Dinosoul is one of the most innovative teamings you’ll ever hear. The Pittsburgh band, currently featuring singer and guitarist Donny Donovan and singer and keyboardist Carolyn Hilliard, is a dark-synth indie band; the type that you rarely hear in the age of radio-friendly indie-pop. But the beginnings of Dinosoul extend back to the mutual chemistry shared between Donovan and Hilliard, two people who quickly developed a trusting relationship, both personally and musically. It’s not just a trust of each other that drives Dinosoul forward, it’s a trust of the universe at large. Behind the dark dynamics of the music is a message that urges listeners to trust the universe and everything that it brings along, not only the positive but also the negative. Trust also translates to having to embrace the pain when it comes, giving up the need to control, appreciating it when it comes and appreciating all that comes along as part of the shared journey that we are all on.
Dinosoul revealed to themselves with the 2018 debut Eleven, an album that featured a lot of musical diversity, including the moody call for help with “4 AM” and the more indie punk-flavoured “Garbage Truck.” This was the follow-up to the 2016 EP Dimension, with Eleven including a reworking of the EP’s title track. Well the past is the past and the present is the present, which brings us to Dinosoul’s brand new single and music video for “Let Me Go,” which you can found now via Bandcamp and Spotify.
The song’s lyrics are borderline manic, featuring a chorus that screams “don’t let me go” with a bridge that shouts “don’t let, let me go.” The writing of the song itself went in many different directions with the original being more of a plot-driven story. As the band themselves comment, “‘Let Me Go’ is an evolutionary experience through and through. Everything from the members of our band to the sound of our band, to the structure of this song and even the meaning of this song, has changed since initially bringing it into this world and it has morphed multiple times before finally releasing it as a single.”
Check out the artwork for “Let Me Go:”
Speaking of the video, the band elaborate further: “This video was not our initial vision for this song which, of course, would be no surprise given what this song has been through. Our initial vision was to have a thought out storyline but as it turns out, simplicity, movement and the beauty of dance had a different vision for this song. We think this song is so emotionally charged that it ultimately screamed for simplicity during times of angst, distress, and uncertainty which yielded the final product. It allowed for the dancers to share their own storyline and invites and allows the viewer/listener to ultimately create their own storyline too.”
“Let Me Go” marks just the beginning in the continued journey of music and life that Dinosoul are currently well into. Coming in only a couple of weeks from now will be the release of “Sorrow,” a song that will build further off of the brooding originality of “Let Me Go.” With such music momentum building up, the future looks bright for Dinosoul, which is why we felt the need to learn more about “Let Me Go” from both Donovan and Hilliard, along with the video’s director and editor!
First off, I love the name Dinosoul. It’s clever and I must admit, it gives me a bit of a chuckle to say in my mind. Who’s responsible for this epic name or how did you come up with it?
Donny Donovan and Carolyn Hilliard: “From the first time we came up with this name, it gave us a chuckle too and took a good week or two to take it seriously. But it stuck! When this music thing started to become more than just jamming, we (Donny and Carolyn) started to brainstorm names. For some reason around the same time when we were forming this band, dinosaurs were a big theme in our life and relationship. Little figurines just started popping up at the most random times especially when we needed a sign. Then, Donny got a haircut that resembled a stegosaurus to Carolyn so she started calling them, “Dino.” We knew that we had to have “dino” or “dinosaur” somehow in the band name but there were so many dinosaur band names, it was hard to come up with one.
We were also beginning a spiritual journey of healing and awareness around the same time. We were on a walk one day just brainstorming. Donny kept repeating “dino” and Carolyn said “soul” and we magically put it together and both blurted out “Dinosoul!” At first, we laughed pretty hard but deep down we knew it was it. As we thought and felt more into it, we realized that dino means “old” and “old soul” seemed very fitting for the vision of our music.”
Released on released April 27th, 2018, you’ve got to check out the killer album that is Eleven:
I must say, I also love your new track “Let Me Go.” It reminds me a lot of so much of the classic synth music from the 1980s. Take us behind the scenes of the writing of this song. How was it written, what was the process and what are some of the primary motivations behind the track?
Donovan and Hilliard: “Donny initially brought the guitar riff and vocal melody to Carolyn who started jamming and felt and wrote an ‘80s synth melody. We then took it to the other members to jam on and Donny relayed to the drummer, Glenn, to play a super new wave beat with sixteenth notes on the high hat to bring a danciness to it. This is when we were a four-piece and Carolyn’s brother (Steve) was the initial lead guitarist in the band. The structure of the song was very different back then and when Steve left we actually stopped playing this song for over a year. We revisited it when we found a new permanent lead guitar player and had them stick to Steve’s initial melodies but with their own twist. We restructured this song a couple of different times and the bridge was rewritten a few times also to get it to the feel that we envisioned, a dancy, upbeat, moody, emotional, new wave vibe.
The song is about moving energy, letting go and embracing change. We didn’t know it at the time of writing, but when we took a step back to breathe and actually listen and feel the finished product, we realized that it was an evolutionary experience. Everything from the members of our band to our sound, to the structure, and even the meaning of this song has changed since initially bringing it into this world. It’s morphed multiple times alongside our experiences before finally being released as a single.”
If you like upbeat indie and soccer then you’ll probably love Dinosoul’s video for “Garbage Truck” from Eleven:
The colour scheme and dynamics present in the music video for “Let Me Go” really complement the song very well. What was the initial vision behind the video and what was the shooting process like?
Director Steph Trainer and Editor Karl Nykwest: “We loved the way the song coupled dark wave and heavy synth sounds with an ethereal chorus laced throughout that created this beautiful, energetic dynamic of heaviness and lightness, which we wanted to match through color and shadow. When it came to shooting the band, we knew we wanted to light them heavily in blue and surround them in a dense atmosphere to achieve this. But outside that, we really wanted to use the city itself. There are little pockets of blue and red neon in various locations throughout downtown Pittsburgh and we used three of them as backdrops for our dancers. With each dancer getting their own hue of color, we basically used our city as the foundation for creating the color palette.”
The video for “Let Me Go” also features some very talented dancers in various dance sequences intermixed throughout. What were some of the reasons behind including the dance parts and not just making it a full performance-type music video?
Trainer and Nykwest: “Dinosoul had a very specific message they wanted to convey with this song and we knew that if we wanted the video to channel this message we had to be very careful about being too heavy-handed with it. One of our favorite things as filmmakers is collaborating with other artists from other disciplines and we thought the best way to articulate the essence of the song while matching its energy was to incorporate dance into it. We asked each dancer to choreograph their own interpretation of the song and shot them separately over the course of several nights. The dancers each brought a unique energy that they infused into the video that helped give it a raw energy that we could not have achieved without them.”
“Let Me Go” follows up the release of your 2018 debut album Eleven. Why did you feel it was a good time to release a single? Is this a sign that we can soon expect a follow-up to Eleven?
Donovan and Hilliard: “After a long journey of finding a new guitarist, we were excited to begin writing and recording again at the beginning of this year and felt it was time to release something with our new lineup. We released the single “Let Me Go” on April 27th (4/27) as a follow-up to Eleven. However, by the date of the 4/27 release, our band morphed once again. We became a two-piece (just Donny and Carolyn) as the drummer and guitarist were no longer able to be a part of the band. It’s been about six months since performing and writing as a two-piece and a lot of restructuring. This brings a whole new energy and experience with it and we are even more anxious to release our new sound and songs to the world..... so stay tuned!”