Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Tilian

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Tilian over Zoom video! 

Tilian is ready to start anew. The Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer has been an unstoppable force in the alt-rock scene since 2007, a master of memorable melodies and more experimental flourishes, both in his solo efforts and as the lead vocalist and guitarist for a number of bands. But 2021’s Factory Reset, his fourth solo album and second on Rise Records, is more him than anything he’s ever done before. This is the first time Tilian’s tackled nearly every aspect of the record himself, and it’s resulted in his most thrillingly eclectic work to date: a falsetto-laced brand of alt-pop that spans everything from trippy psychedelia and heavy prog riffs to warped hip-hop beats and dembow grooves.

“The first album that I did with this project was not quite me,” he admits about 2013’s Material Me. “Now I want to make the album that I want to hear. ‘What would be my favorite band?’ as opposed to, ‘What is everyone’s favorite band?’” This philosophy started to take shape with his previous release, 2018’s The Skeptic. Now, with Factory Reset, he’s fully realized it. The writing came rather unexpectedly. Tilian began putting words down just a few weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic forced California to go into lockdown, in March 2020. He had planned on touring with his band Dance Gavin Dance, until—like the rest of us—he was stuck at home. And more to the point, he was alone. The Clearwater, Florida, native has always worked as a part of a larger unit since forming his first band in Tampa in 2007. Even as a solo artist he frequently collaborates, most recently with Marigolds+Monsters and Travis Barker on 2020’s “Falling Out of Rhythm” single.

But in forced isolation, the songs began to flow. He decided to write, record, and produce the album himself, eventually remotely bringing in drummer/frequent collaborator Kris Crummett to help button it up. Having full creative control allowed Tilian to experiment more than ever.

This maverick mindset colors Tilian’s reflections on his 2020 experiences—including meditative trips to the desert, life-changing psychedelic revelations, and an unsettling amount of death all around him. Religious, otherworldly, and metaphysical imagery pepper his lyrics, fueling both the heavy moments and a sudden sense of light and purpose that arrives toward the end. Factory Reset is both highly personal and wholly universal—who wouldn’t want to press restart on everything at this point?

We want to hear from you! Please email [email protected].

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