame… This still really makes my heart hurt when I think about it. That was when I decided never to sign a major label deal again.
How do you avoid letting the setbacks become overwhelming?
Oh they're overwhelming alright. I cannot avoid my feelings. In fact, my feelings are my inspiration. But I feel them, I grieve and breathe them, and then I do my best to let them go and move on.
"InsideOut" covers a lot of ground musically. Is that reflective of your own tastes and personality? Do you think it's important for you to avoid being categorized for a singular sound?
Yes for sure, on both points. Inside out is a reflection of a lot of various tastes and for sure, my up-and-down, crazy personality. But it still doesn't cover everything.I would probably need at least five new albums to reflect all of me. There is no way I could be categorized for a singular sound. I have so many different loves of music and sound. Hopefully I will live long enough to explore all these genres.
"Beautiful Monster" was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. How much does it mean to you that your fans care enough about you and your music to contribute money to make it possible?
I say it over and over, I have the best and most loyal and loving fans on the planet. There's not a day that passes by, when I don't think about how fortunate and how loved I am. To know that there are all these people around the world, who love my music, Who are moved and connected to my lyrics, and who believe in me, is priceless!
Why do you think your fans are so dedicated to you, not just as an artist, but as a person?
I think in part because of the lyrics that I write. They are words that come from a deep and true place. A place of pain and salvation, a place of knowing and experience. I know that many of my songs have helped people with so many real life issues. Also, I know that people appreciate it when artists like myself, give them love and attention. I get such a warmth inside, when I give a fan a heartfelt hug and see the joy and surprise in their eyes. Or when I take a moment to ask how they are doing and I call them by their name. I truly believe that we are all equal. My gift is just that, a gift, to share with others, to make others feel emotion and feel relief, to help them find answers. I also realize that I would never have my life and career without the love and support from my beautiful fans. And I will never take this for granted.
I love learning about the creative process. How did you go about the songwriting process, and choosing the songs that made the final cut?
Each song is different. Sometimes it's a small idea which starts in a dream. Other times it's a melody that pops into my head while I'm driving. Sometimes it's seeing the actions of others, war, pain, fear, love… That sparks an idea. Usually, for me, I start with the lyrics but that's not always the case. My favorite way of writing is to sit in a room with a cowriter. There is nothing more fun than collaborating on ideas. To see the seed growing and finally picking that flower, is so exciting and so fulfilling as a writer. The best reward is playing it live and seeing the audience and the fans reacting!
"Falling Apart" is possibly my favorite song ever. Is there a story behind it, and how did you come to record two different versions of it?
Thank you! I too, I love that song. This was a cowrite at 4am in New York City with a perfect stranger & amazing co writing partner in a studio. I was in another (lol) very broken and painful, long distance relationship with another artist who lives in Iceland. These lyrics also just poured out of me. It was kind of easy writing this one…
All of your music is incredibly emotional. Is making records, and performing these songs live, as cathartic an experience for you as it is for the audience?
Without a doubt. There are many moments on stage, when I can't even do a song which is on the set list because I'm too emotional. There've also been many times when I just immerse myself into the song so deeply that I can barely make it through the song without crying. I used to care about that, I used to think it made me look weak. Nowadays, I don't give a sh*t what I look like or what people think. I've learned over the past years that showing emotion and showing fear and pain is in fact a very powerful thing to do.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up? Is there anything else you want to tell the readers?
There are so many exciting things going on I don't even know where to begin. I'm about to embark on a five week tour with my all-girls band (SHÍ is DILANA) from Europe. It'll be their first time in the USA so I am beyond excited for them. This band really rocks and is extremely musical and very inspiring for me to perform with. Another exciting thing is the Rock Against Trafficking project! I was chosen as the only "unknown" artist to record a song by Sting or Police, for this album and live show in LA. Other artists also involved are Stevie wonder, Anne Wilson, Alanis Morissette, Slash, Fergie, Nickelback, Rob Thomas and MANY more!!
2016 looks to be very promising. I'm also heading back to Europe again for a bunch of awesome festivals and cool shows.
For more information on Dilana, including how to purchase a copy of her new album of songs from "Angel Camouflaged", visit her Facebook page, or Dilanarocks.com