PREMIERE: DREAM CITY
Written by Amber Ramsay Artwork by Linnea Freeman
Dream City are a relatively new name in the Brisbane music scene, however the duo are already making footprints in an authentic self-created genre unlike anything else around them. The band comprises of Demetry Malahoff and Bradley Vickery, who both collaborated their multi-instrumentalism and production skills to bring us their debut single Pancakes. The track brings forward a sense of deep clarity, while still showcasing beautifully immense details and sounds. I had a chat with the duo to pick their minds and talk more about what we can expect to see at their showcase at this years Against The Grain festival.
Firstly, can you give me a bit of background on what drove the two of you to start making this kind of work together?
Thank you! Initially it was a matter of us meeting at university. We found out we had a similar taste in music (Sigur Ros, James Blake, Chet Baker) and decided to start writing together. We had a rehearsal together and created a washed out guitar heavy song. I think we both had a really nice time that day and continued to play music together until there were eventually songs.
You mentioned that Dream City is more of a concept rather than just a vessel for producing music. Can you describe this concept and how this is carried through the music?
I wanted a way to write lyrics that weren’t about me so I started singing stream of thought and wrote it down later in Dream City. A theme started to occur which made us think that we could possibly tie some of the songs together. From there we blended a lot of the songs in our set through using reverbs and loops. We tried to allow all the songs to occupy the same space to illustrate that the lyrical content is describing one whole city and stories that come out of this city. Lately the songs have been about developing specific characters which we will continue writing about in later songs. To put it simply we are trying to create a city through music. We want all of these characters to try to make their world a better place and try to create a sort of utopia.
Could you offer some examples of a few things that are a necessity to this utopian world you are building?
For now we’re writing about our personal desires for our own world. Along the lines of treating every human equally. We also touch on things which are currently very perfect. We borrow from the romantics here with themes of nature and love. After writing this first collection of songs we want to push into deeper territory.
Pancakes is a really strong example of what we can expect from Dream City in the future. What inspired the intricacy of this track, in particular the imagery in the lyrics and the instrumentation?
We write nearly all our songs by playing anything close to us. Then I will sing something over it, record it, and write it down later. Pancakes sounded very sweet to me, and the arpeggiator reminded me of Emily Sprague’s modular synth pieces which she puts up on YouTube. The idea of cooking pancakes in dappled morning light fits in with how these sounds were making me feel. At the time I was listening to a lot of spoken word poetry on Bandcamp because I was interested in breaking away from cliché. I think that also influenced the vocals lyrically and rhythmically. I love poetry that makes me feel something through explaining a place.
You both worked on the production of this single. Do you think that was a large part of conveying the track in the direction you wanted?
For sure. We both had a strong sense of the direction and sound we wanted to achieve for this track. Having both done production work previously, it was an easy choice for both of us produce the song and keep the process in house. What does a Dream City live performance entail? Do you find it hard to convey this sense of clarity and minimalism on stage while also trying to maintain the band's concept? At our live shows we try to have something else going on while we play to allow people the opportunity to look away from us playing the music. Projections, someone painting, actors, dancers. Generally we want them to improvise to Dream City, but occasionally we give direction. The clarity is always going to be lost at moments in live shows while people get distracted. The songs are written to be like photographs really. So, listeners are able to be distracted, come back, and still understand what’s happening. This may change later when we develop from explaining characters, into describing what they’re doing to build their utopia. It is a challenge to play some of the songs due to there being only two of us. We make sure that the essence of each song is there. But we are experimenting with new ways to develop our live performance to balance both aspects equally.
Catch Dream City at our Against the Grain Festival in August.