FEATURED MUSICIAN: DILLBILLY

San Francisco based and Indiana grown, lesbian musician Denise Dill (stage name Dillbilly) has performed across the U.S. and Canada over the past 16 years releasing 10 full length albums of both solo and collaborative projects. Committed to making music with integrity, Dill is independent and motivated to create fiery sounds with local ingredients by their own hands.  Recording, producing, and writing all original songs ranging from acoustic folk to looping electronica and full-fledged rock, Dill is a genre shape-shifter.

Dill just produced a new track, "Reptilian", which is now available on SoundCloud.  They have a show on November 12 at the Last Church in San Francisco. Check out Dill's site at www.dillbillymusic.com.

CNCPT/LSBN caught up with Dill to discuss a bit of what inspires them, as well as to discuss our fall themes of childhood and family.

What inspired you to get into music?

I don’t ever remember making a choice. My dad is a musician. He still plays in a band, still writes music, and is amazing at it. At some point when I was very young they just put me in piano lessons and choir so it was just something I did. In the beginning it was all about playing and performing competitively.

And later you started writing music and playing guitar?

It wasn’t until about junior high that I started to discover and develop a relationship to music outside of my classical competitive beginning. I found Ani DiFranco (yes I am that cliché). Ironically, I didn’t start writing until I had a crush on a boy in high school. He asked me if I wanted to jam and if I wrote songs and played guitar. I lied and said I did. I haven’t stopped writing since. The subject matter has never been about boys after that point.

Photo by Anita Lofton

Photo by Anita Lofton

It sounds like you had to teach yourself at that point, right?

The day I came home from school after I had just told someone I played guitar and didn’t, my dad came to the rescue. He taught me 3 chords. All of sudden, all the rules I had about music that came along with classical piano suddenly didn’t exist and I uncovered my creative side. This was good timing because I had been writing poetry before I discovered I could write songs, so the two happily married. So essentially a lie and my dad inspired me to get into music.

What subject matter do you find yourself coming back to?

I am forever using nature metaphors so I’m constantly watching David Attenborough documentaries to keep things fresh. I’m a gardener and a cook, so the science of those subjects pop up into my songs fairly often. Part of me feels like I’m actually a visual artist trapped in the body of a musician. If I could paint what I see in my head that’d be good, but I have no talent in that sphere so I try the best I can to paint with music, as cheesy as that sounds. Colors are a recurring way I try to create a feeling in a song--just singing about colors.

Denise and their father

Denise and their father

Our theme this fall is childhood and family. What is one of your favorite memories from growing up?

Not to generalize, but I loved all the time that I got to spend running around parent-less (which was most of time) with my two best friends in the woods pretending we were in charge of our own kingdom and discovering a new world. We made maps, built club houses, governed our neighbor kids, and set traps to catch kids trying to take over our territory. That probably makes me sound like a boss--I’m not. But I certainly do that think having that kind of freedom to run around in nature and explore the world imparted me with a sense of adventure and it also allowed me to form a relationship of my own with it. I really love that part of my childhood.

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