Days before his tragic death, Mac Miller tweeted about Dylan Reynolds’ song, “No Control.”
Go listen to Dylan Reynolds – No Control. It’s a beautiful song. Thank you.
— Mac (@MacMiller) September 1, 2018
After the rapper’s death on Sept. 7, The Late Late Show host James Corden was scrolling through Mac Miller’s Twitter feed and saw that tweet. Corden listened to “No Control” and “fell in love with his music.” Then he, too, tweeted out Reynolds’ song.
I never met Mac Miller but was a fan of his spirit. Seeing this tweet and then listening to this song today is heart breaking. Its so sad. x https://t.co/JwopG6JnWv
— James Corden (@JKCorden) September 7, 2018
Reynolds, best friends with Malcolm McCormick since age 5 — who was featured in our remembrance of Mac Miller — saw Corden’s tweet, but barely reacted at the time.
“I was in bad shape,” says the 27-year-old Pittsburgher. “I was in mourning.”
Then in mid-October, he got a direct message on Twitter from Corden.
“He sent me a long message saying that he found my song through Malcolm’s tweets,” Reynolds tells us. “He gave me his condolences and said how much he loved the song and he’s a big fan now. He said, if you want to play the show, we would love that.”
Reynolds didn’t see the message when it was sent, because he was getting cancer treatment that day. He is continuing a course of immunotherapy every six months for two years. (“I’m pretty much back to normal,” he says of his health. “I think. I hope.”)
But he read the message the next day and tweeted back to Corden that he would love to do the show.
The poignant and emotional song “No Control” was one the 27-year-old Pittsburgher wrote halfway through his chemo treatment. “I wrote about how I was feeling, coming close to death in a way. I wrote it really quickly in about 30 minutes,” he says. But after Mac Miller’s death, the lyrics seemed to speak of other things.
Heaven is closer it seems/you’ve always known it/I’m just learning it somehow.
“It’s kind of taken on a bit of a new meaning,” Reynolds notes, adding, “That was Malcolm’s favorite that I wrote.”
Reynolds flew to Los Angeles on Nov. 13 and had a rehearsal the next day on the set of The Late Late Show. “We put the whole band together in one day,” he says, “with these incredible backup singers and a piano player and bass player.”
They taped the performance at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on Nov. 15 for airing that night.
Arriving at the studio at 8:45 that morning for “a whole day of sound checks and camera checks,” he says, “I was really nervous. James actually knocked on the door, came into my dressing room and was telling me ‘we can shoot multiple takes and there’s nothing to be nervous about.’”
Once he hit the stage in what he describes as an intimate environment with a responsive studio audience, Reynolds’ nervousness vanished.
And once it was over? “It was kind of a mixed feeling,” he tells us. “I was relieved it was over and at the same time I didn’t want it to be, it was so much fun.”
Throughout, Reynolds felt the presence of his long-time friend, Mac Miller. “To be honest, I kinda feel like he’s with me all the time. I felt like I was performing for him.”
“Obviously it’s difficult,” he says of the last couple of months. “The first person I thought to reach out to after hearing from James Corden was Malcolm and I know he would have enjoyed that more than anyone.”
Reynolds was immediately impressed with Corden. “Once he got in touch with me personally it was pretty surreal and I could just tell that he was a very genuine person,” says Reynolds. “In person, even more so. He kind of reminded me of Malcolm.”
It wasn’t the first time Reynolds has been asked to perform since his friend’s death. He was also thrust into the spotlight at the benefit concert for Mac Miller in Los Angeles on Oct. 31.
He opened for the show that included Chance the Rapper, John Mayer and Travis Scott and other artists who paid tribute to the Pittsburgh rapper. Funds were raised for The Mac Miller Circles Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation to help youth in underserved communities realize their full potential through art and community building.
The concert was incredible, says Reynolds. “It was amazing. To be honest with you, I was much more nervous then — all the other artists, the big crowd and it was being live-streamed.”
Once again on that night, his departed friend seemed to be with him. “It was impossible not to feel his presence, how much love was pouring out of people. That was one of the most loving environments I’ve ever been a part of,” Reynolds says. “The videos and the testimonies — it was overwhelming.”
Since the concert and especially after his appearance on the Late Late Show, Reynolds has been written about in Billboard and Variance, among other publications. Warner Brothers tweeted out his song.
“The past couple of days there has definitely been a lot of attention and it’s very bittersweet obviously,” he says. He’d just gotten back home from L.A. the night before.
How’s he doing now?
“It’s painful, really painful, but there’s also been a lot of growth. I’ve become closer to some people and it’s really beautiful to watch people come together,” Reynolds says.
“After a tragedy, so many people become inspired to be kinder, better people, better friends. There’s a lot of beauty that‘s come out of it and also a lot of pain.”