Dijon’s Acts of Romanticism

Los Angeles-based, Baltimore-raised artist Dijon is capturing the hearts, minds and souls of the new hopeless romantic generation with his tender ballads and smile full of gold.

With the rise of the bedroom popstar taking over the airwaves over the years, it can be hard to differentiate what is genuine artistry and what is a passing trend. When it comes to Dijon, he isn’t a bedroom pop star, he is simply an artist that crafts and produces vulnerable and tender tracks in his bedroom because that’s where he feels safe pouring his soul into his work.

 

Dijon’s first body of work, Sci Fi 1, is a prolific and poetic collection of thoughts that take you through a diary-like journey of Dijon’s heart, particularly his acts of romanticism. With a signature Lo-Fi warmth to his production, it’s Dijon’s words and voice that grab you by the hand through the stories he wishes to tell you. Weavering from harmonising softly on tracks like ‘TV Blues’ to almost pleading-like runs on ‘Drunk’, his voice’s ability to transform the emotions he wants to convey harkens back to a combination of Jeff Buckley and Sade.

 

Ultimately, Dijon is an artist in the truest sense with his talents spilling into many mediums that forbid him being trapped into a box. The world Dijon has crafted from his mind and bedroom encompasses not only the words and production of his tracks but the visual world surrounding him. Watching and listening to anything by Dijon feels like catching up with an old friend at the pub who you haven’t seen in years and you listen to each other’s tales and anecdotes of fallen lovers.

 

When I call Dijon late on a winter’s night it’s clear that there is no difference between the poet and the man himself. There’s a calmness to his tone that resonates with anyone who enjoys solitude, even a little too much, and we immediately jump into the deep end with all things romance, tenderness, poetry and our love for queen Joni Mitchell.

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“I think that’s just what the project is”, Dijon opens up to me about Sci Fi 1, “it’s an exploration of smashing ideas together. It’s a slow-growing thing where I slowly start to understand more about my voice, about voices generally, about writing and what makes a certain artists’ writing their own. I think that it’s a real-time exploration of that. Every song I’ve ever made, for better or worse, has pretty much been just the music that I’ve had at that time, so it becomes this living exhibition of myself which is pretty frustrating at times because my idea of where I can make my music go is not always necessarily where I am skill-wise at the time.” Referring back to how listening to Dijon feels almost like intruding into someone’s diary, for Dijon it appears to be about honouring moments and relationships by subconsciously logging them in song.

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Without the judgement of hindsight, Dijon’s creative process revolves around locking himself away and just letting the words flow, spill and pour honestly as they do in that present moment. “I do think that that is probably the most fascinating way to make music for myself,” Dijon tells me, “I think this disciplinary action to force yourself to put yourself out there without overthinking, which I would probably have the tendency to do if I had more of a love for sitting for a long time. I mean I would love to, if a project gets a little more nuanced and finds its footing, I would love to just take more time and challenge myself to develop something more cohesive and something that requires more thought, something that required a little bit more meditation. But, as of right now I’d be fine with the sort of excitement and how content just releasing music is without a routine. Which has something hilarious and sort of perverse about it but will probably be the way I operate for a long time.”

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Despite Dijon’s methods being almost freeing in a sense when it comes to the traditional way to produce and release music, his craftsmanship behind his lyrics and stanzas takes the most time for Dijon due to the exceedingly high expectations he has set for himself. Being a lover of words, Dijon tells me “I have conscious lucid goals for how I want to write and what I want to write, but it takes me longer as I don’t really have the background as a songwriter. I studied literature, that’s what I studied in college and have my degree in, so I have this sort of bar that I accidentally set for myself as a person because I made so much music before that was freestyle-based that my writing is actually the last thing that happens and is the thing that holds up my music.”

 

However, there’s also a method behind letting the melodies come first and the words come last as Dijon reveals, “I save it because it’s the most important part for me but also the most elusive – I’m not a constant prolific writer but I would like to be. I think to try and balance everything – I have very specific goals that I’d like to accomplish when it comes to writing. I don’t like flowery language, especially in music. I find music is a functional vessel for me, even if it’s challenging or expressive, it is a functional vessel, it’s not a space where I want to overdo it, you know? So yeah it’s a hard fucking thing writing.”

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When it comes to the business of creating sonically emotive and heavy tracks, Dijon is somewhat a master. Maybe it’s in the makeup of his DNA to gravitate towards life’s bleaker and lonelier topics. “That’s just how I grew up,” Dijon tells me, “reading books that I love were always just sad. I think at that time I was really obsessed with Raymond Carver, his short stories were pretty intense and very matter of fact, but they were always elated to something very very sad. I think that’s just where I am struggling with something right now, I find that to be really great there should be multiple dimensions of how you approach things emotionally and I think that I worked very heavily in angsty ways but I don’t want my music to always be that way.”

 

Upon reflection, it’s clear that even the poets can fun too. Exploring the relationship between sadness and humour is something Dijon is working on that aims to give himself a break as giving away parts of your heart within his music and live performances are going to be taxing to the strongest of us. “‘CRYBABY :*(‘ for me was actually really funny,” Dijon opens up, “I think that was my first intentional loosening up the process and being less precious about the labour behind writing and making something that was actually quite expressive and funny. However, some of the meanings I’m dealing with are a lot more tender and I think that’s something I want to explore, something sweeter, that’s not always so melancholic without it being like giant rays of sunshine because I don’t think that would mix well. I mean, Joni Mitchell does it so well – she’s my favourite of all time, and she’s so fucking funny.”

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With more music inherently on the way as Dijon sticks to his guns and his own method of creating music, there only seems to be greatness on the horizon. I don’t think Dijon planned for things to go this way – he lets me know that there was a lot to get used to and that “I feel like I’ve never connected to live shows. My friend Henry who plays with me says it’s because I’ve never seen great live shows and I do believe that that could be true, but I’ve never really connected to live shows anyways so it feels strange to perform just for performance’s sake. Maybe it’s because I still need to get used to it.”

 

For Dijon and the rollercoaster of having your most intimate and personal tracks garner millions of listens, the hardest part for himself was trusting in his talent, surprisingly. Upon reflection of a hugely successful 2019, Dijon tells me, “the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself was, for better or for worse, is that you don’t have to be defined by what you do and what you create. I’m a musician and I know it sounds silly but that’s what I do, it’s kinda nice to say that now, it feels better than what it used to feel like.” As Dijon settles into to becoming one of the best storytellers of the online generation, we can’t wait to get into our feelings whilst also being able to laugh back at the times we thought we would never make it out of.

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