American Songwriting is Deeply Influenced by Irish Music | An Interview with Jared Dylan

With his feet on Irish soil, Jared Dylan is on a musical odyssey. The budding pop star had no previous Irish connections but set forth on an inspiring trip around the Emerald Isle. Jared has already worked with Paddy Casey in the esteemed Westmeath recording studio, Grouse Lodge, and has toured with Aslan. The New Jersey singer released his first Irish single ‘Can’t Stop’ this March and this summer he will put out a conceptual EP consisting of four tracks that tell a story and incorporate different styles in each. I chatted with Jared about his Irish experience and academic background in songwriting.


Tell us how you came to the decision to come to Ireland?

“So I’ve been writing and recording a lot over the past couple of years and I’ve been able to work in New York, LA and Miami. I’ve always wanted to be in Ireland, to see Ireland. The opportunity just finally presented itself where I was able to come out here and actually the first person I collaborated was with Paddy Casey. And so my management was able to co-ordinate the songwriting sessions which was a task in itself. That collaboration went so well that Bob Geldof’s production company Zinc Media was interested in making an entire documentary out of the idea of an American guy with no ties to Ireland coming over here and studying the techniques and essence of Irish songwriting.”


Has your creative process been influenced by the new surroundings?


“Oh absolutely. I’ve definitely felt that from being here I need to crank it up a bit more. It’s cool because there’s never a down moment for me now. I have GarageBand on my cellphone so even in the car, on the way to gigs and I’d be making be music. I’ve probably written more music in the last two weeks than I have in the last four months.”


Have you got an interest in traditional Irish music?

“I’m actually very interested in it. I have a pub crawl coming up – well it’s a tour of all these songwriter nights in bars around the country. With that, I have another artist that’s going to be performing with me, just like three songs here and there before I go on and he’s going to be teaching me about trad music, traditional Irish folk and Celtic songs. In college, I studied music but the programme itself was this experiential programme where they take you all the way from classical music up until modern pop and you’re studying the musicology side, the history of it and in a separate class, writing songs to emulate these classic compositions. It sparked my interest in history. Because music is really incredible in that you hear all these stories about history but the music tells you about how people were feeling about it at the time. It tells you why things were happening and it really gives you an insight into the history that you wouldn’t have otherwise. For me the real inspiration comes from that idea that my music can be a timestamp on history. That’s a huge motivation for me to be here because so much of our folk music and our songwriting is deeply influenced by this Irish music.”


Who are your main influences?

“The Beatles. My first concert ever was Green Day. My background was that real guitar-driven, punk rock and then when I started playing music, my favourite bands were the Arctic Monkeys, the Kooks and the Strokes. So I taught myself to sing, singing the Kooks and the Arctic Monkeys. The first two years in university, they were training me to not sing with an English accent because I had picked it up. Honestly, I had never even noticed it.”


You won the BMI John Lennon songwriting scholarship and performed on The Voice. Were they very formative experiences as well as college?

“Yeah it’s interesting because it all kind of happened around the same time too. It was this whirlwind for two years where I was on The Voice for Season 3 and instead of putting me on a team, they wanted me to come back for Season 5. I missed my high school graduation and commencement ceremony because I was on The Voice in LA. So I went college which turned out to be good a decision; that college itself turned out to be very formative. It made me everything I am. I’m a very big advocate of getting an education. The scholarship came at the perfect moment because I was questioning my freshman year of college, my validity as a songwriter… That drove me to push myself harder and harder than anyone else that anyone that was there.”


The John Gibbons remix of Jared’s single ‘Can’t Stop’ is out now. His remaining tour dates are as follows.

May 25 – Mallow Race track

May 26 – Paddy Casey w Special Guest Jared Dylan – Carnbeg Hotel Dundalk, Dundalk

May 27 – Mallow Race track

May 30 – Bru Bar, Cork

June 02 – The Secret Garden, Galway

June 09 – Street festival Roscommon