Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
Bedbug Dustin J Watson credit

Snapshots of a new era

13 March 2024, 12:00
Words by Amy Albinson

Original Photography by Dustin J Watson and Allston Pudding

Behind the bedbug moniker, LA-based Dylan Gamez Citron conjures up the wistful escapism of rose-tinted nostalgia in cinematic detail.

With their long-awaited fourth album marking a significant evolution for the once solo lo-fi project, bedbug returns as a glistening fully-fledged indie-rock band.

pack your bags, the sun is growing introduces a world in the midst of apocalypse. The winter is never ending, tornados rage outside, and the sun is filling the sky but, inside the record’s warm soundscape, the glowing embers of young love are intricately detailed; alive and well.

Dylan Gamez Citron grew up in the suburbs an hour or so outside of New York City. Reflecting on their early introduction to music long before bedbug took shape, they recall “there wasn't much of a music scene there and so I really did get pretty into music on the computer on my own for the most part.” Listing off sites like Bandcamp, Pitchfork and Tumblr as early sources for musical discovery, they continue, “a lot of the bands that would be around were like cover bands, they would play like classic rock stuff and I felt like I was listening to a bunch of… old 90s indie rock and stuff like that”.

Inspired by the heart on sleeve lyricism of artists like Waxahatchee, Citron took to writing songs in secret. “If I were to tell people that I was making music there would be an expectation off the gate that I would be making quote-unquote ‘normal stuff’,” they explain, adding that it felt a little too personal to share and risk a negative response. “It was more about making it rather than sharing it.”


While these first recordings were shared under the name Fairweather Currents, they’re quick to note that those are “so scraped from the internet”. Eager to dismiss their younger, more embarrassing beginnings, on later work made with a friend in high school, they laugh: “none of it should have seen the light of day.” It took a move to Boston for college that marked the beginnings of bedbug. On why this project has seemed to sit much better in hindsight, they respond succinctly: “it’s the exact line when I stopped being embarrassed of what I was creating and started being like ‘I think I did a good enough job at this’.”

“I went to Northeastern [University] and I was studying economics and I hadn’t been in a city with a big music scene ever,” they share. “There was a recording studio on campus and so I would help out there and then they did like booking events and stuff so I’d help out as well… and then I moved to the part of town where there were a lot of shows happening in basements and things like that and pretty much met all my friends there.”

Emerging as bedbug in 2016 with first album if i got smaller grew wings and flew away for good, Citron has formed something of a cult internet following around the project in the years since, though somewhat anonymously. ”Even in Boston, I don’t think I was really known as being bedbug. I was playing a lot, but I think I was mostly known because I was booking music in my house and so I had a lot of people come to my house to play music. I was going to a lot of shows and I think that’s what really did it.”

Bedbug Allston Pudding1

Immersed in the DIY scene both online and off, Citron’s witnessed a change in attitude among their contemporaries. Pointing at their own Bandcamp username ‘LinkedIn’, they laugh, “it dates me a little bit because back in the day… you could do really goofy stuff like that and it wouldn’t really [matter].” Now, as many acts have turned their attention to being easily discoverable and taken seriously, Citron admits that some of the charm has been lost: “you do lose some of that goofy stuff that doesn’t directly add to streaming and in fact kind of like hurts in a way.” On whether they’re going to update the tongue-in-cheek username, they smile “I haven’t changed it yet and I don’t think I’m going to… I definitely see that there's like a trend though where like a lot of bands are going really business mode.”

Finishing up their undergrad in Boston, the pandemic marked a big change for Citron as they reconsidered life in the city and their job prospects. “I started substitute teaching, loved education, loved being in the school, and decided I wanted to figure out what to do.” Following a masters program for counselling and with a lot of family out in California, they made the decision in 2022 to move across the country to Los Angeles to start practising. “A lot of my family is Mexican-American out here, and I’d never lived out here ever and I’ve always wanted to move and live here, so it kind of all came together,” they offer. “I was like, I don’t know if I’m going to have an opportunity like this again to like, really pack everything up… so yeah, that’s when I did it. It was a huge move, I was not expecting it to be so different, but I think I made it work.”

Notably, Citron’s found the music scene pretty different when compared to Boston. “It's a lot bigger, and there's a lot of bars, and it's not quite as like ad hoc,” they remark. “I feel like in Boston it was really easy if you just wanted to book a show you just booked a show… Generally there were like almost too many bands in Boston and not enough places to play. Here, I feel there's so many bands but there's like so many places to play, it's almost hard to just find people to come to them.” While a DIY ethos seems to sit at the core of their bedbug project, a sense of community is a significant element. “Conveniently because I was moving, I think it really sent it home that I needed to do something a little bit more special,” they admit, returning attention to new album pack your bags, the sun is growing.

Partly created as a goodbye to friends in Boston, it marked bedbug’s first time recording in a studio, a move away from the bedroom pop sound of their earlier three albums. Citron also describes this evolution as feeling natural. “I think that the bridge for sure was the little EP that was recorded in my basement and was like a full band but still kind of like lofi... Realistically, I would have loved to record a full record like that with new songs, but because I was moving everyone wanted to have like a really nice thing to end on and so I agreed”. Reflecting on the resulting album, Citron grins, “thank goodness I did, it turned out really beautiful so I’m really glad. I think that in general, even when I was doing stuff acoustic, a lot of the songwriting had stayed the same.”

This move and Citron’s own life experiences have made their mark on the new record, most notably bedbug’s day job in a school. “I see everyday a lot of things that happen to students or people in the world that don't necessarily feel like they are fully in their control, but then I see the kind of ways that they can still live their lives and have full feelings with people and things like that, I think that I was drawing on that a lot.”

It’s this inspiration that has created an apocalyptic secondary narrative lying at the core of the album, an overarching story of characters continuing to live their lives despite a changing world around them. “I wanted it to be about what if there was something that was happening in the world that was changing that was almost apocalyptic but not necessarily scary but it changed a lot of things,” Citron pauses. “Like the sun is growing and so people were moving… there's like a lot of allegories and references to tornados and things like that, but none of them necessarily seem like scary in a way, it's just like, the catalyst for the rest of the story that i'm telling.”

Bedbug live BW

There’s a cinematic feel to bedbug’s releases, honing in on the minutiae of day to day experiences in succinct, filmic snapshots. Referencing a love of ‘coming of age’ type pop culture, they continue, “I’m passed my coming of age prime, but I think that those stories are still really like emotional and like emotionally driven, and I think it's like such an important part that like everybody kind of went through so I probably take a lot from that.”

One touchpoint in particular is a favourite book called ‘Portraits of Chinese women in revolution’ by Agnes Smedley. “The author went to China during the revolution and she interviewed like hundreds of women and she wrote short stories about the archetypes of [people] that she came across,” Citron muses. “None of them give away too much about the individual person, but a lot of them are drawing from real people.” Giving the example of socialites married to husbands involved in international business, Smedley found inspiration in the shared loneliness or feelings of internal conflict about the new Chinese culture and the traditional culture they were raised in. Continuing, Citron notes, “I really liked that idea of writing as it doesn’t give too much away about the subject, and so it’s not me writing about an individual character but I’m taking a lot of inspiration from a lot of different people in an individual story and that's kind of how I think I've avoided giving away too much.”

While pack your bags, the sun is growing isn’t wholly autobiographical, more a fictionalised amalgamation of the experiences Citron’s witnessed through others, they add, “I think that for me, a lot of the songs are a little bit sentimental or like nostalgic… but also a little bit wistful or lonely as well.”

Bedbug Dustin J Watson credit 2

Now entering a new era as a fully fledged indie rock band, they’re quick to confess that “everyone had to be very accommodating to me.” Describing their approach to writing songs as “weird,” Citron recalls how they needed the band to be flexible in their approach to recording. “When I write songs, the structure is really important and I don’t understand how I really do it, it's just a thing that I've always done. I normally came to the band with the lyrics done and the guitar part done, and they figured everything out from there.” Describing the process as not fully collaborative, they do reveal it was “a more collaborative process than I was used to... a lot of those songs were intended to be with a full band, and so in my head I was leaving space for drums and leaving space for a lead guitar, so I think it happened pretty smoothly actually.”

Although previous releases have largely remained solo endeavours, community has remained at the core of bedbug’s output over the years. When pulling a band together, Citron admits “I could only play with friends I think. I think if I was doing it with session musicians I'd feel too uncomfortable.” They nod to the people who have helped bring this record to life, even outside of the recording process. “I’m not doing it for money anyways, any of the success I've had has been super random or been out of the goodwill of other people… Jamie [Halliday]’s been helping with PR a lot, but I'm pretty sure it's just because Jamie and I have been friends on the internet for so long and like, Jamie believes in the record.”

On what the ultimate dream for bedbug is, Citron’s hopeful but also resolutely realistic. “It’s never going to pay itself off, but I do hope that it continues to connect with people. I want to write something that preserves itself a little bit.” Quite simply, they share that a lot of the joy that comes from bedbug is through strangers discovering the songs and enjoying their output. “That’s been my goal, that's kind of always been my goal, and the bigger [bedbug] gets, the more people maybe will feel that way, so that's me shooting for the stars I guess.”

pack your bags, the sun is growing is out 15 March via Disposable America.

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