The Sweetheart Series: Ylva & Dylan
In the Sweetheart Series, we're giving artist interview control to the people who (probably should) know them best: their partners. The questions are up to them and we won't edit anything that's said in the interview. We're hoping this brings out a more intimate, interesting interview and, who knows, maybe they'll learn something they didn't know about their partner.(Note from our lawyer: Distinction Music Management is not liable for any break ups that result from the Sweetheart Series)
The artist: Dylan Berry of Nauticult The partner: Ylva Elhammer Time together: 7 months How they met: I was working at a café in lower Queen Anne and Dylan would come in occasionally since he worked down the street at Mcmenamin’s at the time. We both got a little flustered the first time we chatted because there was a pretty instant/intense mutual attraction. I referred to Dylan as my “crushtomer” and one day, my coworker chatted with him about hip hop music and Nauticult. She found him on social media and encouraged me to send him a message and ask him out. So I did!
Ylva Elhammer is a non-binary/genderqueer/Swedish human who moved to Seattle from Chicago about three years ago. They are a visual artist, veterinary assistant, vegan, glitter enthusiast, and parent to a pup named Spaghetti.
Nauticult are a three-piece experimental hip hop group made up of vocalist Austin Sankey, guitarist Dylan Berry, and drummer Evan Fitzgerald. KEXP said of the trio, "The experimental psychedelic thrash rap group’s performance is tight and they regularly bring the most people of any band on the bill of the shows they play...the three put on raucous and engaging shows that leave you breathless and possibly bloodied." Nauticult is kicking off their two week West Coast tour with a show at Portland house venue The Rabbit Hole this Friday, October 6th.
Ylva: What is the origin story of Nauticult? Dylan: I was at a house show in Northgate, where Psychedelephant (that my buddy Evan was in) was playing. Around that time, I was really getting into hip hop and collecting a bunch of vinyl. (Evan and I lived in the same house) And we (and other friends) would just hang out in my room, spin vinyl and rap for hours. Anyway, at this show we started up a cipher and a couple of the dudes invited Austin (who I didn’t really know yet) to come into the circle. He had on pink women’s basketball jersey and crazy hot pink hair. He stepped in and just started rifling off some crazy shit. After that night I started seeing Austin around a lot. At one point he said to me, “hey man, we’re gonna be best friends. We don’t have the time right now, but it’s gonna happen.” Shortly after that he released his first album under his name Argonaut. I listened to it alone in my bedroom with headphones and thought, “this is the craziest MC I’ve ever heard.” And I think we (Evan and I) knew at that point that this was the dude we wanted to collaborate with. Y: Tell the Busta Rhymes part. D: Oh yeah! It was the night of my birthday party. I had an amp set up that night and Evan had his electronic drum set. I wanted Austin to perform his Argonaut stuff. Evan and I were jamming to the instrumental from Busta Rhymes’ “Touch It” and then all of sudden Austin just jumped in and started doing his thing over our jamming. Our friend Jeff took a snapchat of it, and the next day he sent it to me and we were like, “whoa. There’s definitely something here.” That was our initial spark. Y: What’s the story behind the name Nauticult? D: Well, because Austin goes by Argonaut, I think it came as sort of a natural progression. It’s cool because it’s got the triple entendre of like, “not a cult”, “naughty cult”, and “Nauticult”, like a cult of the sea. Our sound kind of has these heavy, washing, psychedelic overtones…waves. Really wet. Really drenched in effects. Wetness. Y: The three of you (in the band) all live together now. Do you think that helps with your creative process? What is your creative process like? D: Well, a lot of MCs will have their music and kind of write their raps over that, I think Austin pretty much does it that way. Evan and I will get together and work on instrumentals with all these weird noises and kind of piece together things. ‘Us living together allows us to coalesce and figure things out. It’s convenient. It works really well. Y: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be? D: It would be nuts to collaborate with the guys of clipping. Just because they’re really noisy and got all these ways of making their sounds and it’s really gnarly how they do that. Also it would be really cool to make an instrumental track with the band Zen Mother. Y: Earlier we were talking about metaphors for our brains, and you said that Austin’s brain is like a mixed media piece, or a collage. Do you have a metaphor for you guys’ collective brain, as a band? D: …That’s a really good question. Our brain, collectively…it’s very ethereal. We all pull our inspiration from different sources. Evan’s like the Earth, and I’m like the moon, and Austin’s like….a fucking alien. Our collective brain is like…hitting a timpani drum with a light saber and then like, throwing it out into orbit. Y: …Where there’s a laser show in a space station? *We were interviewing in a forest and Spaghetti was eating mosquitoes out of the air* D: It’s like a dog eating mosquitoes in outer space and the dog is made out of lasers. Y: You’re going on your first tour next month! What would you say you’re looking forward to most on tour? D: I’m stoked to be in cities I’ve never been to before. I’m stoked to see these different artist spaces, different bands, different scenes….It’ll be crazy going into a space where no one knows you, and no one knows what you’re about to bring to the table. That’ll be electric. Y: Listening to Phantom Limb (Nauticult’s first album), I feel like there are a lot of really intense themes and emotions exhibited in the lyrics. As a non-binary femme who has struggled with identity for most of my life, lyrics such as “everything in life hurts/this is the dysphoria/the body horror…” (Ocean Trench) really resonate with me. I’m also very fascinated by the lyrics suggesting violence toward rapists and rape apologists, etc. Do lyrics like these originate from personal and/or combined experiences? D: Austin will often take pieces of our conversations and work them into a song. The lyrics are kind of a melting pot of our separate and combined experiences. He’s good at taking in many things and being absorbent (thus the collage-brain metaphor). It’s interesting, the theme of the phantom limb; of having lost a limb but feeling as though something is still there. This can serve as a metaphor for addiction, religion, and/or various things that we disconnect from. Some of the lyrics are inspired by my own lyrical/poetical style (Dylan also has a rap album called “Sleep, Façade, Mirage” under the name Dubious), which is very dreamy and esoteric. We’ve talked a lot about lucid dreaming, different dimensions, philosophy, poetic language, mythos, the occult, etc. I think he is inspired by those things and is not afraid to delve into the deep and dark stuff. I would say a lot of it is his brainchild, but we all influence and inspire each other. Y: What do you most want listeners to feel or experience when they listen to Nauticult? D: I want people to feel like they’re being taken out into orbit…to a different, otherworldly place. And like, their psyche is just shattered into a hundred fucking pieces and restructured. I want them to be transported to a place they’re unfamiliar with, but at the same time be exhilarated and feel the energy from what we do. Y: I think that’s pretty much all I have. We did it! Catch Nauticult on their regional tour in October! D: Yay! *Both high-five*