Breathe easy with Dillon

Brazilian-German songstress is on her way to Israel.

By JENNIFER GREENBERG
May 1, 2019 18:41
3 minute read.
Breathe easy with Dillon

DILLON: MY MUSIC is an extension of myself. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Dominique Dillon de Byington, known onstage as Dillon, is as nuanced as her cultural upbringing. Her family uprooted to Germany when the Brazilian-born singer was barely six years old, and it was in Berlin where the young, feisty talent developed her vulnerable, yet inexplicably inviting voice.

After the wildly successful release of her debut album in 2011, each of the singer-songwriter’s subsequent albums has one-upped the raw emotion and touch of despair that This Silence Kills contained. Her brand-new EP, When Breathing Feels Like Drowning, is no exception to the rule. It is a truthful compilation of some of her most painful past memories shared onstage, but never before in the studio.

In anticipation of her upcoming performance at The Barby, The Jerusalem Post asked Dillon how she broke out from YouTube sensation to the international sphere:

“It’s been a long ride since then,” she said. “My household was filled with music. I have yet to learn to read music or take a singing class, though.”

So music came naturally?

Writing was never a ‘passion’ of mine, nor would I call it that today. It is like brushing my teeth.

Would you say there are any Brazilian influences in your music?

My music is an extension of myself, so it is as if you are asking me whether my Brazilian background has translated into my arms or legs. I am Brazilian and I was raised in Germany. The things I have been taught, the people in my life and my experience on this Earth are what can be heard in my music. Some of it comes from Brazil, some from Berlin and some from the gas station.

Have you ever considered singing in Portuguese or German instead of English? Especially since you are drawing on memories that you must recall in your native tongue.

Working in English was a necessity, not an artistic choice. From the age of 11, I went to a British school, so I learned and thought in English. By the time I started writing music, it was the language I felt the freest in. I love Portuguese as well as German, but I can’t quite move with as much precision as I would like to in those languages.

Can you tell me about your creative approach when writing a new song?

I don’t have a routine of any sort. It can be a conversation with someone that triggers something or perhaps I am on the piano and a chord moves me. After my nervous breakdown, my mind couldn’t function, I also couldn’t write. I had to fall apart and slowly start putting myself back together with water, glue and old newspaper.

And the new EP is the finished papier-mâché piece?

When Breathing Feels like Drowning is open for interpretation. For me, an album or EP title is always a suggestion. It is an introduction to what it contains – a mood. Writing ‘RIP Beth’ is what made me want to release these songs together. It put me in a mood that I could not get out of until I finished the EP. Lyrically speaking, my work is a monologue. It is me talking to myself.

What prompted you to strip down the opening song (‘Precious’) and the album as a whole to embody this more acoustic piano feel?


I find the minimalist lyrics in ‘Precious’ to be quite powerful. It was an organic decision to start the EP with them. Additionally, this is a late-night EP, so I felt comfortable embracing the piano in its full beauty.

Your upcoming tour is a solo one as well, eh?

Yes. Playing alone is a big change to what I have been doing the last few years. I am looking forward to this change as well as playing in places that I haven’t played in before.

You tackle a lot of serious issues in both tone and content in these shows. Is it mentally taxing to tap into these emotions at every show?

This album isn’t about hope or optimism. It is about being at peace with pain, which is what I want to come across. I see more and more people opening up about all kinds of issues on a daily basis. The stigmatization and marginalization of people with different issues can only be diminished by creating awareness.

Dillon will perform on Thursday, May 9, at The Barby in Tel Aviv. For tickets or more information, call 03-5188123 or visit barby.co.il.


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