Dreams We've Had Q&A
By Kelsey Bolander and Tosin Faseemo
Dreams We’ve Had is a Minneapolis dream pop band. They’ve experienced a steady increase in popularity after their Battle of the Bands victory earlier this year. We sat down with vocalist Bennett Blumberg to discuss musical production, favorite artists, and weird dreams.
How did you meet your bandmates?
Well, right now we have a drummer and a bass player. It’s sort of me kind of as the head of everything. I write mostly everything and record it. We’re going through a transition phase right now with that, because we had a really quickly changing band for a second… I met them through the scene and other bands in college.
What drew you towards dream pop specifically?
I started having the whole reverb, sad boy aesthetic and I was just naturally drawn to that. And then I started listening to Beach House and Tame Impala and all the classics—wait—Tame Impala’s not even dream pop, but like the indie, alternative stuff.
So, you use a modular synthesizer, right? How have you been able to find your sound while navigating the technical parts of that?
So, with modular synths, they’re really cool because it’s kind of like a guitar… board, how you can customize it. So I started with a basic set-up of the modular and basically just grew out of that… So every new module that I would get in the synth would be a new part of the sound and I can point to two pieces of equipment that are a foundation for most of everything we’ve done… the artistry and technology are married well. We’re all kind of nerds, synth nerds. Like, watching videos on YouTube and they’re just making the most bizarre sounds possible. My friends have this running joke that all I do in my room is make bird noises.
How has the transition to vocals been?
It actually went really well, better than expected. I was pretty bad at singing five months ago and I’ve been practicing like two hours a day. I’ll do that Sharpay “mah mah” thing… my roommates hate it and sometimes they’ll do it back at me. The first show I sang live at was kind of rough, just because it was so new and I couldn’t hear myself… but then the last show at 7th Street Entry went really well.
What was it like winning Battle of the Bands?
That was amazing. That was probably my happiest moment of being in this band. The first year we did it and we played against Half Mannequin. Needless to say they kicked our asses. So we lost the first round, didn’t even get judges’ pick or anything, and then next year we won the whole thing which was kind of crazy. It was really fun.
Are there any artists you want to collaborate with?
My dream would be Beach House, but I wouldn’t be worthy. Like, they would be like, “Hey, collaborate with me,” and I’d be like, “Okay, I will, but I don’t think you want this.” A dream tour would be a tour with Mac DeMarco, just because he’s a little rascal. I would just love to fuck shit up with him. I wouldn’t match up to his level of crazy though… I just wanna be his friend. I’ve watched every Mac Demarco video on the Internet.
You once tweeted that you spent eight hours of a day songwriting. Can you talk more about your approach to songwriting? Do you usually you usually take big chunks of time to sit down and crank them out?
It’s kinda weird. I just got over a really long dry spell—I guess you could call it writer’s block. It lasted for two weeks, and I couldn’t write anything. Sometimes, it’ll be really fast. I’ll sit down, and the song will be written in an hour or 30 minutes… the production usually takes 12 hours or 24 hours… but usually what happens is, I’ll be writing for eight or so hours… maybe not continuously, but like four hours at one time and four hours the next day. Most of it will be shitty or not good enough… then, all of a sudden, a gem will pop up and then once that happens, it’s really quick. But getting to that initial nugget takes a while sometimes.
Is there anything that you can tell us about what role mental health plays in “Dear Friend?”
One thing about my music I like to consider is, in terms of any art, the creator is only one perspective of that. While I might have the most accepted perspective on it, there could be tons of different interpretations, and who’s to say mine is correct? But, the way I look at that album… I was dealing with some depression at the time and I learned throughout writing it and afterwards looking at the piece, that the “friend” I was writing to wasn’t really a person at all, it was happiness and the idea of having a good state of mental health… there’s a poem throughout it. And I actually wrote the poem, it was called “Dear Friend,” in my freshman poetry class at the U.
Do you think having those couple of extra years under your belt gave you more of the tenacity to be able to go out there and sing? Like having more confidence?
I think I’m just really… not brave, but reckless, maybe? Like, I have a vision, and I will complete it. And I’ll do what’s necessary. At this point in my life I‘ve failed enough times that I’m not really afraid of failing. I’m afraid of not being able to fail again… because I’ve done so many things that haven’t worked, or like I said, wrote things that didn’t work out. As long as you keep going, you can’t fail. Because at the end of the day, even if you didn’t hit massive success, I think the biggest thing is saying you tried your best. And if you can be content with that, then you didn’t fail. But, I couldn’t live with myself if I quit. That gives me the recklessness to go forward with what I need to do. And I envy people who are really good singers, who are just nervous, you know? Like, “Oh, I’ll never sing in public.” Dude, I was literally trash! And if I can do it, anyone can do it. Everyone thinks you have to be a natural singer to sing; that’s not true.
Right. Like, look at Bob Dylan.
I mean, there’s a lot of artists out there that people wouldn’t consider to be great singers. But [they] just made their own sound.
What was the last, or the weirdest dream you’ve had?
Last night, I actually had kind of a weird dream. It was one of those nested dreams. Did you ever watch “Inception?” How they had those dreams inside dreams? So I have a really fucked-up dream life. People say that I sleepwalk a lot, and sleep talk… I had a dream inside of a dream, and for context, my girlfriend is in France, for study abroad, and she’s coming back some time in December. In my dream inside the dream, I was gonna get her that day from the airport. I was like yes, she’s finally gonna be home… I was counting down the hours. And then, before I got in my car to go get her, I woke up, and it was 10 days prior. And I was like, “Well, shit, now I have to wait 10 days.” Then I woke up again, and it was 10 more days prior. So now it’s 20 days away.
What are you working on right now?
We put out a single, a week or so ago. And we’re gonna have a single come out on December 21st. And these are just two singles, not connected to anything. Then, what I’m excited about, December 26th, the day after Christmas, to, like, January 20th, I’m going into a cabin in the woods, alone… no technology. My parents are making me bring a drug dealer phone down, just in case someone dies in the family… but other than that, I’m disconnecting to make an album in isolation. People ask me, “Oh, are you gonna be okay?” And I’m like, “Um, maybe not.” But that’s kind of the point. If I start going insane, that’ll help out… The most insane people write the best music, I like to say.
Dreams We’ve Had will be playing a show on Dec. 23 at Honey in Minneapolis.