We are pleased to premiere the striking new video from Dillbilly. The wonderfully atmospheric ‘Chaparral’ is the title track from their upcoming tenth studio album. Full of texture and dramatic sonic layers, this single lures the listener into Dillbilly’s poetic world: “Circling // Birdseye view looking down over the serpentine prairie // Wind through leaves // Rattling brush and creaking hinges of the redwood trees // I’m here with you.” Their words evoke a real sense of place and create enchanting, introspective narratives to become lost in.
White, working class and raised in a trailer park by the Ohio River, Dillbilly brings all their experiences and influences to bear in their artfully melancholic, powerful country-infused ballads. Not least, they bring the complexities of growing up queer in small-town Indiana and there is certainly an emotional richness and depth in their beautifully arranged songs.
Dillbilly summed up the story behind the video and the song’s meaning for AUK: “‘Chaparral was a collaborative project made possible by Waxsimile Productions, Julie Wolf, Nino Moschella, and many crowd-sourced contributions. The video was filmed in Oakland and edited in Nashville while myself and the creative director of Waxsimile gave notes over zoom in Ohio and Chicago. Truly a pandemic creation. I knew I wanted a birds-eye view representing the California landscape, something that made you feel ‘right-sized’ when you saw it. We took that idea and expanded from there. Song meanings change and become more complex over time but when I wrote ‘Chaparral’ I was grappling with loss and recovering from chaotic substance use. I was really searching within and the metaphors of all the plants in that landscape were a pretty good example of resilience and regeneration. The recording process of this song, shaped by the lush arrangement and instrumentation, really expanded the meaning for me. Now it conjures up collective losses and struggles like white supremacy, climate change and how we have the same ability to heal, regenerate, and regrow with the wisdom of nature and our ancestors.”
After years of touring, working on soundtracks and releasing nine mostly self-recorded albums under their birth name, Dillbilly is a new moniker through which to create and collaborate. They explain: “Dillbilly is an homage to where I come from. It’s an honouring and an uncovering of the complexity in growing up queer and non-binary in the Bible Belt. After I moved to Oakland, the community of artists I found really fortified and expanded what I thought was possible musically. I started to believe in the abundance of my wildest dreams. The permission to be my full self also helped with this. I was in a community that was able to see me how I’ve always seen myself…non-binary. Oakland empowered me to call myself by my true name (and pronouns).”
Dillbilly has worked with Julie Wolf (Indigo Girls) on the new record, alongside a host of other talented musical collaborators. The result is absorbing and the highlight is Dillbilly’s resonant, graceful vocal performance. The record tackles a range of themes with heart and sensitivity. They say: “I hope folks feel held and inspired. In this life there is room for joy, struggle, and hope. I hope folks see parts of themselves reflected and confronted, especially others like me. I hope this record is a balm for those who are hurting.” If Dillbilly is new to you, this is well worth checking out. Enjoy.