Local Artist Spotlight: Dreamdecay

photo by Joel Andrew Simard

Leading up until the Upstream Music Fest + Summit, a Northwest regionally focused festival with over 300 acts, KEXP will be featuring a new local artist from the lineup with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. Today’s post features Seattle post-punk outfit Dreamdecay, performing Saturday, May 13  at 10 p.m on the False Prophet stage (curated by KEXP’s own DJ Sharlese).

Dreamdecay has long thrived on tension in their music. From their riotous 2012 debut Fern through 2013’s brooding N V N V N V, they’ve continually sought out new ways to push themselves sonically. On their latest record, , the band explores the feeling of being torn between two different cultures. The music reflects that, with distorted and mangled riffs that feel like they pull apart and away from each other. We chatted with the band about their records’ heavy themes, changing course from their previous work, and their intense live performances.

The title of your album, , is an amalgamation of the English word “you” and Spanish word “tú”. You’ve noted before that symbolizes the experience of being stuck between two cultures. Could you expand on the inception of that idea and why you chose those two words specifically?

The lyrical theme of the record is focused around a strive for legitimacy within identity. For me personally, that is centered around my Mexican-American background. I am Mexican on both sides of my family, but we are also American. I’ve struggled to feel in touch or apart of both sides of my culture. This middle area where people exist trying to find balance or belonging on either side is were was originated. That’s just my experience. Though the title is obviously pulled from that example, it shouldn’t be limited to that experience. Originally we were thinking the title “You” would be nice, but Alex came up with the idea of combining the English and Spanish words because it fit with the theme lyrically and also visually with the ven-diagram logo on the front of the record.

I read in an interview that was intentionally a departure from your last record N V N V N V, focusing less on being heavy and more on the dynamics of the band. What prompted that shift in the band?

We noticed we were naturally drifting toward more melody and using more dynamics. From there we decided to embrace that as it came. We never really sat down to organize a plan, we just allowed the band to evolve how ever it may.

Much like the theme of the record, the music itself feels like it’s constantly pulling itself apart in different directions. Was this something you thought intentionally about as you were writing or did it come up naturally? How did the writing process formally start for the record?

It was more of thing that happened naturally. We didn’t really give it much thought until after recording was done. It was a really nice realization to hear the record sonically fit the theme as well as lyrically. Writing in general started very close to the release of N V and lasted up until late 2016.

Alongside your sound Dreamdecay has a very defined aesthetic. Do you do your own artwork or do you have a collaborator? How would you define the imagery of your album artwork, posters, and band photos?

All of the visual art tied to the band I (Justin Gallego) do myself. Recently I’ve worked with a couple collaborators. Gavin Tiemeyer did an illustration that’s inside the sleeve, and Emma Bagley contributed to a poster I made for our most recent tour.

I feel like, if anything, I try to avoid defining it. It feels important to me to leave it open to interpretation than to have painted myself into a corner. I’ve always just tried to make stuff that I myself enjoy looking at. I do think It’s been cool to see the band’s visual identity grow along side it’s sound.

You’ve just come back from an extensive east coast and west coast tour. Playing so many dates and stopping through an array of cities, did that shape your performance in anyway? Did you come away with any key takeaways as a band?

Not really. Every show is different, but we’re pretty set in what we do, which is honestly just focused on playing our songs as well as possible no matter where we are.

Dreamdecay has a reputation for your intense and heavy live show. For those who will be seeing you at Upstream for the first time, what should they anticipate?

I think our music has intensity, and we take performing seriously, but only in the sense of doing justice to our songs. We try not to take ourselves too seriously or be “intense” personalities on stage. I think we like to let our music speak for itself, and if that creates a certain atmosphere or takes us with it, then we’re okay with that.



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