We spoke with Dylan Golden Aycock about his new album Church of Level Track and his record label Scissor Tail Records.
You're currently living in Tulsa. Were you raised there? How has your time spent there impacted your creativity and songwriting?
I love Tulsa. It's a great place for artists because it's so cheap to live here and it affords you time and space to create. There's also a lot of great music coming out of here.
Church of Level Track came out last year. What was the process for bringing that album and the songs together?
This one took a bit longer to say it was done. Most of the albums I've recorded in the past have been mostly improvised. This one I took more time adding layers and got back into producing which is what I started out doing when I first got interested in music.
You're the chief operator at Scissor Tail Records who have put out some great stuff, if I might add. Church of Level Track was released on your own label. What kind of challenges or benefits does self-releasing impose? Does it take stress away from the process or add an element that might not exist releasing on a major label?
I like releasing on other labels as well as self-releasing. Hopefully the label won't ever turn into an outlet for vanity projects. But at the same time I don't mind when other people start labels to self-release because sometimes you just have too much material and you gotta share it somehow. I just like making new connections with other labels and relieving some of the creative freedom. Church of Level Track is a good example of why you shouldn't self release simply because it took me three years to finally settle on the audio and artwork. I tend to be more picky with visual art. Getting to do a bulk of the art for Scissor Tail was one of the attractions to starting a label
Who are some folk guitarists you admire or listened to while you were learning the instrument? How did you hone in on playing this style of guitar?
I listened to a lot of Nick Drake, Peter Walker, Suni McGrath, Bibio, The Books, Daniel Lanois, Bill Frisell, William Tyler. I got started a little late (2011) so many of the folks I listened to are still around; C Joynes, Bronze Horse, Daniel Bachman, James Blackshaw...
It's always fascinating to me what artists are still able to say with an instrumental album. Do you see this is an inspiring and positive album or something that should evoke more solemn feelings? How do you digest this album?
I love instrumental music of all kinds. Sometimes I get bored with hearing the same stories rehashed in songs so instrumental music takes the individual out and makes it more accessible to everyone and harder to judge. I do love a lot of old and new songwriters. I've been obsessed with Stephen Steinbrink's songwriting. It's unlike anyone I've ever heard. He injects a lot of modern stuff into his lyrics. He has a song about heartbreak like everyone else except there's a lyric in there talking about checking your email in a dream. He's able to pull off something like that with sincerity.
How is Church of Level Track different from your other works?
My other solo project Talk West is mostly based around pedal steel guitar and electric guitar. The Church of Level Track album is mostly acoustic with electric and pedal steel accompaniment. There's also some older experimental electronic projects (The Doldrums, Mohawk Park, Angel Food, Youth Worship).
What was the recording process like? Was it recorded with friends or did you play most or all of the instruments on the album? What was your main objective during the production of the record?
I tend to work slowly by myself and just record all the instruments on my own unless it's an improvisational deal, then I like to collaborate. I like to collaborate in general but for Church of Level Track I took so much time working on it that I just did it all myself except one track my brother played on.
What does 2017 have in store for DGA and Scissor Tail Records?
So far just this one big tribute album for Bruce Langhorne. It's got a ton of guitar guys and gals on it; Steve Gunn, John Fahey, Lee Ranaldo, Susan Alcorn, Daniel Bachman, Nathan Bowles, Wes Tirey, Lake Mary - about 30 other people. I think I'm going to be touring more in 2017 so I'm probably not going to put out a lot of stuff on the label this year because it's pretty time-consuming. I'm excited to finally get out and share some of this stuff