I know it's not nice to have favourites but if I had to chose, I'd say this is the favourite interview I've ever done. Brand new to the Dream Pop scene, Dream Reporter talks about her name, musical influences, song-writing process and the importance of self-belief. She also teases the name of what could possibly be her next single! I think you'll enjoy this one as much as I did!
The name Dream Reporter invokes all sorts of wonderful connotations. What is the story behind it?
It’s funny you ask, I do believe that there’s a lovely kind of kismet about how names come about - what is or seems random ultimately takes on a story all of its own. Especially once it belongs to the wild too which is a most beautiful thing.
I had the moniker Reporter kicking around for a while during the early writing stages, I really liked the way it sounded to say it, I think anything with three syllables has a good chanting potential ha. It’s not a very easy name to differentiate online though, which obviously meant it wasn’t an ideal name for socials and stuff. And as you will appreciate, usually the first thing anyone asks when you tell them you make music is, what does it sound like? And of course I always said Dream pop.
I’m really obsessed by music that has a dream like quality to it, that gives you that feeling of tugging at something deep inside of you. When I listen to certain tracks it’s like I’m suddenly awake and everything else that seemed real is actually the dream. It’s such a crazy intense feeling and that connection that music gives me, to what is primal inside me, to that which is perhaps hidden even from my conscious self, is what drives me to make music and create art.
I’ve always loved all that is mystic and the way in which our subconscious and our desires can have such power over us, how our intuition can be really finely tuned if we trust and let it guide us. It’s so interesting too, exploring that place between what we want and what we dream of so once I thought of it, it seemed like the most obvious thing in the world to add Dream to Reporter. I wholly believe in visualising what you want, who you want to be, visualising it so clearly it’s like watching a film of your own life. It sounds kind of crazy, but I believe when we are clear what we need from ourselves and our path then the universe, it finds a way to provide. Not always in a way we expect either, which is what makes the task of being open and receptive to the signs such a lifelong journey. The most exquisite puzzle.
How long have you been making music? Have you performed in other bands or under any other names?
I have been making music since I could talk haha, I loved to sing songs about anything and everything as a child, just kind of making them up as I went along. We kind of lose that a little as we get older I think, but if i’m honest I still do it haha! I tried learning the piano but my father couldn’t stand the sound of my practising and I lost interest quickly anyway. I taught myself guitar to accompany my first songs, but I always felt self conscious about my abilities so didn’t really push myself. I found it easier to write melodies or hooks in my head or on keys and then just get my talented friends to play them! A bit lazy of me I guess. I didn’t use a name until I started calling myself Reporter, so no, no other names.
Did you study music formally or are you self-taught?
Self taught bb!
Who are your major musical influences? If you could open for one artist or band who would it be?
Oh my gosh just thinking about the second part of this question gives me goosebumps haha! It would be so incredibly hard to pin it down to one i think. But probably The Smashing Pumpkins. Or Fleetwood Mac. Or Interpol. Or Bjork. Or even Frank Ocean. Gosh, it’s too hard haha.
I feel like discovering different artists kind of punctuated my life, and still does. It’s how I think about different periods, what music I was into at that time. Growing up I was lucky that my parents loved music and had pretty eclectic taste. I loved Queen and Bowie and Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Michael Jackson, Leonard Cohen, Earl Klugh, Joan Armatrading, Lauren HIll, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Carly Simon, loved her. Whatever was playing at home I danced and sang my heart out to! I was a huge Mariah Carey fan, truly I would sing to all her records! And films and their soundtracks was a way I discovered a lot of great music too, I listened to the Romeo and Juiett soundtrack almost to death haha! I took a coach to school everyday and the Capital radio was always playing the latest hits, there was a group of us and we’d sit together singing along to all over favorite pop songs on the journey home. Then I discovered Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith and Cocteau Twins and all that incredible 80’s music that dominated the radio. Then the Smashing Pumpkins became my first real musical obsession, and everything grunge I guess. I loved Nirvana, Catatonia, Hole, REM, Green Day, Ash, Coldplay.
Interpol was the next big love of my life, what a band. The Maccabees, Lana Del Rey, Bombay Bicycle Club, Florence and the Machine. Bon Iver. Daughter, Ulrika Spacek, Odesza, I mean there will be hundreds of bands I’m missing here too, just impossible to write down everything!
I’m really the biggest music fan and geek haha, and as an artist I have been inspired by other artists for sure. Probably more individual songs and sounds that have influenced me, and wanting to share my world in a way that reaches other people in the way music reached me.
Are you back in London? Are you planning any gigs in the near future?
I’m on the West Coast at the moment but London is always calling me. It’s where I grew up and discovered music and saw my first shows and so it’s where I feel most deeply connected to my creative energy I think. It’s been amazing getting to explore and discover a different creative family in other places too and I think my writing will definitely benefit from that.
You’ve been touring the States. Which was your favourite venue or gig?
It’s not been a full tour yet but I’ve played in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I loved playing at Brick and Mortar because the sound is incredible for a smaller venue, plus it’s got a really great vibe and attracts a good crowd. I just played Hotel Cafe and that was a very cool experience though very different. You hear a lot of different opinions about playing LA, but I loved that that venue is where music fans come because they really want to hear new music. They pay attention! It was wild.. It was my first LA show and it was a stripped down set that I’d only really had time to rehearse for a hour that day with a new guitarist, so I guess for that reason it feels very special as it was a new experience both playing the songs that way and in a totally new city.
Now that your single is out, what can we expect next? Any plans for a full-length album?
I know everyone talks about the death of the album, but to me the most incredible thing is when you discover a new band or artist and they make a record that is just like the most delicious thing from start to finish. I love when there isn’t one track you want to skip, and that’s a rare thing so I guess what I’m saying is that I set the bar pretty high for myself haha!
In truth it might be a couple of singles yet before the album drops, I’m aiming to make it worth the wait though :)
What is your biggest challenge as a musician? Have you been able to overcome that and if so, how?
As a musician there are quite a lot of hidden challenges, or rather things it’s easy to overlook if you’ve not experienced the process. I can think of three big ones right now.
The first, and it sounds so simple, but it’s just self belief. A true, honest and humble place of self-belief. It takes so much, like just a crazy amount of time and effort to get good at something as abstract in a way as writing songs and finishing them, so you have to really steel yourself for the times of self doubt and the times you just don’t want to do it anymore or you question why anyone would devote themselves to something so likely to fail! You have to know that there are those days and that that is normal and a part of the process. And you have to dust yourself off and try again.
The second is treading the delicate balance of knowing when something still needs work and when it’s kind of done. And I say kind of because you can nit pick forever, but at a certain point doing more will not make it any better. At the same time, you can know your music so well or be so familiar with things being a certain way that you get a bit closed off to possibilities. Or tweaks that help progress things. So it’s quite a journey getting to your own individual place of being open enough to let something be what it needs to be while not getting lost down endless rabbit holes, knowing just when to call it time. You also soon discover that as much as deadlines are a pain, they can also be a saviour in that regard!
The third is finding a way to balance yourself in a job that for the most part doesn’t have a routine or structure in the sense that other people, unless they’re also creatives, will understand. I find it can be a very solitary existence, because you have to be so disciplined about sticking to your own path.
I think as fans we underestimate how much time, effort and money goes into the song-writing and recording process. The next couple of questions are about that.
Do you write your own songs? Can you describe your song-writing process?
Yeah I do write all my own songs, and arrangements. Songs come together in parts for me, no particular order but roughly the lyrics, the melody and hooks are first then the arrangements and the harmonies.
I have a good practise of making myself write my thoughts or feelings down as they come to me, so it’s not unusual that a song comes out almost fully formed. I think of lyrics as a form of poetry and when I think about expressing those emotions a kind of melody or rhythm will usually be in mind. So I start there and then build everything else out around it.
Which studio did you record in?
I recorded most of my tracks at Urchin Studio in London, and a few bits here and there at my home studio.
Did you record with a band or do you play all the instruments on your tracks?
I’m very fortunate that a lot of my friends are excellent musicians who were happy to play parts for me if I needed it.
Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?
You can waste a lot of time worrying about not being good enough in one way or another, particularly regarding body image. Looking at your idols and even your peers and how they seem to be perfect because they have it together in every area. The reality is, every path is different and you probably don’t have it together in every area at the beginning. But no one does, so don’t sweat it. It’s only as you move forward, when you take that first step by deciding to start, because as David Bowie said, “the truth is, of course, that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time”. It’s the same for everyone, no matter how good or accomplished they are, it never feels like you’re “there”. So you have to know what your own personal goals are, and start with that.
And finally, if you could tell your fans to listen to just one track, what would it be?
It would be "Medicine", but that’s not out yet so I should say the latest single, "It Stays"!