Dreamshow
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Dreamshow

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Pop EDM

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"Bringing the dream back to pop music"

The cover of Dreamshow’s debut album shows a closed box. It’s psychedelically colorful and sits on a plain white bed. “It’s an ecstatic thing in a quiet place,” Constantine Anastasakis, the band’s singer and songwriter, said. Daniel Fishkin, who plays bass, added, “The Dreamshow project is delivering on the promise of pop music.”

It’s the kind of goal that sounds like a manifesto, but there’s a wry, humane side to the two musicians that comes out when they talk. Fishkin said, “The promise of pop music is vast, it wants to save your life. It wants to make you happy. It wants to make you successful and rich and in love, and make your life amazing.”

The pair is not condescending, and despite the big ideas, they remain unpretentious. For all the disdain a university community might throw at pop musicians, these two, or any of the four band members, are not shallow thinkers. “You can’t make the perfect pop song. What makes it beautiful is reaching for it,” said Fishkin. The band’s name is Dreamshow, and its goal is pretty much the same.

The mastermind is Anastasakis, a graduate from Bard who majored in philosophy and comparative literature. He has musical roots as a jazz drummer, but now, as a singer and a songwriter, doesn’t feel the need to get deep into the academia of it. During the interview, Anastasakis’ eyes were often wide, and he spoke in a slow, ruminating tone of voice.

“I don’t really write music,” he said. “I was initially brought to music mostly by studying Kanye West, and the way he took samples, old songs, slowed them down or sped them up, and put drums on top of them.”

Their first album is synthpop, not rap, but the lo-fi approach still shows through. “Good Morning,” which will be released next month, has a crackly authenticity that mingles with the vocals and instrumentals. It’s like an imaginary nostalgia for the vinyls and cassettes that most students now never really used.

The songs are light to listen to—the music upbeat and confirming. The melodies, simple and repetitive, tend to be playful rather than mysterious. Hearing the tracks for the first time, they sound sweet and unoffensive, professional but largely unremarkable.

But on a second listen, it seems that Dreamshow’s songs aren’t so much about the music as the idea. The tunes, in fact, turn out to be cherries on top of a much more satisfying cake.

The music is meant to say something that listeners can relate to. “It actually wants to talk about an emotion, which is difficult when you’re on the stage,” Anastasakis said. A lot of the communication happens in songwriting, so when he composes, he focuses on a single subject. Anastasakis continued, “All my favorite pop songs talked about one thing, and all the lyrics in the song were just descriptions for or metaphors of that one thing.”

The standout track is a down-tempo, dubbed-up lament. It’s called “Smoke Pot,” and when the band played it at its first live show on Nov. 15, the crowd was on the right wavelength. A member of the audience said afterwards, “The other songs were okay, but that one—that one’s a hit!”

A faceless vocal sample forms the background, slowed down beyond recognition with a pitch that’s pulled into an unsettling harmony. Anastasakis said it was taken from a Sleigh Bells YouTube clip. The crackle and offbeat vibe isn’t too far from the more underground sounds of Flying Lotus or James Blake, and the herbal subject matter fits into those scenes. But there’s an innocent simplicity to Dreamshow’s take that makes it sympathetic.

Over an airy vocal harmony, Anastasakis croons with comic repetition, “All I wanna do is smoke weed and stay high.” Fishkin points out that it’s just a desire. The song is about a dream of carefree existence. “Walk down the street. Smoke some weed after,” the verse goes, before easing into a lugubrious scat riff.

In more academic spheres, such blithe starry eyes might be frowned upon. Certainly, listeners have to wonder whether the dream of pop music isn’t just a carrot dangling from the end of society’s stick.

“I think a lot of the important things, if they’re not attainable, that’s okay,” Fishkin said. Anastasakis discussed the sight of someone scratching a lottery ticket and how big pop stars micromanage their shows, right down to taking a step forward or back on the stage.

At the moment, the band is trying to finalize a PR agreement and finish off its website. “You’re so far deep into an economic system you wouldn’t even believe,” Anastasakis said. He sleeps at his girlfriend’s apartment, rehearses during the day, and lives off forwarded money from their label, The Serve, LLC.

“Gun Tattoo (Ode to Katy Perry)” begins with a bouncy synth and a silly chant: “Wake up in the morning, feel good. Go to work, feel bad.”

Anastasakis talked about the song’s eponymous inspiration with admiration. He said she spent 10 years trying different things before making it big. The music keeps going and breaks down into almost a rap: “I wanna fuck with the stars. I know what I want.” Below the pretty tunes is the sound of a philosophy grad living in a big, big city.

“Sometimes pop music speaks to people … they dream of control or fireworks or whatever,” Anastasakis said. “It’s not about nature or anything that’s primal or elemental or basic. It’s that more complicated Freudian civilization shit that you come up against in your own personal life.”

As the interview wrapped up, Fishkin crouched at a tool box and threw something to me—a little homemade electronic contraption, with a light sensor, a switch, and a tiny speaker cone. I played with it for a moment and made some wobbly sounds. Then I covered it with my hand so the pitch dropped.

“I like when people put it in their hand like that.” The speaker clicked a little, almost silent, and then Fishkin said, “Even darker. It should go down to zero.” - Columbia University Spectator


"New Music"

'dreamshow' is a brand new indie artist from the New York City / Brooklyn area. Unsigned and completely independent, Dream Show is already making noise on the nationwide scale. An electronic sound that some say is simliar to that of MGMT or other indie electronic bands, Dream Show focuses on making records that are both fun and sonically complex. Having been working for quite sometime on a new album at Stadium Red with engineer Ariel Bourjow, Dream show is just releasing their first music video for their new single titled “Rhinestones”. The song was recorded, mixed and mastered at Stadium Red and is the first of many more great records. - Stadium Red


Discography

Debut LP- Good Morning

Photos

Bio

Dreamshow is the nom de plume of Constantine Anastasakis- a 26 year old Bard College graduate of Philosophy and Comparative Literature. Although an accomplished jazz drummer and multi-instrumentalist, the art-pop project was born in a bedroom in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn in early 2009. With the usual DIY tools- Logic, a midi controller and a microKORG- Constantine wrote fresh takes on old pop song formats that straddle the line between what is serious and what is fun in music.