Colouring Outside the Lines: Dallas Green at Bluesfest Byron Bay

Our writer Christie Ots caught up with Dallas Green of City and Colour fame to discuss his love for Australia, who he can’t wait to see at Byron Bay Bluesfest and whether or not he’s ready to hang up his musical hat.

In October 2015 Dallas released his fifth studio album under the moniker City and Colour, titled If I Should Go Before You. This, combined with his announcement that he would be once again returning to the shores of Australia for the Bluesfest Byron Bay, was enough to have us playing Woman on repeat. Before beginning his world tour at the end of 2015 Dallas was bunkering down with some friends in Nashville, TN to complete his most recent album. Given the bluesy nature of some of the tracks, we were curious as to whether the location had influenced the album at all. ‘I think the house we found, and the proximity to my friends in the band there, definitely contributed to the song writing,’ Dallas explains, ‘Not so much it being “music city” and all, but just the collective vibe that was felt in the house where we demoed everything – it was very palpable.’ Dallas is known for incorporating his musical friends into his tours and musical endeavors, and let’s not forget his previous work with band Alexisonfire.

He has successfully been releasing music for over a decade now as a solo artist, which has its own pressures for someone as humble as Dallas Green. ‘I put an inordinate amount of pressure on myself,’ he says, ‘which outweighs any sort of outside influence. However the experiences are a little different, just because I’m the “leader” of the project and I have to try to describe my vision to other people.’ This sense of self-criticism lends itself to his music, with many tracks seeming to encapsulate that moment of self-doubt we all feel and overcome throughout life; and is, in a way, the reason why Dallas’ music is often explained as being both light and dark simultaneously. ‘I’ve never sought out fame or recognition in a sense that I assumed I deserved it,’ Dallas explains, ‘I’ve just always wanted to write and sing songs for people. The fact that I’ve been able to do that for over half my life now fills me with tremendous gratitude. For me, there is no reason to feel any other way.’ It is this grounded quality that makes Dallas such a pleasure to interview, and this sincerity that the audience feels when watching him perform live. Having performed to sold out shows quite regularly in Australia, he definitely takes the stage to welcoming arms here.

‘I love Australia because its the farthest place I can physically be away from where I was born,’ Dallas says smiling, ‘It feels like home and that is something special. The people have been so kind to me that I just want to keep coming back.’ Dallas is performing around Australia in a series of sideshows to his set at Bluesfest Byron Bay this month, and he already has plans to catch D’Angelo’s set the night prior to his. Dallas caught media attention recently when he defended the inclusion of musician Kendrick Lamar in the Bluesfest line up. He has passionately spoken in favour of Kendrick’s listing on the bill and explained, ‘Most people are too openly opinionated without having the proper intelligence to back it up. Kendrick Lamar might be the most “blues” artist on the line up.’ While we agree with Dallas and his argument that most rap music is re-imagined blues, we can’t wait to see if this support leads to one of Bluesfest’s infamous on stage collaborations between these two musical mavens.

With such a busy touring schedule Dallas makes sure to keep himself surrounded by an unbelievably great bunch of people, but even so the urge to call it quits still resurfaces every now and then. ‘The thought occurs every other day,’ Dallas explains, ‘Sometimes I have bad shows, or bad days, and I just want to quit. Sometimes I see the musical landscape shift into basically a throw away culture and its disheartening. Then I have a wonderful moment on stage, or I hear a beautiful song, and I’m back.’ We are thankful for all of those moments that brings him back to creating truly beautiful music and can’t wait to see live the man who describes his dream dinner table as one filled with Sade, Son House, Tom Waits and Neil Young.

City and Colour hits Mojo stage on Friday 25 March at 8.30pm. Feature image by Dustin Rabin.

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