by Julia Leiby
On January 19th, Allston-based lo-fi pop solo project Bedbug released their album I’ll Count To Heaven In Years Without Seasons. Joy Void, a smaller imprint of Run For Cover Records, pressed tapes and lathe-cut LPs of the album. The 13-track record is full of beautiful atmospheric pop music and poetry that centers on the passing of the seasons. I emailed Dylan Citron, the songwriter behind Bedbug, and delved into their beginnings and influences, the many collaborators on the record, religious themes, and what’s next for the project.
JL: Bedbug is based in Boston, MA right? Are you originally from Boston?
DC: I'm based in Allston! I'm from Westchester, NY. So, from no music scene at all to a really vibrant one!
JL: When did you start writing music and who first inspired you?
DC: I started writing music when I was... maybe 12 or 13. It was a combination of upright piano and Garageband goofing. When I started writing I pretty much only listened to Jack's Mannequin so I was big into acoustic piano soft rock. It stayed that [way] until I got deep into Pitchfork elitism in high school, which was mostly an embarrassing time. I did get one good thing out of it, which was I discovered Modest Mouse which is still one of my favorite bands ever, and a huge influence on my music still, despite being extremely different on the surface. I listened to Sad Sappy Sucker at work today 3 times in a row lol.
JL: A lot of this album is centered on seasons and time passing. What does this mean to you and why did you decide to focus on it?
DC: I think that there are certain things that are nearly always evocative, because of their universality. I think everyone has some emotions connected to the passage of time, and a good number of us probably end up tying our emotional states to the weather outside. Even a rainy day could be bleak and sad, but can also be comforting and relaxing. The idea of seasons stopping came from that, where I had a lot of days where I didn't necessarily feel like the weather was sad, or happy, or really much of anything. So I guess in a way the whole thing is a big metaphor for the consistent... nothingness that comes from depression. Not to be too much of a downer, whoops.
JL: A lot of the tracks feature poets or rappers/collaborators and other samples. Tell me about the people featured.
DC: Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a poet I met in Boston, who is currently going to school in NY. She's awesome and her poetry is extremely beautiful. Devin (Pink Navel) is a rapper I met in Boston awhile back, at a Bummer City Historical Society gig. They are fantastic so when I needed something on top of the instrumental breaks, I knew they'd be perfect. The rest of the features are all friends who I asked for help! I'd have parts of songs with harmonies or double tracked vocals and decided it'd be more fun to have some more voices featured! The second part of the answer has to do with the samples:
During the whole writing process I was looking for samples and other things to pepper into the transitions and lulls in songs. I found most on YouTube, with the exception of the second to last one, which is a friend telling just a really funny joke. On my last record the samples were fun and sentimental, from TV shows mostly. This record I wanted a wider net, so I used all sorts of funky samples, which are... trade secrets ;)
JL: Did you create the music to go along with Melissa's poems or did the music come first?
DC: A little bit of both! I asked her for poetry knowing it was something I'd want to break up the album a bit, but without completed parts. I ended up sending her a few demos to get the flavor of the album, and while she had those, I started playing around with my synths and instruments to come up with instrumentals. By the time she finished, I had a few pieces I was happy with, and I essentially mixed and matched them together however they fit with the poetry! I'm really happy with how splitting the poem up turned out, it gives the album a greater sense of cohesiveness to me.
JL: Who are some of your favorite bands right now in Boston and elsewhere?
DC: There's too many. Moonish Brute, Puppy Problems, Meilyn, Pink Navel, Really Great, and Susie Derkins are all in one way or another somewhere on the album. The Michael Character, Tuxis Giant, Looks Like Mountains, and Brittle Brian are some other local favs. I'm definitely forgetting more. As for bands that I think influenced this album, probably The Brave Little Abacus, The Radio Dept., Julia Brown, and Frog, mainly.
JL: "God's a teenage heartbreak / she's crying in her bedroom" is such a beautiful line. Do you believe in God and would you say religious themes play a lot into the record?
DC: Religious themes are a huge part of the album. I'm constantly conflicted with religion. I consider myself Agnostic, but I think that overall religion is an incredibly beautiful thing for people. Incorporating those themes into music is a trope I definitely lifted from Modest Mouse, personifying "God" in a different way than God is typically personified creates a very interesting kind of emotional leverage. Who's to say God is a grumpy old man in the sky? If God invented beauty then why can't they be some sort of representation of teenage heartbreak and nostalgia? Who's to say God isn't also the passage of time or the changing of seasons? I could go forever, but religion as a whole is a lot more beautiful when it's left up to interpretation of the individual.
JL: How/when/where was this recorded?
DC: This was recorded in early 2017, recorded entirely in my room (except for Melissa and Devin's parts). I recorded mostly onto cassette and some pencil mics, through my acoustic guitar and keyboards.
JL: What's your favorite Bedbug show you've played so far?
DC: [This answer is] another example of 'too many to count'. I've played some really awesome shows with awesome people and been extremely nervous, and I've played some cozy shows with 6 people total and given my best performances. Playing with Elvis Depressedly at the Run For Cover office was a dream come true, and an awesome show, the audience was great.
JL: I saw the record is out on Joy Void and LPs are already sold out, congrats! What's next for you and this project?
DC: I have no idea! I'm gonna keep writing for sure, but I'm not sure if I'll experiment with a band? It's never been my calling I've always loved the project as a solo project. For the first time in awhile I have no direction at all! I'll keep working to sell this one and just write songs I like writing.
You can stream the Bedbug record on Bandcamp, Spotify, and other streaming services.