Dylan Cohen takes to the streets of his beloved Toronto in his new single and music video Alleyways — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
“I’ve always had a soft spot and fascination for Toronto’s laneways,” Cohen reveals. “It’s like the streets could be so busy and overwhelming, and then you and your friends could all hang a turn into an alleyway and have the space to yourselves. The term became a metaphor in the song for ‘things that connect us all’ but are sometimes unseen.
“Toronto is this living, breathing thing … It’s a product of all our dreams coming together to contribute to this crazy, colourful, beautiful, hopeful home for all. When that mixes together, and we all respect each other’s reasons for choosing to be here, something absolutely magical happens. It’s more than multiculturalism … It’s interculturalism. It’s Canada. It’s us.”
Cohen, currently putting the finishing touches on his debut album Just for Tomorrow Part 1, has first-hand experience on how the city can be a haven and foundation, allowing people to thrive beyond their dreams. “Toronto saved my life,” he says. “I moved here at 12 years old from a small town where I was bullied a lot for being gay. I came to the city with wide eyes.
“I started writing Alleyways years and years ago, and kept adding bits and pieces of life lived here as time went on. The first line came to me while looking at the skyline of the financial district from a rooftop in Cabbagetown. ‘Town of the cabbage, now homes filled with riches, under the shadows, of the massive, financial district … ’ It formed the foundation for writing a song about how much the city has transformed.”
The visual for Alleyways came about thanks to Cohen’s Harris Institute audio production classmates, working in collaboration with Ryan Tremblay, co-founder of Juno Award-winning video production studio Route 11, whose previous clients include Grimes, Janelle Monáe, Sofi Tukker and Ria Mae.
“Once the first cut was done, I knew the video needed more,” says Cohen. “It had me dancing and performing all over the city, but I wanted the video to represent not just my love for Toronto, but the wider Toronto community and my place in it. I posted online that I wanted people to send me their cell phone footage of anything shot in Toronto. People sent me videos of them dancing at festivals, biking around with friends, filming out of subway windows, skateboarding … All sorts of stuff. When it came together, it was like a time-capsule of Toronto at this point in history.”