10 at 10 Spotlight: Dion Lynch [Interview]
Calgary, AB – Every month, we link up with the fam over at 10 at 10 Hip-Hop Showcase to spotlight one of our favourite performers from the showcase. This month, we caught up with up-and-coming 19-year-old MC, Dion Lynch. You may know Dion as Calgary’s A$AP Rocky—at least, that’s what some of us refer to him as. He’s got the hair and the look going for him. But Dion’s jams have a heavier focus on lyricism. He’s less inclined to crank out a trapped-up banger. But his tracks run deep.
HipHopCanada caught up with Lynch to chat about the 10 at 10 experience, the importance of oldies rock music, his thoughts on the recent Care Package project by Obey the Crooks, and more. Cool fun fact: Dion and the dudes from Obey the Crooks all took the same audio engineering course at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary.
“As I’m growing [and] my music is growing, I feel like everything around me with hip-hop is growing.” – Dion Lynch
Lynch hit the stage at Commonwealth Bar & Stage on Dec. 4, and rocked the mic with solid lyricism and killer stage presence. Lynch recently launched his L.N.S.D Vol 2 mixtape, and is gearing up to drop his completed final L.N.S.D project in the new year – potentially in January. If we’re lucky.
Dion Lynch: Q&A
Interview conducted by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: So starting off: first time you ever fell in love with hip-hop or music?
Dion Lynch: I first started off breakdancing, and all that, back when I was a little kid. That’s what really got me into it. Then [I got into] music in Grade 10. k-os was a big influence back when I was a kid.
HipHopCanada: Joyful Rebellion?
Dion Lynch: Yeah. Everything about k-os. He’s just a crazy artist. I went and saw him at Republik [last year]. That was one of the best hip-hop concerts.
HipHopCanada: What’s your own personal definition of hip-hop and how do you feel you fit into that?
Dion Lynch: Hip-hop is more introspection: finding out more about yourself, and just digging deeper [and] not talking about the clichés. There’re a lot of rappers in Calgary or Canada, but I’m trying to make music [and] hip-hop, and dig a little deeper than what’s on the surface.
HipHopCanada: What are your thoughts on Calgary’s hip-hop scene?
Dion Lynch: We have good artists, but a lot of them sound the same. Not that they’re bad. But it’s hard to get noticed when you sound like everyone else. I think we have some good artists. Like Obey the Crooks. They’re pretty talented guys. [And] Ayoo Angie.
HipHopCanada: What’d you think of [Obey the Crooks’ latest project] Care Package?
Dion Lynch: Care Package was sick. When I was going to school with them, they were working on the beats. So I was already listening to some of the stuff. They definitely killed that. The music video they did with [A.Y.E. for "Third Eye"]– that was a sick music video.
HipHopCanada: If you could have your dream pick, on a global-scale, which hip-hop artist would you work with?
Dion Lynch: It’d be nice to work with KiD CuDi. He’s just so melodic. Everything he does is way off the scale. Kanye would be nice— just to learn from Kanye [and] the way he listens to music or studies it. The way he works on music is crazy. Big K.R.I.T. is another guy. KiD CuDi and Big K.R.I.T. on a track with me would be pretty dope.
HipHopCanada: No doubt. Now let’s talk about A$AP Rocky. Because I know you get this a lot, but you look like him.
Dion Lynch: A$AP Rocky—he’s sick. I don’t listen to him on a daily basis, or anything. I think he’s good for swag rap. If I’m going to go to a party or something, he’s sick. People have told me I look like him, before. I remind people of him. I don’t know. I don’t see it.
HipHopCanada: Fair enough. So how did you prepare for your 10 at 10 performance?
Dion Lynch: I honestly didn’t. The tracks are in my head because [they’re] on my mixtape and I was constantly working on that. I was sick for at least a week [beforehand] and getting on to the stage, I was borderline between sick and not-sick.
HipHopCanada: What was the experience like, for you?
Dion Lynch: The crowd could have been a bit more responsive. But that’s like at any show you go to. There’re the hip-hop heads you can see in the crowd that are actually jamming out, but a lot of people just stand there. I guess that’s my job—to try and get people excited. [And] honestly, Calgary is not a bad city. It’s a nice city to live in. As I’m growing [and] my music is growing, I feel like everything around me with hip-hop is growing. Things like 10 at 10 is helping [to] give people a voice.
HipHopCanada: I wanted to ask you about that line in your track “Ride Out” where you referred to yourself as the black Bob Dylan.
Dion Lynch: It was like, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” Plus, my mom is white and my dad is black. I live with my mom and my step-dad. And all they play in my house is old-school rock. I’ve grown up to The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Supertramp. Just so much rock influence. I try to put that into my music. Old-school rock has more of a lyrical influence on me. [With] hip-hop I always hear the same stuff. But when I listen to another genre, something they say just sort of sparks my mind.
HipHopCanada: So what’s the end goal, for yourself, as an artist?
Dion Lynch: Definitely not to climax in Calgary. I see all of these artists and it’s cool that they’re opening up for artists. I like that. But I honestly want to be an artist that has people opening up for me. I want to be able to travel around and actually perform my music. And not just [perform] to the same crowd.
HipHopCanada: And what steps do you think you have to take to get yourself to that place?
Dion Lynch: My plan is to get more people to know about me in Calgary – to build a base here – and then constantly just venture out. I’m thinking [this] summer I’m just going to take all of the money I have and just go. I don’t know where I’m going to go. Just meet new people, and all of that, [and] see where it takes me.
HipHopCanada: What are some of the roadblocks you’ve had and how have you surpassed them?
Dion Lynch: Because [I’m] from Canada, people don’t take [me] as seriously. So that’s hard. I saw that article VICE wrote about Calgary hip-hop, and all this. There’s those people that just push us down. But if Drake, k-os, The Rascalz, [and] all these artists did it, why can’t I do it? I like smooth vibes. I’m not so much into bangers. Everyone that touched the stage at 10 at 10 had that turn-up-bass music. I’m into it, but when I make music I don’t really make it like that. I think it’s harder for people to connect with me. It’s not something you can just keep bobbing your head to. I need to figure out how to make music that people can relate to but still jam out to. KiD CuDi has mastered that. He’s just got the nice vibe that everyone can relate to. That’s a goal I’m going for.
HipHopCanada: What have been some of the successes you’ve had so far?
Dion Lynch: Doing this interview. Stuff like this gets me excited like crazy – just to know that people are actually messing with my shit makes me feel good.
HipHopCanada: What upcoming projects or shows do you have in the works?
Dion Lynch: L.N.S.D. That’s dropping. The whole thing. I have to record one more song and then I’m going to send it to this guy called MixedByMike. And then he’s just going to touch it up. He’s the second ear. Then I’ll drop it. When you put out a full mixtape, people don’t really listen to all of it. So my plan was to put out Vol. 1 so people would listen to those three songs [and] Vol. 2 so people would listen to those four songs. And then I’ll just release the full thing. It’s a different way to give it to people. I’ve been working on L.N.S.D since 2012 and it just been taking forever. And I just want to have it all out there. So the next project will probably just be a quick thing. Doing 10 at 10 inspired me to make better music.
HipHopCanada: Any last words you want to share with the HipHopCanada community?
Dion Lynch: Check out my mixtape when I drop it. The whole thing was produced by David Torre$. He just makes the craziest beats. I know other people that make beats. But he makes the best.
Make sure you check out Dion Lynch on Twitter, SoundCloud and Instagram. And keep up on all things 10 at 10 via Facebook and Twitter. The 10 at 10 team has some crazy announcements coming at you this year. So make sure you keep it locked. Things are about to get real.
Interview and photography by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada