No, Dinosoul is not a lumbering rock band or a smooth R&B outfit. They are an electronics, synths, and guitar-based duo from Pittsburgh who craft thought-provoking, relatable lyrics and mesmerizing atmospheric music that’s graced by two female vocalists.
Dinosoul started to make their mark in 2016 with their first record, the Dimension EP, and followed that up with their full-length debut album, Eleven, in 2018. That LP featured 11 tracks, including the moody “4 AM” and indie punk number “Garbage Truck”.
An accompanying video for latest darkwave single “Let Me Go” just dropped on September 9th. The Motorik, noir electro-synth soundscape is carved by Donovan’s deep and ponderous vocals and takes flight on the chorus sections with dual airy vocals from Donovan and Hilliard.
Dinosoul will continue their series of single releases through the remainder of 2019, beginning with the late September release of “Sorrow”.
Donny Donvan and Carolyn Hilliard have graciously taken the time to reply to our on-going Protest Interview series, which highlights the latest relevant, individual to socio-political concerns on the minds of music artists.
Hello! Please introduce yourself/yourselves and give a description of your sound/musical vision.
Hi! We're Dinosoul - an American dark indie synth pop band formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2016 by queer partners Donny Donovan (vocals, guitar) and Carolyn Hilliard (vocals, keyboard).
Our vision is to let out music and lyrics that touch people on a universal level and find you when you are ready. Our sound merges electronic New Wave and hip-hop beats with indie pop guitar rhythms, and layers of ambient synth and keyboard piano melodies. We top this off with intricate guitar leads and the blend of our two voices - one lower and raspy, and the other ethereal and airy.
What is/are the main personal, national, and/or international issue(s) concerning you the most these days?
There are so many issues that we are passionate about, but to make a difference you have to focus your energy on something specific to make an impact. To start, both of us are queer, sober, and vegan and this is a very difficult life to live. All of these lifestyles have a stigma around them that goes against most of society's views and norms and keeps us living a fearful life. Because of these norms, it creates sometimes a dangerous atmosphere for us to be ourselves.
Our biggest protest is living our life the way we want with courage and no excuses. When you are in the flow of your truth, your creativity explodes and allows you to utilize the unique gifts here on Earth and attract the people you need to succeed, and that also need this inspiration and empowerment to be the best they can be so that we can change this Earth for the better and heal all of these issues that we're protesting about, whether personal, national, and/or international!
Some of the major issues that are concerning to us besides people not feeling safe enough to live their truths are the current political state and policies, consumerism, imperialism, exploiting other's lands, capitalism, the effects of the capitalistic meat industry on the environment, animals who are inhumanely exploited, the systematic discrimination of employment for queer people and the cultural murdering of trans people, the state of the environment in general, and so much more. We think that you can get the gist of where are passion lies. The most important thing to combat all of these issues is education to the people about what is actually going on behind the scenes! We need to stop being ignorant and face the truth to stop the rampancy of these elite if we want to survive and actually live a FREE LIFE!
What song, video, or lyrics quote of yours best represents your current viewpoint on this/these important topic(s)?
None of our songs really talk about any of these issues specifically. Our lyrics are more universal and relate to these topics, hoping to empower and help others create self awareness and self actualization, which leads to courage to be yourself and go against the norms of society, which may or may not be these topics that we are activists for.
Our activist side is more through our lifestyle and endeavors outside of our music. Dinosoul gives us the platform to be able to talk about these issues and life path and to spread awareness through social media, our shows, and conversing with our fans. Basically spreading the love and awareness.
Most of our songs display the struggles of self realization and awareness and what to do with these sacred truths that go against everything we were ever taught. One of the first songs we wrote is called “Dimension”. We feel that this track really sets the tone for our overall vision:
"I see a new dimension
Where knowledge meets the walls.
Disintegrate our nation
Exposing all the lies"
For us, “Waiting For You” was a very healing song both on a personal level and as a partnership, which can be relatable to any and all relationships. Truly all of our songs have some kind of important message or energy around them that anyone can relate to. Here is the video:
What’s your favorite song, video, or lyrics quote by another act or artist that best exemplifies, or at least partly relates to, your current viewpoint?
We don't really have an answer for this question, to be honest. We don't know of many bands who create music specifically for these topics, but we are drawn to other artists whose lyrics are also very universal and are to be interpreted on an individual level and inspire your imagination to some sort of truth about yourself that ultimately leads you to an unexplained healing and comfort within yourself. Some artists are Thom Yorke, Interpol, and Tegan & Sara, and many more.
However, Donny just got asked to fill in as a rhythm guitar player in Anti-Flag and after being submerged in their songs so that she can learn, we can certainly relate to their messages and lyrics and are now big fans! Some songs are:
“Die for the Government”
“The Press Corpse”
What other forms of protest, besides through your music, are you involved with to get your message across?
When we're not making music, we're throwing sober social events. We started something in Pittsburgh called Empath Sober Bar & Social Events which throws sobers social pop-up events to give people options other than the alcohol-soaked night life and "wellness" events. It has been really hard to remain sober in the music scene and in general when you don't drink.
Our intention is to provide a fun, safe, supportive, and all-inclusive environment for everyone from all walks of life, both sober and "sober curious." We hope to eventually open a permanent sober space, which is also a venue for many different types of events. We also make our own non-alcoholic mixed drinks!
We really just enjoy having intellectual conversations and informational exchange with people to get their viewpoints on these topics and hopefully open and educate their minds to things they may not be aware of. We also really try to encourage people to think as an individual versus political bipartisan.
A couple years ago, we were to play the big Delta Pride parade here in Pittsburgh which would have been a great opportunity for us. However, we found out that Delta took a big sponsorship from EQT (a fracking corporate company) and renamed it EQT Pride which was a huge red flag for us.
We started to dig more into the Delta foundation which also labeled itself as being all-inclusive and found that they were not as inclusive as we had thought. They were not big supporters of the whole queer community, namely the black trans community. Even though this was great exposure, we decided to not perform and instead performed at Pittsburgh's first-ever non-corporate protest pride parade labeled People's Pride founded by SisTers PGH.
This was a movement that countered the Delta Foundation and their sell- out to corporations and allowed for Pride to be what it is meant for: A peaceful, safe, booze-less, non-exploited celebration of queer people and their allies. 2017 was the first year it was formed and we have played every year since in support of the whole queer community.
We shop local at farmer's markets, and community stores, try to buy second-hand as much as possible, and not to partake in consumerism and materialism when possible.
We try to conserve as much as we can by reducing, as we are starting to see that recycling is a joke until we come up with better solutions.
Speaking out and spreading awareness about the meat industry and Monsanto and their detrimental effects on our environment (deforestation, water pollution, etc.) Also, speaking out about and sharing information about the exploitation of other countries’ lands for big business and government profit.
Being aware of who our money supports. Namely who and where the big corporations’ money goes to.
There is so much to be aware of, but these are some of the top things that we are actively doing and sharing to create awareness in this new world. We know and understand the need for making our lives easier in this crazy, fast-paced world, but we should not be doing it at the expense of mother Earth and our own well-being. We still need to be responsible and making sure that everything that we are doing is for the greater good of humanity and the community. That is the ultimate selfless service to this world. Ask yourself always, “Is what I'm doing for the greater good?”
It’s easy to judge and criticize others, especially in these unsettling times of overt intolerance, ignorance, and insults, but the fact remains that we need to work together. Objecting to and protesting against, but then working on a solution to the problem is critical in ensuring that positive change occurs. Name an action to take, or a campaign/charity that would be worthwhile to contribute to, for your cause.
We believe that the most courageous action that you can take is being truthful with yourself and taking responsibility for your actions and reactions. By being kind, understanding, and compassionate of all beings, and also with yourself will take this world a long way to healing and positivity.
These simple actions have got to start with the self first. Learning to love and accept yourself is so important to thrive and heal this world before those feelings of love and acceptance can be reciprocated from another being that we all crave. It is a trickle affect. Your feelings of judgement or hate, whether with yourself or another, is a good place to start looking for change. Changing and healing your perception of this world and self to a positive outlook, we feel, is one of the greatest contributions you can give. Also, as stated above, ask yourself always if what you're doing is for the greater good!
What gives you hope for the future?
What gives us hope is knowing that we are being the best and most honest version of ourselves always and remaining positive for the future, which hopefully inspires others to do the same for the sake of humanity. Our society is run on fear, which is why this scary state of the world is where it is now and why there is such a sense of urgency for mindfulness and wellness. We are starting to heal ourselves and it is going to get messy because we have a lot to heal on a personal, generational, and historical level.
Most people don't know it, but we are waking up and becoming aware of our mindsets, actions, and thoughts. Our mind and thoughts are so powerful. If we don't start to learn to control and shift our perspectives, we are destined to doom. However, we are survivors and both we and Mother Earth know what we need to do to heal. We can already feel this shift, and although we are in scary times, there is light at the end of the tunnel.