Photo by Bob Boilen of NPR - All Rights Reserved
Dylan Hundley treats every performance as if it were her last. As the lead singer of Lulu Lewis, the New York-based rock band she founded in 2015 with her husband, guitarist Pablo Martin, Dylan has finally unlocked her full creative potential. She’s determined to do as much as she can, but savor each and every moment.
Since I’ve known Dylan, this kind of tenacity has left an indelible impression. We are conditioned to think that we absolutely must achieve everything as early in life as possible, the pressure of it sitting heavily on our chests. There is a visibility issue. Too often all we see is an endless scroll of accomplishments and the best possible versions of our lives shared on social media. We can forget that there’s more to life than a 30 Under 30 list. So it feels particularly revelatory to watch a woman identify what it is she wants, and make a choice to pursue it — particularly something as bold as start a band — in her 40s. Through her very existence, Dylan inspires women of all ages to know that there’s so much of our stories left to be written.
Dylan was drawn to perform from a young age, getting her start as an actress (most notably appearing in Whit Stillman’s 1990 debut Metropolitan). Her passion led her down various paths over the coming years, though not without stumbling points. The various obstacles she had to overcome — from self-doubt and society’s stereotypical expectations placed on women to alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic abuse — were all puzzle pieces, she says, that together helped build who she is now. The path that she took was unconventional. “Front a band” wasn’t exactly a bullet point on a checklist of things she thought she was “supposed to do” by certain points in her life or a finish line looming in the distance. But she’s here now and she’s doing it. It’s a humbling reminder that we don’t have to have everything figured out before we’re 30, and even if we think we do, it’s never too late to change our minds, never too late to start over.
On stage, Hundley transforms into a wild animal. “When somebody is completely ripping themselves open and showing themselves bare, that’s a profound gift, and it’s also very liberating as a performer. That is what I aim to achieve,” she says.
Drawing inspiration from a range of influences, from brash post punk to goth to soul, she creates her own unique aesthetic that she presents with pure candor. There is strength in vulnerability, and it is one of Dylan’s most striking qualities, one that draws people — myself included — back to shows night after night. No two performances are the same; no performance is ever phoned in. She becomes a woman possessed by a riotous spirit that cracks her body wide open, and it is utterly enthralling. Her voice careens from syrupy sweet inflections to impassioned screams to raspy whispers, electricity coursing through her. She is completely in the moment and as free as anyone could ever hope to be.
Dylan Hundley is refreshingly raw, invigorating, and empowering, a reminder that it’s never too late to follow your passion and be true to yourself. - Carrie Courogen - Conde Nast and the 77 Music Club