It’s a very wet and windy Wednesday in the cathedral city of St Albans in the UK – conditions that are presumably not too favourable for a Californian. And yet, singer-songwriter/troubadour Dylan Dunlap, who hails from sunny Los Angeles, has made the train ride from the urban sprawl of London, where has been gigging, to the Hertfordshire city to perform his acoustic guitar infused pop music, opening for three metal bands at The Horn pub.
This may sound a little mad, particularly considering this is a man with over one million Spotify streams, and a support slot for One Republic under his belt. But Dunlap is happy to explain. As we get chatting, the bartender brings over his chicken burger and chips; noticing he looks very puzzled when asked if he needs cutlery, I explain that in the UK we sometimes say ‘cutlery’ instead of knife and fork, which draws a big chuckle from the American.
“This is the third show out of seven,” Dunlap says when I ask how his UK tour is going.
“Tomorrow I’m playing in Bishops Stortford. I’m honestly so happy to be here — it’s nice to get out of LA for a bit.” I confess that I’m puzzled to find him in St Albans. “Well, I was street performing in Vegas a few years back, and I met the owner of this pub and The Horn in Bishops Stortford, and we stayed connected.”
It’s very much worth pointing out that Dunlap has just performed at two legendary venues in London: Ronnie Scott’s, and The Finsbury. I ask if he was aware of what a big deal these places were, prior to performing at them.
“Yeah, I mean Ronnie Scott’s was crazy,” he replies. “I also love to have the free time before the shows — I found this amazing cafe near The Finsbury called Blighty, and really enjoyed sitting there reading Harry Potter, and making friends with the baristas and casually telling them why I’m here.”
The way Dunlap makes these tours happen would be sure to make a lot of people very anxious:
“The way I do it is I book the flight first, and then book the shows with the incentive of the flight. And then I love to meet new people every night and organically build a new following.”
The big talking point is the release of If That’s Alright, Dylan’s latest single that speaks of learning to enjoy your own company. “I have no idea how it’s doing,” he says with a laugh. “I mean, I do keep up with the analytics and to see what’s working. But the funny thing is this is the first song where I’ve put it out and then stopped caring about its performance. I just took pride in the fact that we did everything we could, put it out in the world, and then hopefully people resonate with it. And then it gets 300k streams in one week!”