Introspection With Dinosoul

A spiritual awakening and a new haircut brought Dinosoul into this world.

Partners and Pittsburgh residents Donny Donovan (vocals/guitar) and Carolyn Hilliard (vocals/keys) founded the band when they were looking inward and exploring spirituality. At that time, Donovan got a haircut that made her head look like a Stegosaurus. And thus, Dinosoul was born.

Now a five to six-piece band, their hazy and wondrous music has a simple goal.

“We’ve just been through a lot as a band, but we want to connect to people,” Donovan tells BTRtoday. “That’s the whole point of music.”

Last month, Dinosoul released their debut LP Eleven, named for a number with spiritual significance in numerology. “It [11] is a high vibration spiritual number,” Hilliard says. “It’s considered a master number in numerology and we just really liked the energy around it.”

Dinosoul’s 11-track debut is dark and meditative with a reminiscence of ‘80s pop new wave. The combination of synth, keys and electronic drums over melodic/ hazy vocals singing along to fuzzed out guitar riffs creates an atmosphere of passion and vulnerability. Tracks like “Control” and “Riot” aren’t afraid to get more into the pop rock side of things, with catchy lyrics and hooky riffs. Then tracks like “Illusion” and “Waiting For You” keep things ominous and pensive with ghostlike vocals paired to simple keys melodies.

Before Dinosoul, Donovan was involved in several music projects reaching an end. Music was a central part of her life but she felt lost in the world. Coming from mostly rock ‘n’ roll bands like Hearken, Donovan wanted to create experimental, but still listenable, music.

“We wanted to explore sound,” Donovan says. “We wanted to sound different, but we didn’t want to try to sound different, we wanted it to come natural—this album right now you’ll notice the genres are all over the place and I kind of like that.”

While the album blends genres and experiments with sound, the songs have instant appeal. That’s by design. They’re looking to reach as many people as possible to share what they’ve learned in their spiritual journey.

“We knew we were learning a lot and we wanted to spread and share our messages,” Hilliard says about the new album. “A lot of our songs are about this process of spiritual awakening and the feelings and emotions and the different experiences that we had of self-awareness and awareness to the world.”

Hilliard says before all their shows they read the audience a mission statement explaining their musical vision. “It’s really about getting out there,” Hilliard adds.

Donovan says she wants their next material to be “heavier” and “poppier,” though Hilliard says she has another direction in mind. However, the two agree that the musical differences between them are what keeps Dinosoul so fresh.

Listen to the entire interview with Dinosoul on this week’s The Music Meetup and to Eleven in its entirety.