"An interview with Dilana from 'Rock Star SuperNova.'"

By Bob Zerull

I remember watching “Rock Star SuperNova” and really enjoying two performers. Storm Large, who had that demanding stage presence and then Dilana, who not only had the stage presence but also had one of the most original and amazing voices. I thought for sure that we’d be hearing from Dilana again and it was only a matter of time. That time has come.

Q - What have you been up to since “Rock Star?”

A - Oh Wow. I’ve been working on the record, writing songs, co-writing. I was collaborating with some people. The record has been ready for over two years. It’s been in and out of the hands of…evil doers (both of us laugh)! (Still laughing) I’m trying to think of a nice way to say it. Yeah it’s been in and out of two labels…well in and out of one and with another right now, which I’m not fine with, for all kinds of reasons. But, yeah, it’s been a really, really rough ride for the last three years.

Q - How long have you been singing and performing?

A - I started when I was seven. I ran away from home when I was fifteen to join like a traveling duo and that’s it, I never stopped. I’m thirty-seven so it’s been about twenty-five years.

Q - Who were some of your early influences?

A - I don’t really have influences per se. The things that influence me aren’t really other artists. The thing that influences me is life itself. I grew up listening to, jeez, everything, from Abba to Tina Turner to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Nicks.

Q - You’ve got a big show coming up Friday night (February 5th) at the Roxy. Can you tell us a little bit about that? (Also check out an interview with Absinthe - who shares the stage with Dilana.)

A - Yeah, it’s going to be great. I’m going to be playing with some awesome guys. Two of the guys from the house band at “Rock Star SuperNova.” We’re going to be doing a bunch of the originals from my record “InsideOut” and a couple of surprise covers, maybe just one or two. I’m trying to get a little preview of the film that I just did “Angel Camouflaged.” I’m trying to get that as the opening, it’s not even released yet, so it might be a cool surprise and then kick into the first song, which is in the movie.

Q - What’s the movie called again?

A - It’s called “Angel Camouflaged.” The line is taken from one of the songs on my record. It’s a song called “Ice” and it’s one of the songs on there and the director really liked it, so...

Q - What’s the movie about?

A - He called it a rock n roll drama. I play the lead role. It’s basically about this rock and roll chick that gets so sick and tired of the music industry and basically pulls out of it and disappears for awhile. After she goes to rehab and cleans herself up her and her brother inherit a bar from their aunt, who is played by Patty Smythe. They have to go rebuild the bar. It’s basically a journey of how this girl discovers herself again and gets back into the music industry.

Q - Let’s talk about your “new” album “InsideOut,” although I guess it’s really not that new.

A - (Laughs) Yeah.

(Photo by Mark Weisse)

Q - I like it a lot. I heard it for the first time two days ago. How would you describe it? (Also check out a review of Dilana's album here.)

A - I would describe it as a rock record. It definitely has that rock feel to it. We used all live instruments, live backing vocals. It’s very true; the lyrics came from a very deep place. It goes from a hardcore guitar edge track to a melodic ballad, very soulful. There’s a little bit of everything for everybody I think.

Q - Do you have a favorite song on the album?

A - It changes all the time. Probably I’d say the one that has lasted the longest and always comes back is the very last track called “Question.” It’s kind of has a Zeppelin-esque sound. I just love that song. It was a one take.

Q - Are you kidding? That’s awesome. That’s probably my favorite song on the album as well.

A - Are you serious? That was one take. I was actually improvising the whole second half of it. I was standing in the control room singing for the drum and bass players who were tracking their parts. I was just giving them something to play along to and that’s the track. I just loved it, I wouldn’t touch it, I wouldn’t do anything to it.

Q - Wow that makes the song that much cooler.

A - Thanks I also love that one.

Q - What was the song writing/recording process like?

A - It was great. Most of the songs I wrote on a little writing tour that I did. I traveled around the country and worked with a bunch of people. Actually, “Question” I wrote with a Canadian guy in New York City one night over a bottle of wine in the office of the publishing company. We sat there and wrote the main melody and the main chords for it. Not really the lyrics, we just had a rough idea. It was such a great experience working with all these different very amazing musicians. I experienced a lot of different kinds of writing too. I wrote the song on the record called “Hate U” with Johnny Colt, the original bass player for The Black Crowes. He’s very much into loops. So, he recorded like a minute of a drum beat that he had looped and sent me off. I sat there with these beats, I’d never done that before, and I came up with the lyrics and the melody in twenty minutes. I went back down to the studio and we recorded the song in an hour. There’s a lot of interesting things going with the writing to it. I wrote four of the tracks with the producer Dave Bassett in the studio. That went so well; he and I really connected. It was a very natural easy process, we wrote a song a day.

Q - How did Allison Iraheta from “American Idol” get to cover “Holiday?”

A - That took me a while to accept and swallow. Everyone would say Dilana, that’s fucking awesome; here’s this chick she’s still in the spotlight. Her management loves the song and she loves it. Why are you so depressed? I would say I was depressed for a week when I found out that she wanted to do my song, because at that point my record hadn’t come out yet. It was due to be released about a month after I heard this. It was like giving up my baby for adoption. I couldn’t let go of it. I wouldn’t give them a yes or a no. I said, ‘give me a few days to think about this.’ Eventually I came around. I just realized that the chances of her making it a hit are probably bigger than mine because she has financial back up and labels and stuff behind her, while I’m independent. Now I’m very happy that I did it. Every time I’ve seen her live on TV or radio she’s singing “Holiday.” It’s great. It’s brought a lot of awareness to her fans who didn’t know a lot about me. It’s a good thing you know?

Q - Adam Lambert did a version of “Ring of Fire” on “American Idol” that was very similar to yours from “Rock Star SuperNova.” What did you think of that?

A - It was very flattering. He gave me a shout out in a little video blog that he did. It was really cool that I was able to inspire a singer, an artist, as amazing as Adam Lambert. I really think that guy is so talented. He in my eyes is really phenomenal. I hate to compare him to one of my idols, Freddie Mercury, but I think he’s up there. He could be someone as extravagant and amazing as Freddie if he focuses and keeps his feet on the ground. It was just a huge flatter for me that he did that.

Q - Are there any plans to tour behind “InsideOut?”

A - I’ve done a few little tours myself. As I said I’m not signed to the label, so I’m not getting any backup or support. In fact we’re not on good ground at all, which really sucks because I honestly wanted to whatever it takes to promote the record, even though it’s not my record anymore. So there is nothing in the works for this record, but I still am playing it live, because I love my songs and I believe in them. The record’s theirs, but the songs are mine. I am doing a little tour this month. I go to Toronto first for rehearsals then we’re off to Dubai and Afghanistan to do a tour for the troops. I’ll be playing songs from the record. I just finished touring South Africa where I promoted the record. It is just so hard for me because the label didn’t make any hard copies of the record. It was just released on iTunes and Amazon. My fans were screaming out for a hard copy. I basically asked the record label to make me hard copies, which they sold to me for $9 a CD! Can you fucking believe that? I know they cost like $2 to make. That’s what it takes to get your shit out there. Without any support I basically just have to bite the dust and do whatever it takes. I’m working on some new stuff. There’s also the new soundtrack for “Angel Camouflaged.” Nine of my new songs are in that movie. So I’m excited about that soundtrack coming out. I’m working on getting a writing tour together to work with some more amazing guys and bring out a new record as soon as I can.

(Photo by Red Aires Photography)

Q - When you’re performing on stage what is your favorite song to perform?

A - It depends on the energy in the room and the vibe in the crowd. I love doing “Solid Gold,” because it’s so high energy. I love the drop beat that makes it really heavy. I love doing “Dirty Little Secret.” It also has a lot of dynamic; it starts soft and just explodes. I guess “Ice” is also another favorite. I love all my songs, I really do. To me they’re just great songs.

Q - What does it take to get your song on the radio? To me, the second people hear a song like “Ice” I have to imagine they’d be calling their radio stations over and over again requesting the song. What does it take to get the air play?

A - Aside from a blow job? (Laughs) It’s really, really hard. I’ve been working on that. I have a publicist and a manager who recently joined me. I had been on my own for over a year and a half now, just trying to do everything by myself. She just came on board and she is trying to make things happen. I’m doing a lot more interviews and getting the song played. But with the program directors and having no marketing behind me it is just so hard. I go and do an interview, the DJs will play a track or two, and they say they love it. People call in and email in and say that they love it, and then that’s it. It’s so damn hard.

Q - What are you listening to right now?

A - I really love Muse. I’m very much into Muse and I have been for over a year now. So I find myself listening to that. I also have both of the CDs of Lady Gaga. I’ve been listening to that. I really love her songs; love her style and her vibe. She can really sing. I’m enjoying discovering her talents and techniques. It varies. I love David Bowie. Lately I’ve been listening to him a little bit more. Queen, I’ve always loved Queen. It depends on my mood. I’m always listening to Zeppelin no matter what (laughs). I have a very versatile range of music that I love.

Q - Do you have any embarrassing stage moments?

A - (Laughs) I’m sure I do, but it’s not easy for me to get embarrassed. In fact I like having embarrassing moments because they open that window to the crowd. It helps many times to break the ice. To show the audience that I’m just a human and I fuck up too. To me, embarrassing moments aren’t really embarrassing; they’re just little tools to connect with the people. I can’t think of one off hand. I guess there is one I can think of. I was doing a song once and I was one verse and half the chorus into the song when I started getting the giggles. I just looked across the room and I saw someone with the strangest look on their face that I could not hold it. I laughed and laughed through the entire song. I tried to start the next song and I couldn’t. I basically had to tell the crowd I have to go for a little walk and I’ll be right back and that’s what I did. I left stage and went for a walk (laughs). That’s the one that really sticks out.

Q - What does 2010 have in store for Dilana?

A - I have a really good feeling about 2010. It started very rocky. I just broke up with my boyfriend. So it started off a rocky road, but in a way it opened up a lot of things. Also just seeing these Grammys the other night really inspired me to make this a year that will stand out for me. I want to make another movie; in fact I’m already busy with that. I’ll be writing more songs for that movie too. I’ll be starring and making music for it. I’m touring again. I’m doing another South African tour in April and then October also; I’m going back for another one. Definitely want to get my name out there, get the music out there. I don’t know how we’re going to do it yet, but that is a goal. We’re going to do whatever it takes. I might even speak to some Indie labels. I’ve been very opposed to signing anything for a while now, but I think if I don’t get an investor who’s going to help me then I need to find an Indie label who’s going to back me and support me. I really just want to focus on getting the music out there, because I want to be on that Grammy stage. I do, I don’t care what it takes, next year or the year after I’m going to create some shit.

Check out Dilana at:





Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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Anonymous said...

Love you Dilana. Yes these radio and label people are scum who only support the old sexist straight guy's vision of what "music" is. Even Adam Lambert is struggling uphill for radio play. His first single For Your Entertainment was unilaterally boycotted by those control freaks. I wish you all the best but sorry to say, it really does take some kind of blow job (albeit metaphorical) even if you'rr signed. It's disgusting. You need an insider who is behind you. Thats how Kesha, Gaga and that kid Beiber broke through. bleh. I'm so sorry you're playing the Roxy this week while Adam is taking his first vacation. He was just there and I'm sure would have loved to see you live if he were in town.

Anonymous said...

Dilana should join http://www.supernova.com !!!!

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moondoggie said...

Another amazing interview for Dilana...its a shame she has to struggle so hard to have her music heard because she has the most beautiful & unique style & vocals heard in decades in rock music!!


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guitar tabs said...

Thank you for sharing this article, I really love the way she carries herself.


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