Dylan Flashner is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, actor, and producer from Boston, Massachusetts who dreams of making a positive impact in the world through the art he creates. His undeniable passion for music inspired him to make the big move to Los Angeles to learn the ropes of the industry. Forging a path as a creative in a competitive industry is not for the faint of heart, but Flashner was able to make a name for himself not only in the music industry but also in the world of film and TV.
He is an unstoppable force who has worked with industry veterans such as Morgan Freeman, Ruby Rose, Patrick Muldoon in Vanquish, Oscar Isaac in The Card Counter, and is a producer on Monstrous, an upcoming Horror Film starring Christina Ricci. Not to mention, he has also released a new single entitled “Bad Habits.”
How did you start your career in the entertainment industry? Can you tell us a brief background of yourself and your journey?
I started writing music and recording in college at Chapman University. I did a music video for one of my songs and was discovered by a producer in movies and television who casted me in a pilot. I’ve been acting ever since.
What inspired you to become a singer-songwriter and an actor? Which songs, musicians, films, and actors have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
I think I’ve always wanted to entertain, even as a little kid. I was inspired by athletes when I was younger and as I grew older I was inspired by musicians and actors. One of my biggest musical influence is Drake and on the acting side it was Robert De Niro.
What was the first project you worked on? Can you walk us through the process of preparing for the role?
The first project I ever worked on, other than the pilot I did early on, was a movie called The Comeback Trail. It should be released later this year and I got to work with one of my all-time favorite actors Tommy Lee Jones. I worked on the role with my acting coach for days before we filmed. I just remember being extremely nervous and anxious before filming as my experience was low at the time. It all worked out luckily, but it was a great first test for me.
What were the challenges and breakthroughs you’ve encountered along the way, and how did you overcome it? What was your biggest takeaway from your first experience working as a professional?
The biggest challenge was truthfully not knowing how to act before I acted. I tend to like jumping into new experiences and taking a leap of faith. For me, that the best way of learning, [is] through experience. The takeaway is always that you’re more than capable and sometimes it just takes time to get better at your craft.
How do you balance your career as a songwriter and as an actor? Do you prefer one over the other?
The balance can be difficult at times, but thankfully I receive a ton of help from close ones and my team. The constant support helps me get thru the work load whenever it seems to be a lot. I’m focused on acting at the moment, but love both with a passion.
Can you tell us about the culture of the music industry? What are some of the biggest challenges that amateur songwriters experience early on in their careers? How can we change the culture and the power dynamics to ensure a positive environment in the industry?
There’s a lot of obstacles in any industry and obviously the music industry is no different. I think exposure is the toughest part for young songwriters and finding your lane can be a challenge. My advice is to always follow your heart and gut. Being yourself and doing it for the right reasons I think is a way to challenge the power dynamics. If you love something you’ll do anything to succeed at it.
Can you give us an overview of the songwriting process? What is your particular process or style?
My songwriting process formed from years of watching other artists do their thing. I’ve been fortunate enough to see people from many cultures and places do art. Seeing that, I realized everyone has their own style. For me, I need a beat and a subject. The rest comes semi-naturally and I think that’s how music should be, as organic as possible.
I think songwriters look for producers who understand their style and equal their passion for music. It’s like any other collaborative activity, chemistry is essential. The producers I work with I consider friends of mine and that relationship tends to come out in the final product.
How can producers help songwriters improve their craft? Are there specific ways that they can do to serve you better as an artist?
Producers are extremely important for the final product. In all honesty, they’re the backbone to the music. They can hear things you can’t, change up your sound into something unimaginable. The abilities of some of these producers are scary. Some producers I work with can just do it all and it’s amazing to see how they can change the final product so drastically.
As a musician, what are the most important tools that you should have? How do you stay up to date with the latest trends, software, and techniques?
The most important tool you can have is your brain. The power of knowledge and positivity go a long way in music. In terms of trends, software, and techniques I think collaboration with other artists helps you see what’s out there. The producers I work with are always up to date and usually that’s because they are aware of what others work with and are working on at that current moment. It’s all about studying the game you’re playing.
Can you tell us some of the recent projects you’ve worked on? What’s the best way for aspiring songwriters and actors to find projects and people to collaborate with?
I’ve been filming a few movies lately and working on my first music project in my free time! I’ve been very lucky to have opportunities where many previous productions hire me again or tell another production about me. The best way to collaborate in music is to ask or reach out. In acting it’s a bit more difficult, sometimes you need an agent or someone to go to bat for you. A lot of artists are starting to curate their own art, which I ultimately feel is the best way to be proactive.
Is it encouraged for a songwriter to have a demo? If so, what kind of samples should it include? Are there particular source materials you could recommend that aspiring songwriters should use to improve their craft?
I think demo tapes are a bit of a thing of the past. It’s more about singles and smaller projects in the industry at the moment. The attention span is low and you have to constantly have something new to showcase. If you’re a new artist, starting with a couple songs and releasing them one by one would be my strategy.
What do you think the future of the music industry would look like? What kind of genre do you think will emerge and capture the attention of producers and executives?
The music industry is ever changing and I think it cycles back and forth. Rap and Hip-Hop is the biggest genre in the world, but we are seeing certain rock styles coming back too. This emotional rap scene is growing and I think artists that aren’t afraid to experiment with their voices are emerging. Just being different from the pack is the wave for the future and the now.
What’s your advice to aspiring songwriters and creative professionals who want to break into the industry?
My advice for those trying to break in is to stay patient. Nothing happens overnight and steady wins the race. You have to start out somewhere and no matter where you start, just continue to build off of that. Whether that is a short film, a single for music, or even a student film, anything can help the momentum begin.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as an artist? What’s next for you?
I hope one day people look back at the work I’m doing fondly and are inspired by it. I put my everything into my art and if someone out there sees that, that’s enough for me. I have a movie coming into theaters on September 10th called The Card Counter. I’m also blessed enough to be booked for the rest of the year with movies so I’m just grateful and happy to be doing what I love.