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Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Pop EDM


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"Synth-pop CD has makings of a classic"

The categorizing and constant re-categorizing of music has become something of an unofficial Olympic sport these days. It's as if you need a GPS and hand-written directions to navigate the modern musical universe.

New sub-genres of music are not being created any quicker than they were years ago. But with the ability to self-produce becoming easier by the minute, artists are attaching qualifiers and adjectives to their sounds to stand out from the ever-crowded pack.

Victoria artist Aaron Bergunder, who performs as Dreamboat, doesn't like all the over-analysis.

"I like to call myself synth-pop," the 24-year-old said. "That's basically all it is."

Synth-pop isn't new; it dates back to the early 1980s, when performers such as Yaz, Duran Duran and the Human League were storming the pop charts. Bergunder channelled those and numerous other influences for Buddies, his third release and second full-length album under the Dreamboat moniker.

Bergunder adopted for the recording an ice-cool delivery -- a staple of many synth-pop singers, from Alison Moyet to Marc Almond. He recorded all of the vocal tracks on Buddies in the living room of his apartment. The remainder was recorded on either his laptop or the laptop of Chris Long, the producer and performer known as Longshanks.

In the past, Bergunder quietly released Dreamboat music for free over the Internet or on burned

CD-Rs he passed along to his friends.

Believing that his new songs deserved a more professional sheen, he enlisted Long as co-producer, and the two spent the better part of two years editing, mixing and recording the nine songs that appear on Buddies.

"I had written a whole batch of songs, and had them at some almost-

finished stage," Bergunder said.

"He helped me polish them up and made me sound fancy."

Fancy, indeed: Dreamboat's latest has all the makings of a club classic.

Bergunder, who is originally from Nanaimo, has been the subject of great critical acclaim in the past, thanks primarily to his work as the singer-guitarist for Victoria's adored indie rockers Colourbook.

The band played its last show at the 2009 edition of Rifflandia, though talk of a reunion persists among its fans -- even though members have either moved elsewhere or play in new projects such as Slam Dunk and Freak Heat Wave.

"We made an agreement that we'll never actually break up," Bergunder said. "It's not done, but none of us know what it is. We're all extremely busy with other stuff right now to even think about it."

Bergunder has two other groups, the Sentimentals and Nail Salon, as well as a full-time job as "graphics guy" at Victoria design agency thenumber creative.

"I always have multiple things on the go, so it's hard to ever pick one and call it the main one. Dreamboat still is, in my mind, a side project, because I'm so casual about it. I rarely dedicate time to practising. It has always been me screwing around on my computer, basically. People enjoying it made me push it to the forefront a little bit more, I guess."

Dreamboat has roots in an earlier Bergunder project, Karaoke MF, which lasted until 2007. Both projects share a similar esthetic in the live setting, Bergunder said, in that they expound on his sincere love of singing over pre-recorded tracks.

When he performs live as Dreamboat, he simply pulls the vocal tracks off his studio mixes and runs the bed tracks through his iPod. He's a one-man band, in a sense, similar in some ways to John O'Regan, another Canadian indie rocker who fashioned for himself a successful glam-pop persona.

"Everybody constantly asks me what I think of Diamond Rings, because we're sort of the same in a few ways," Bergunder said.

"He writes catchy pop songs, but my real beef with him is that he plays guitar on stage. I think it's a huge disconnect from being a frontman.

"There isn't a whole band playing the tracks, so why am I only hearing the guitar live? My whole idea from the beginning has been not to have keyboards on stage, because they are only going to keep me from performing crazier."

Dreamboat exists as Bergunder's schedule permits. But should someone abroad take an interest in what he's doing, Bergunder would happily give himself over to it as a career.

"I wouldn't say it's a goal -- I don't actively work towards it -- but it would be extremely nice if it happened. I know I would regret it if I didn't jump on the opportunity."
- Times Colonist


"Dreamboat", 2007

"Fun Fools EP", 2009

"Buddies", 2010



Most of it began as a joke. Aaron Bergunder started playing with electronic music years ago under the moniker KaraokeMF (MotherFucker) to make silly remixes of his more focused rock band, Colourbook. As time went on, KaraokeMF grew into a songwriting outlet for Bergunder, despite the material being shallow and vapid and mostly about sweat and ejaculate.
Gradually the project evolved and grew into a new name, more polished sound and concise aesthetic. Dreamboat began playing live shows: karaoke-esque performances to mixed down instrumentals on his iPod where he would make out with his own reflection, or choke himself with a mic cable while pretending to jerk off on the crowd. Nothing fancy. Word spread more while Bergunder toured across Canada with Colourbook. Friends became fans, fans friends, strangers lovers. He released the Fun Fools EP in 2009, whetting appetites with promise of an LP on the horizon. Colourbook saw its slow demise and Aaron dedicated himself to the Dreamboat project even further. Latching on to friend and electronic wizard Chris Long (Longshanks), the two nitpicked for another year and a half before releasing Buddies in december 2010 to immediate praise. "Makings of a classic" as described by Mike Devlin of the Times Colonist. Aaron sits humbled.