Dylan Conrique has certainly dealt with her fair share of online bullying. “It’s hard growing up in that world,” she says. “It gets to you really easily when you’re younger, and you don’t know how to throw that stuff away and not keep it in your mind.”
With her new song “Advice from the Internet,” produced by Jack and Joe Harvey, of indie-pop band Clay, Conrique laments the internet’s tangle of emotions, while also navigating the aftermath of a breakup and crushing loneliness. Oh, I took advice from the internet / Turns out I should be dead, she sings, fixating on online vitriol and spiraling out. I could get help but it won’t change the way you left.
“Everyone goes to the internet for validation. Everyone goes to the internet for symptoms of a sickness,” Conrique tells American Songwriter. “People go to the internet to look at beautiful bodies, and they compare themselves to that. Sometimes, it lets them down. The internet is very untrustworthy and negative.
“We feel so protected behind our screens, that no one’s gonna find out who we actually are. And I think that’s why people send us death threats. They know they won’t be held accountable for it,” she continues. “In real life, they wouldn’t say that to someone’s face. It’s so horrible that anyone can just say whatever and get away with it. And it’s not okay.”
Conrique’s favorite lyric (Should probably call my friends / Turns out I’m not depressed) embodies her own story. “I have definitely gone through a stage where I wasn’t talking to any of my friends,” she shares, “and they didn’t know what was going on in my life. And I wasn’t sure why I was pushing away.”
Once she realized what was happening, she was able to recenter herself and break those detachment cycles. “That was way better than just keeping it all on the inside,” she adds.
With the pandemic and forced lockdowns, human interaction shifted entirely to the online world, with only black screens as a conduit for companionship. Having grown up in public school until fifth grade, she never quite imagined she would find herself battling anxiety or depression. “When COVID hit, and I couldn’t see my friends and interact with people, I was stuck in my house and seeing the same walls every day, the same view every day. I think it really got to me.”
Originally from Loomis, California, a town of 6,000 outside of Sacramento, Conrique sang everywhere as a kid─in her bedroom, hooked into her karaoke machine, and even atop ATVs on the family farm. She didn’t care. She had a song in her heart and needed the world to hear. As many precocious children do, she performed little shows for her grandparents, mostly singing Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Selena Gomez songs, and it was clear music coursed through her spirit.
When her family moved to Los Angeles, all sharing two sets of bunk beds in a one-bedroom apartment, music was the initial aim but “acting kind of took over,” she recalls. From competitive dancing to a viral web series called Chicken Girls, her rise to fame was meteoric, laying the groundwork for later roles in Henry Danger and The Rookie, among others.
Surprisingly enough, Conrique didn’t actively start writing her own songs until signing with KYN Entertainment, a joint venture between Sonny Takhar and Live Nation. “When I first started writing music, it was about my personal life and stuff that I could relate to. And I never put myself in other people’s shoes,” she says. “I recently started doing that and writing songs about other people’s lives and other situations that I don’t relate to. It’s the same with acting. You put your feet in someone else’s shoes, and you are playing this other character who’s not you. It’s someone else that you get to play.”
With last year’s Baby Blue EP, Conrique left a crater-sized mark, positioning herself as a promising new pop act with a clear-cut vision. Yet with new songs “After All” and “Advice from the Internet,” she levels up, both with the songwriting and vocal performances. “My favorite thing with recording is tracking vocals. I like singing the same thing over and over again and then adding harmonies and ad-libs,” she says, “and then hearing at the end how beautiful it sounds when the vocals are all put together.”
In looking ahead, the singer-songwriter hopes to dip her toes further into the production pool. “I have a mini studio at my house. Right now, it’s my gaming desk,” she says with a laugh─for the record her go-to video game is “Call of Duty” to decompress. “So I haven’t been doing anything with production lately. But I think later on when we can go back into studios and we can interact with human beings, I definitely think that I would want to be a part of the production and learn and grow.”
Conrique also eyes a bit of genre-shifting in her future work. “I was talking to my mom the other day, and I said, ‘You know, I think I was born in the wrong time.’ And she said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘I think I was supposed to be born when Justin Timberlake and J-Lo were born. I love listening to their music, like the ‘Justified’ album and ‘Jenny from the Block.’ They both hit me so much and make me feel so different. And I love the old beats. And I definitely think that could be something I do later on.”