interview: Dinosoul

Pittsburgh's very own Dinosoul has officially released their debut full length. The stunning Eleven was released on April 27, 2018, and brought the band's sound to new heights, with a dazzling display of their synth-driven sound. The band was kind enough to answer a few questions from TGE via e-mail regarding the release, the future, and their favorite songs.

 photo:  Tom Bush IV

photo: Tom Bush IV

The Grey Estates: What about Dinosoul has changed or what have you learned from when you first made music in 2016 to now? Do you feel that you're still the same band or have you made changes and grown?

Donny & Carolyn (Dinosoul) : We have absolutely changed and are still evolving constantly. We started with just Carolyn and Donny, and then added Carolyn’s brother, Steve. We finalized the group as a 4 piece and now have a bass player making it a 5 piece. We have learned the ins and outs of recording. We tracked our album twice because we realized that tracking to a metronome was the best way especially since we are going to explore backtracking for certain tours. Each of our songs is almost a different genre so the mixing process was intense and interesting.  Some songs are electronic, some are pop, some are singer songwriter, and some are rock. Our new material that we are working on is strange...more melodic / poppy and heavier at the same time (you'll hear). We are growing and becoming more fluid as far as anything that would define us. The overall constant in our music is definitely putting out catchy songs. Donny was always focused on the songwriting first, however we have grown instrumentality and our musicianship has developed, which actually makes it harder to make a solid song. The other part of our music is to make sure we are emotionally involved in it. We write songs about our experiences with life and the concept of self-awareness. We have definitely grown personally, as a band and professionally as well working with distribution labels, a manager, an investor, and other people interested in our mus.
What is the significance of your album artwork and how does that represent your album/music?
The album artwork has become our theme. Gary Henzler Allen is the artist and a dear friend to us. He saw us perform before our first EP in 2016 at an art/music event. We really enjoyed his art and asked him to make us something for our EP. After listening to our songs and understanding our intention, he came up with the nautilus icon. The nautilus is a creature that has lived during the Jurassic "Dino" age over 200 million years ago. We believe that when we made our art, instead of making a literal dinosaur, he chose the nautilus, which is more mysterious and represents us as people and as a band. For this full album “Eleven”, we chose the colors Ultraviolet/purple because it is one of our favorite colors and is the color for 2018. Purple also represents connectedness.
How has Pittsburgh, if at all, influenced your sound? Or how have other bands from the city driven you towards a sound?
We think, if anything, Pittsburgh has pushed us to be different and stand out amongst the rock scene. Donny has always written simple, catchy tunes in her previous rock/grunge band but enjoyed exploring new sounds with Glenn (drummer) playing an e-kit and Carolyn, her partner, with airy, ethereal vocals and synth and keys. When we first started this band, we envisioned beautiful, spacious, melodic, unique, and intricate rock music that allowed us to explore both emotionally and instrumentally. We knew that was different for Pittsburgh and for us in general, especially Donny in her songwriting. We are able to be soft and vulnerable yet also heavier and have space to play unique sounds and leads. We think our new wave synth tunes are a different sound here in Pittsburgh. People always ask where we are from...
What's the theme or message of this album? When did you start writing and recording? What was the process like? Did you change or adjust anything along the way?
The theme and message of the album is self-awareness and connection. A lot of the songs represent self-wakening and human existence in general. There are parts where the lyrics are expressing hopelessness and suffering and then a response of comfort, intuition and knowing. It represents a lot of Donny’s and Carolyn’s relationship and also their relationships within themselves. They want to share these experiences and realizations with the world.
We started recording this version in September 2017 with Alex Herd. We recorded all of the tracks prior in April 2017, but had to re-record due to not tracking with a metronome.
We started writing this album in our living room with Riot, Dimension, Ocean, 4AM, Control, and No Way back in February of 2016. Those were all written on an acoustic drum kit. When Glenn joined our band in July of 2016, he introduced the electronic kit and we then converted all of those songs and continued to write the rest of the album on the e-kit which really re-established our sound.
We recorded our last track on the album, “It Never Goes Away”, as a studio track. We hope to have a different version of this song on each album moving forward!
What have you learned about the music you want to make from being in other bands or just from listening to other bands?
For Donny, she realized that she wants to express her softer, more heartfelt and serious side and be able to explore different melodies and tones with her guitar.
For Carolyn, this is her first band and she knew that she wanted to explore her love for 80’s synth songs and be able to sing beautiful music with her partner.
*What made you decide to form Dinosoul? And what are your hopes for the band going forward?

Carolyn and Donny decided to form Dinosoul when they both happened to be going through a spiritual awakening. Donny was in Dream Phone and Roulette Waves at the time. Both bands were breaking up. In general, Donny wanted to explore writing more intimate and experimental music. Carolyn, never being in a band but having a musical background, always wanted to sing but was so shy. Finally, one day they experimented and realize there was something special and wanted to see where it would take them. They presented it to the world with the intention to spread their realizations and struggles. The music has turned into a full blown band but never really expected anything other than to express our love and awakening through music. Now that the songs have structure and more definition, our hope is to connect with people and tour.
Is there any particular track on the album that you really love or that you feel is really representative of what you want the band to be?
We personally enjoy the song "Ocean". We think this tune highlights us as synthy, dark pop, which we intended to be. It's a very emotional song and has a unique structure and different tones as well as the instruments. "Garbage Truck" is our first single and definitely the synth pop hit. The beat driven "4am" is another direction we are exploring with new material. "Dimension" is our anthem song that sets the stage for live performances. "Riot", we believe, is a secret single that highlights our songwriting. Honestly, all of the tunes represent a different genre and experience. Our favorite tune, recording wise, was "It Never Goes Away" because we built it in the studio and really explored adding additional sounds and even iPhone recordings of waterfalls in Oregon and a radio buzz going through Pittsburgh’s Liberty tunnel.