DREAMLOVER IS A new music project conceived by London-area musician, Danny Saunders. Saunders' melody-driven
arrangements are reminiscent of Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Sean O'Hagan (High Llamas) . In what seems like virtually
little time, Saunders has received airplay in the US and have been signed to the Occasional Rain label. I chatted with Danny
about his band, its origins, and his expectations.
Tell us about dreamlover. Who are the band members? How was dreamlover formed?
In a sense dreamlover is a one-man show in that I have written the songs and the arrangements for the first album, and up to
this point I have played and sang everything. However...in a new twist, I have enlisted a couple of musicians to perform the
songs live with me - and we are as busy as day jobs allow in rehearsal.
Describe the songwriting process. Is it a collaborative or singular effort?
It would be difficult to describe the songwriting process adequately. It is different each time. Sometimes I play a sequence of
chords on piano or guitar over and over again and just howl away until the neighbour complains. Alternatively, I dream some of
my best songs and once I wrote a song whilst moving boxes around on the nightshift in an electrical goods warehouse. This is
just my bias, but I would say that if you understand precisely 'how' you write a song, then you probably aren't doing it right.
What does music mean to you? What do you think about the music scene as it exists today?
Trying to define music is a bit like trying to define God. Birds and animals make music. So music preexists meaning. What
does breathing mean?
On the subject of the music scene—I don't really think very much about the music scene. It's a very diverse thing to quantify.
Obviously, it's an industry and maybe there are a few people involved in it who wouldn't care very much for the definition of
music that I just gave.
Your sound is reminiscent of Brian Wilson and the High Llamas and, to an extent, Fleetwood Mac. What bands influence
I loved vocal harmonies since childhood. TV music like the theme tune from TOP CAT and the Fairy Liquid singers—the sound
of several people singing at once was mysterious and magical.
When I was a teenager I spent some time listening to things like Henry Mancini and Beach Boys records to find out how they
achieved their respective harmony sounds. You can really learn something about song structure and arrangement from
listening closely. But I think if you tried to learn how to write a song in that way (melodies and chord progressions) it could ruin
you. I think you need to be careful not to go around rubbing someone else's lamp...cause you won't get their genie; and what's
worse, you won't get your own either.
The commercial music scene in the US is bland to say the least, with annoying, uninspired artists like Jessica Simpson
dominating the pop charts and shows like AMERICAN IDOL engineering tomorrow's "stars." What is the music scene like
in London? Is it inviting to new artists?
I guess I will find that out when the album is ready and dreamlover is playing gigs. There seems to be plenty of venues for
unsigned bands to play gigs in London.
What in your definition constitutes a good song?
I don't really know. It's like what Aristotle or someone said about "time"—I know what it is...but ask me to describe it to someone
and I can't.
You're preparing to do some studio recording and have been recruiting various musicians for this latest venture. What's
the process like—preparing to record, trying out new musicians, etc?
It has been great. I advertised on MySpace.com and elsewhere for personnel for the dreamlover studio orchestra, and the
response has been very good. I have almost everyone lined up now—all pro players willing to help me out in exchange for bus
I have been doing the arrangements for fourteen songs over the last few weeks—I took a couple of weeks off my day job to put
demos together and it was absolute bliss—spending all day doing little else but music. The bit I am not looking forward to
much is writing out the parts for all the brass and woodwind instruments. For some obscure reason that no one has ever been
able to explain, many such instruments sound in a different key to the one they are written in...so you have to write the individual
parts out in the wrong key—and it's a different wrong key for each instrument!
Happily, I have roped in my good friend Nathan to give me a hand. He plays French horn, which means he can read a part in
any key and immediately play it back in any other key. Which is useful.
How well defined are the pieces you'll be recording? How much improvisation arises during studio recording?
Because of budget limitations and the amount of musicians involved everything will be written out in advance. What I'd really
love would be to get everyone in a big room and build up an arrangement from out of thin air...like a massive human
sequencer—but of course that would be prohibitively expensive. Maybe we can do that for the second album.
What do you enjoy about studio recording? What frustrates you?
I enjoy putting all the pieces together. It's a bit like Rolf Harris doing a painting. He's always saying "Can you see what it is yet?"
Recording always seems to take longer than expected though, which can be frustrating.
Do you enjoy playing live? Do you have a preference between live and studio? If so, which do you prefer, and why?
As I've mentioned—there is a dreamlover live band in rehearsal. In the meantime I am doing some little solo spots around
London. It's going to be a lot of fun.
What is dreamlover's greatest accomplishment to date?
I guess the greatest accomplishment would have to be landing a record deal. I'm most excited about the fact that the single is
going to come out on vinyl. I thought that the opportunity for that had probably passed.
Vinyl is having something of a renaissance in England, apparently. I think people have regained an enthusiasm for mechanical
things. I don't know if it's the same in America? I think maybe digital music is a bit like space food—contains the same
nutritional content, but looks a bit bland on the plate.
What do you hope to achieve following your next recording session?
When the album is finished it would be nice to get a release for it. I daresay I will cook up some scheme. The single is coming
out some time in the early part of next year on Occasional Rain, which is a new independent label.
To what extent, if any, has MySpace.com affected dreamlover? Have you made new fans? Has it been a useful tool for
dreamlover is a new project, and we haven't played gigs yet—so people that have come by us on MySpace are our only "fans" to
date. We've had a number of approaches from people, including the record company and a college radio DJ in America. And a
few buddies from my home town have tracked me down. It's better than a kick in the teeth.
S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 6
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R E L A T E D L I N K S :
WIDE AWAKE HOME
SLEEPING GIANT CREATIONS
I n t e r v i e w s 1 0 1 : d r e a m l o v e r
d a v i d y u r k o v i c h