Self-Portrait: a series that dives deep into the sounds of some of our favourite producers and labels with a mix of 100% unreleased and forthcoming original material.
Dreems is “on a mission, a quest to free you from the divisive shackles of flags and tongues”. The Australian native and co-founder of mind expanding imprint Multi Culti began his voyage into production in the noughties as Gus Da Hoodrat, part of the party-starting Bang Gang crew. After a brief hiatus from music he returned as Dreems, and with that a more organic psychedelic approach to DJing and producing.
This deep natural approach is mirrored in how he runs Multi Culti with fellow DJ and friend, Thomas Von Party. Since starting the imprint in 2013, the pair have cultivated a striking visual and audio aesthetic, becoming flag-bearers for kaleidoscopic pan global sounds including the likes of Red Axes, Auntie Flo and Manfredas.
This Self-Portrait mix is made up of 100% unreleased and forthcoming Dreems productions, accompanied by an interview into his life as a producer and label head.
Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?
The bagpipes were scorched into my subconscious at a young age. My family is from the north of Scotland and I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time there as a wee lad. I’m not sure I even thought of them then as “music” per-se, but that was a distinctive sonic reflection that has stayed with me. I later went on to take them up as the one and only instrument I formally trained in.
Your first production feats were under Gus Da Hoodrat as part of the Bang Gang crew. You then took a break from DJing and producing for a while before making your return as Dreems. What encouraged you to start producing music back then?
Back then – which feels as far back as “way back” – music production was a knee-jerk reaction to wanting something more out of djing and leaving a more distinctive footprint on the dance floor. We wanted our own set of “tools” that were at our disposal, to take the party from a 9 to an 11 at the drop of hat… or an e.
What felt different the second time round when you began producing under Dreems? Did you miss that collaboration and support or was it important for you to embark on a solo pursuit?
Dreems was, in some part, a reaction of wanting to become less the ‘musical diplomat on a democratic dance mission’ and more the ‘psychedelic dictator of my own visionary quest’.
I started channelling my vast personal experience into a voice that came from within. When I hung up my DJ boots temporarily, I started making music that wasn’t in the “tools” category. I started to make music that was from a place that I had only started to become aware of – the heart.
There’s a natural and organic feel to your productions. Are there any particular characteristics or threads you weave in that are specifically ‘Dreems’?
Growing up in Australia we spent a lot of time outdoors. We quickly learnt as children that nature, especially plants are your partners and friends. Conducting that energy and transforming it into something that sounds organic is a big part of the way I like to approach electronic music.
Part of that feeling comes from the natural swing we have as humans. If every sound I made came out of a computer and was locked in by a machine I think my music would lose the essence that was quintessentially me.
You and Kris Baha have been collaborating as Die Orangen, with a few releases under your belt on Tel Aviv label, Malka Tuti. And you’ll be down in The Waiting Room basement this weekend for your UK debut. How did your partnership come about?
Kris and I have been friends for a long time, since our formative years in Australia – flashing our well worn members cards to the scene there. I had played for him at his amazing raves that he used to throw with another close friend of ours, DJ Bongmist. Naturally 96% of our conversations revolved around music, so when the idea of creating together came up it wasn’t hard to make time to get in the studio. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I feel that with Kris it just does, Die Orangen is equal parts both of us. Two personalities and minds melted simultaneously – baked into a hallucinogenic pastry.
Let’s talk about Multi Culti. You and Thomas von Party have been running the label together since 2013. What’s the main ethos behind it?
We stand by our label’s ethos “Multiply Your Mind”. Thomas and I are of the belief that every action you take is another chance to increase the knowledge. Every day on this earth is another chance to gain more wisdom and hopefully impart some of that on other souls. When you start to gain some influence over people, however small it might be, you need to treat them with respect. We have an intrinsic belief that you can improve people’s lives by doing what we do, even if that does sound cheesey.
Working together, and from different corners of the world, must help you bring different perspectives, skills and experiences to the table. How do you both contribute to the output and the general day-to-day running of the label?
In business it’s great to find the yin to your yang. Thomas and I are just that. Each has skills and strengths that counterbalance the weakness in the other. Thomas is smart, really smart – don’t let his psychedelic outfits and deep stoned visions fool you – he’s the brains. I’m more of an action man, the muscle you might say.
There is a distinct feel to Multi Culti’s releases that strings them all together, yet each one still retains its own unique characteristic. How do you approach A&R? Do you only work with producers who you know personally or are you relatively open?
Largely it has been to do with close-knit relationships with people, however we don’t own a book on how to approach this part of the business. I feel that open ears and open minds is the best way to approach it.
You’ve championed a lot of up and coming producers and played a part in putting their names on the map; the likes of Nicola Cruz and Peter Power to name a few. Are there any producers bubbling up that we should be listening to?
That’s a tough one, I could write a list longer than a dream time snake of people I love at the moment. Elko B, Keope, Tarawangsawelas, Otto, Kundan Lal, Jim Cromanyon, Iona Fortune and Veranda Culture have all put out startlingly incredible records this year so far… shit, that reminds me this year is almost over.
We love the release artwork. Like the music itself, the aesthetics have that Multi Culti flavour that connects everything. Who’s in charge of that?
We both contribute largely to how the aesthetic plays out, but I would say the biggest part can be contributed to our main creative nut Joel ‘Ventral Is Golden’ Galvin. He has helped us carve out a distinctive feel and vibe, and exercised a level of patience I once only thought was achieved by my mother.
We are big fans of your latest release from Polish duo Mytron & Ofofo, what’s planned on the label in the coming months?
We are currently working on a big new compilation series that will roll out next year. Dubbed Trancelations, it is based around the usage of symbols through language and how we translate these through music. Through the use of ever more effective tools, artefacts and technologies we are advancing closer to a global language that everyone can understand. We would like to achieve a global understanding of the music we release – through loosely translating the music into symbols and the symbols into a language that can be understood by all cultures, sexes and species. Our own emoji chart is the end goal.
This mix is comprised of 100% original Dreems material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?
The beauty of being asked to do this mix was to dig through the back catalogue of stuff that I never was able to call “finished” and get it out there. There are a few original tracks, remixes that never came out, some that are coming out (maybe), and an intro I made for the mix. It’s essentially all Dreems material, with some collaborative efforts thrown in.
Anything on the horizon for you? Any bookings or releases we should know about?
A new release on Multi Culti in December with remixes from label mates Nicola Cruz and Sascha Funke that serves as an entrée to a new album coming out next year. A collaboration with my ‘ma-man’ Jono Ma that will be hitting the shelves via Kompakt in the early stages of next year. Some fresh Die Orangen juice in the form of two releases with a mixture of new material, live versions of album tracks and remixes from some other like-minded people – Tapan, Superpitcher and Gordon Pohl have so far signed their waivers. I forgot how many remixes I have started – but I did finish one or two along the way that might see the light of day in 2018.
Dreems – Intro
Jono Ma & Dreems present The Dreemas – EZY2141
Dreems – The Point Piper
Dreems – Coasters Retreat (Sascha Funke Remix)
Robert ÆOLUS Myers – Sadhana Environment (Dreems ’Natürliche Liebe’ Remix)
Dreems – Meltdown / Recovery
Dreems – Firefly
Jagwar Ma – Loose Ends (Dreems ‘Late Doesn’t Mean Never’ Remix)
Inigo Vontier – Wirikuta (Dreems Remix)
Jono Ma & Dreems present The Dreemas – Can’t Stop My Dreaming (Of You)
Dreems will be playing at Rhythm Section’s 6th birthday party this Friday 10th November at Bussey Building. Find out more about the event.