Persona La Ave, “At Last”

Blake Gillespie

Released earlier this month, Persona La Ave’s Relation/Temptation EP romances the synthetic orchestrations that have been ingrained in our minds as ‘of the future’, since the invention of the instrument. With every passing year we honor the brave early explorers like Bruce Haack and Vince Clarke, either by unearthing their innovations or harkening back to them and continuing the conversation in new output. Persona La Ave, the moniker of Dylan Dawkins, operates in the latter.

On “At Last”, Dawkins’ nostalgia is alive, though distorted through the miracle (see also: technological advancement) of HD. When we look back upon the artistic direction of 80s videos, with age it ventures into ‘campy’, and for the “At Last” video the aesthetic is intended. The blurred lines between the artificial and organic are filmed as tricks on the eye, as the video attempts to fool our vision of mannequin versus man—to success if you don’t keep a sharp eye.

Read on for an interview with Dylan Dawkins on joining MJ MJ Records, pairing his music with spirits, and the methods behind the Relation/Temptation EP.

How did working with MJ MJ Records come about and the decision to re-release the Relation EP with a companion Temptation EP of new material on the flipside?

I met Andy, who runs MJ MJ, at FMLY Fest Brooklyn a few years ago. I was playing a showcase for the fest, no one there really knew who I was at the time other than a few people. The day after my set I was sitting on a porch at another fest event, and Andy sits down next to me and says “I wanna put out your music” and thats actually how it happened. I just never got around to hooking up with him for a tape for three years [laughs] but timing is everything. I had both sides of the tape finished, well Relation was the new “EP” that I really wanted to release.

We were throwing around ideas about a b-side, possibly remixes and other stuff. Then I believe Andy popped onto my soundcloud one day and listened to “Temptation” and had the idea of putting it on the b-side. Very straight forward stuff. I believe Andy is the best dude I’ve ever worked with on a release. He is super hard working and doest not bullshit around. Love the guy. Also, he has a hot tub in his bedroom.

If you were to pair each side with a specific beverage, what would they be? And why?

Relation is definitely the more sophisticated and laid back of the two, I believe. Would have to pair it with a minimal cocktail, probably an old fashioned. Something to sip on and really enjoy. Temptation is more of the party side, and much more loud. Just go to the liquor store and buy some cheap whiskey, sneak it into a bar where your friend’s band is playing, take shots straight out of the bottle and share it with everyone there.

To outsiders, Knoxville, TN seems like the last place one would expect an artist like yourself to hail from, and the same goes for Walsh or even Jensen Sportag in Nashville. Is Knoxville responsive to your music or is it made with escapism in mind?

I love Knoxville. I was actually invited to live here by Brandon Biondo aka WALSH and the mind behind many Knoxville acts. I never really thought of my music as being a way to escape Knoxville, but it certainly channels images that would be hard to find in Knoxville. I think we are all, as musicians and artists, inspired by different images or sounds that teleports the mind somewhere else. That’s part of the beauty of being inspired.

Knoxville has been very inspiring though. It’s filled with good, rare people who really care about music and what’s going on locally. The Pilot Light is definitely my favorite venue to play at, probably in the whole country. And having a place like that to play at and perform your music live is a very inspiring thing also. I feel like foremost, I make songs I know my friends want to hear me play, or have become used to the music I am expected to make. If I write a song or a hook and think “oh my friends would dig this” then I know it’s a keeper.

We’ve talked about bourbon amongst ourselves. What song on the cassette would you say best compliments a glass of bourbon, and is there a specific bourbon you have in mind in this pairing?

“Going Deaf” would work well with a nice bourbon. Nothing that would break your wallet though, probably a good go-to like Bulleit or Buffalo Trace. “Going Deaf” isn’t the most minimal song on the record, but it’s close to it. It has just enough bite to it as well.

Are the two EPs part of the same sessions? In terms of time frame, how are they connected? Or is was their complimentary nature discovered much later?

Temptation was recorded about two years ago, so I was in a very different mind-state then. Had a whole different process back then, as far as writing and recording goes. It has a completely different sound, it’s way more digital feeling. Relation was recorded very quickly in the late winter and spring this year. Since those were all recorded at the same time, it has a very fluid sound. I knew I wanted to make a series of EPs that were very funky, but as far as timing went with Relation/Temptation it all kind of fell into place. as soon as Relation was finished being recorded it was just kind of obvious that it was the second part.

The Relation/Temptation cassette is out now on MJ MJ Records.

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