B R O T H E R H O O D

Dylan Benoit: DB

Dylan Benoit: DB

I met Dylan on mushy mountain, while visiting the Island of Koh Phangan, Thailand in June of 2014. We bonded instantly, both of us have a passion for life, are well traveled and always seeking adventure.

The following pictures were shot in Joshua Tree desert in April 2016, the interview was recorded by telephone a week later. We each captured our experience through our own lens. Dylan shoots digital, on a Cannon 5D mark 1 while I shoot film, a Nikon F50 my weapon of choice.


MWL : So brother, it’s been a mental few years, it seems as though year on year we grow exponentially, in ways neither of us predict, yet when it manifests we are not surprised. So let's kick this off; what are you most grateful for in your life experience to date?

Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited.

Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited.

DB: Mental to say the least! But in the best possible ways. I am most grateful for, without a doubt in my mind, the people I have met over the years along my travels. It never ceases to amaze me that everywhere I go, I seem to meet the most interesting people, and they in turn introduce me to other incredible people, and the cycle continues. That and my health, I never take my health for granted. 


DB: Every fire begins with a spark. What was the spark that ignited your desire to pursue art and music as a passion and ultimately a career and how do you keep that fire from burning out?

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1   

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

 

MWL: I feel the answer so aptly lies in the question; “passion”. Love & passion are not things you can be taught, they come from within. I found myself constantly going out to watch DJs at night and taking tonnes of pictures every day. In those experiences I found joy, connection and inspiration. The fire started, funnily enough, when I quit playing soccer professionally and started a clothing brand called The Collective Dublin, formerly Primitive Dublin. As for burning out? Passion to pursue what you love is a renewable energy source and there’s always a new way to look at something, a new form of art to discover or a new city and scene to immerse yourself in.


MWL: There are key people I have in my life who inspire me, close friends, collaborators, artists and adventurers, I can hand on heart say you’re one of them. You’ve got a tenacity for life and pursuing your personal legend. (Alchemist Reference) That's rare to find. What do you think shaped that view of the world and what drives you?

Shot by MWL   on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

DB: I was exposed to many cultures through food at a young age by my parents. They were always making or bringing home different dishes from all over the world and because of this in many ways I have developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge and experience that goes beyond the supper table. I am interested in many things and am constantly being introduced to more ideas, concepts and skills that I want to understand and master. A lot of the time the challenge for me is taking a step back and saying “ok, what do you really want to know? Pick the few things that most interest you and will serve you, and engage those first.


DB: As we travel our paths in life we strive to become more refined, worldly and educated but it’s very important that we don’t lose touch with our primal side, our animalistic instincts and desires. What animal do you find you relate the most with?

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

MWL: This is not an easy question, I relate so much to many animals, but if I had to choose then it would be a hawk. Ever since I flew them briefly as a teen I became fascinated. Today I often let my thoughts and dreams soar above the plains of our world, observing from that perspective. It can be a double edged sword, but it’s what keeps me driving forward. I enjoy the hunt, feeling a part of the food chain, feeling fear every day and pursuing my goals.


MWL: What scares you ?

Shot by MWL   on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

DB: This is a difficult question, I had to think about this for some time. My first reaction was spiders, but spiders don’t scare me, they just make me uncomfortable. I’m not afraid of them, I just prefer not to be around them. I think what truly scares me is becoming stagnant, staying still. The idea of waking up and going to the same job day in and day out to line the pockets of someone else is a terrifying thought.


DB: I’d like to ask the same question to you, what scares you?

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

MWL: Dying before I can have the impact I feel I am capable of on the world!


Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

ML: You’ve been to a lot of beautiful places the world over, how does Joshua Tree compare and what did it feel like to be totally exposed, running wild in nature?

DB: I could tell that Joshua Tree was a very old and sacred place, and I felt a connection there almost immediately. However, it became apparent to me very quickly that my experience there was not going to be an easy one. For everything that Joshua Tree gave us that night, it also took something away, as if to show the experience came at a price. From the screen of my phone shattering on a rock, to the battery of the motorcycle dying and the soft sand that almost laid us out, I believe Joshua Tree was keeping tabs on us. I would say it was empowering and grounding at the same time. The act of stripping oneself of all self consciousness and focusing completely on self awareness, is something we rarely get to experience, and it was very insightful.


Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

DB: Tell me about your first experience in Joshua Tree, and what is it that draws you back there over and over again? 

MWL: I first went to Joshua Tree for Thankgiving, I went alone as I wanted some peace and space for thought. I love my own company, it replenishes my energy, so I headed to the desert in a rental car with nothing but a tent and an address. A friend of a friend had a plot of land way out where they say I could pitch my tent. As I drove further into the desert I was blown away. I felt more connected than ever, yet so far away from the so called real world. This is why I love JT so much. It has a stillness and profoundness in the landscape that feels other worldly.

Here’s a piece I wrote specifically on Joshua Tree and what it means to me.


MWL: I know you as a risk taker, but a calculated one. Even when under the influence, you always seem to have a sense of boundaries. What’s the most reckless thing you’ve ever done?

Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

Shot by MWL on 35mm film. Totally raw, unedited

DB: I think what is considered reckless is rather subjective. There are many things I have done in my life that I considered to be completely safe or within an acceptable amount of risk and I know my mother would completely disagree. One example of this would be the 2200km motorcycle journey my brother and I did from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. On that trip even I thought we were being a little reckless at times. But whether I’m jumping out of an airplane in Cuba, dropping acid at the base of Machu Picchu in Peru or drift diving with hammerhead sharks in Galapagos Islands, my risks are, as you say, calculated and I try to avoid being reckless. It just might be that my tolerance for risk is higher than others’ and my reckless threshold is a little different, just as people I consider to be reckless may be perfectly in control.


DB: A few years back, shortly after we met, you took a big risk and packed up your whole life in Dublin. You had a successful career in marketing with a creative agency working in music, but you left it all behind and moved to Los Angeles, where you were completely out of your element. Have you achieved what you set out to achieve when you left Dublin? And if not, what else is left on the table for you in LA?

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

Shot by DB on Cannon 5D mark 1

MWL: I have achieved far more in this short time than I ever dreamt possible. In every area of my life, but most importantly I have learned so much about myself and the world in which I live. I believe when you take a risk to do something you believe then the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it. The key is knowing what you want, then being absolutely relentless in going for that. I am still forming new targets, daily, and feel L.A still has a lot of learnings and growth to offer me, but I am tied to no place. I could just as easily decide to move to Tibet to study with monks in the morning, if the sense of calling within was strong enough.


MWL: We’ve spoken of future plans for travel and life, but what would you say you seek most from this entire experience we call life?

DB: Simple. I seek to learn and to grow. To be a better person and have a positive effect on the people around me.


DB: You live your life day-to- day, keeping your mind open and making the most of the opportunities that present themselves to you. However, I know you always have your eye on the future and what it holds for you. What is the one thing you want to accomplish most in the next 5 years?

MWL: I want to continue build my own self and learn how to commercialise what I create. I want to travel more and see more of Asia. I want to become better in every sense, become a better photographer, partner, footballer, son the list goes on. I really want to find more balance and learn how to listen to my body. I want to run a marathon and set up a charity.


MWL: We talk all the time about how the powers and systems that be fail us as humans and as a society. If there was one message you could communicate to the world, what would it be and why?

DB: I feel that everyone needs to travel more. It is very difficult to appreciate and understand the world around you if you never leave your own country. What is normal and culturally acceptable to you is often not the case elsewhere in the world. If everyone took time, even a little bit of time, and traveled to other countries to see how other people live, to spend a day in their shoes, we would have a lot less hatred, bigotry and ignorance on this planet.


DB: One thing I’ve learned about you over the years is that you are never afraid to speak your mind, ask the hard questions or play devil’s advocate to force people to see things from a perspective other than their own. Is there something that we as the human race need to open our eyes to see that we are currently blind to?

MWL: We are in the matrix (yes the movie) - we are so plugged in all the time that we forget the simple things like connection, exercise, food and water (nourishment) make us most happy. If people stay true to themselves and focus on finding what makes them happy and aim for that every second, then anything they dream can be achieved.

I want everyone to stop being so fucking afraid and realise they can be whatever they want to be.

Dig deep in the search to find what you want, be relentless in your  pursuit and work fucking hard. Ignore the nay sayers, as they’re still plugged into the matrix, for now.