Buy a Record, Make a Difference 11: Dylan van der Schyff

Buy a Record, Make a Difference is a new series we have created to help local musicians generate income during COVID-19. It is based on the principle that we should support and reward the hard work local artists have already put into recordings, as it is an immensely difficult undertaking to be creating new material under current circumstances. There is currently a lot of emphasis on livestreaming and innovation in our industry, and while those things absolutely have their place, we think it’s also important to boost projects that have already been completed.

In each post, we’ll ask a local artist a series of the same questions, give them the opportunity to talk about recordings they’re proud of, and ask them to talk about other local musicians whose work they admire. It’s our hope that you’ll take the time to listen to & purchase the work of local artists, or at the very least share their work with others.


Photo: Peter Gannushkin /
1. Who are you? 

I’m an improvising percussionist (mostly drum kit) who has lived and worked in Vancouver since the early 90s. Recently, I have begun to split my time between Vancouver and Melbourne, where I coordinate the honours and graduate programs in Jazz and Improvisation at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (University of Melbourne). In my academic life, I also research and write on the philosophy and psychology of music, as well as performance, improvisation, and creativity more generally.

Over the years I have played with many local heroes and bands on the Vancouver scene including Ron Samworth, Paul Plimley, Tony Wilson, Dalava, Brad Turner, Bruce Freedman, Torsten Muller, Peggy Lee, Francois Houle, and New Orchestra Workshop among many others. I have also toured and recorded with a range of artists from across Europe and the US like George Lewis, John Butcher, Joelle Leandre, Michael Blake, Dave Douglas, Wayne Horvitz, Ken Vandermark, Paul Rutherford, and Rob Mazurek. Between 2014-2019, I curated the Vancouver Improvised Music Meeting, which hosted visiting artists in collaboration with local improvisers.

2. Describe your music as best you can.

I grew up playing jazz with people like saxophonists Seamus Blake and Terry Deane, and bassists Sean Drabitt and Joe Williamson. I really love all kinds of music, but I am mostly known for my work in free improvisation and experimental music. This music frequently breaks from traditional musical devices and forms, often utilising structures of sound and noise as much as melody and harmony. During the COVID-19 lockdown in Australia, I’ve been returning to explore practices that I used to enjoy earlier on in my career (and as a kid), such as working with close mic’d objects, environmental sounds, radios, and editing/manipulation processes like those associated with musique concrète.

3. What’s your latest recording (or a recording you’d like to promote)? Where can people get it?

I have recently released a couple of recordings from my archives. Both are sax, piano, drum trios recorded live in Europe in the early 2000s. “Bouch Perdue” is with pianist Achim Kaufmann and saxophonist/clarinettist Michael Moore. It’s from a 2004 concert in Nickelsdorf Austria. “Fietstour”is with saxophonist/clarinettist Toby Delius and pianist Cor Fuhler, and was recorded in Holland in 2001. I have also released two recent drum and saxophone recordings with John Butcher and Jack Wright, respectively. All of these can be found on my Bandcamp site and are ‘pay what you can’.

4. Is there another local musician whose work you’d like to give a shout out to? 

There are so many to choose from … Tony Wilson’s new record “This Way Through the Forest” is really great. It features a fantastic string section with Peggy Lee, Meredith Bates, John Kastelic, James Meger, and Josh Zubot, as well as the wonderful singing of Patsy Klein.