We chatted to Constantine V from Dreamshow to discuss visuals, songwriting and how they got their vintage sound
Remember circa 2003 when every band wanted to sound like the Strokes, and it felt like New York was the only place producing decent guitar music? Well thankfully things have changed a fair amount since then, and as trends are wont to do, that one faded away and was relegated to a glimmer of nostalgia in the eyes of the thirty-somethings for whom “First Impressions of Earth” is still the greatest album ever made.
But even for those of us who aren’t lingering on the past it can sometimes be nice to take a trip down memory lane, which seems to be exactly where new quartet Dreamshow come in. Making the kind of woozy, synth drenched cuts that hark back to the heydey of indie, their tracks are built around the raspy vocal of singer/frontman Constantine V, who doesn’t so much sing as groan his emotive tales of love lost and dispossessed youth.
Along with Constantine the band is made up of Jahphet Landis (from TV on the Radio) on drums, Mason Orfalea (from Cerebral Ballzy) on guitar and Michael Amacio on bass, making it something of an indie supergroup – it’s no surprise their songs are great and people are taking notice. We caught up with Constantine to chat visuals, songwriting and how they got their vintage sound.
Given that you’ve all previously been involved in other, highly successful projects, both within and without the music industry, what was the impetus for forming Dreamshow?
I, Constantine V, just played the music I was writing for these guys and they really liked it.
How long have you existed as a band?
Not long, about 6 months or so.
Your sound is very vocally driven – how important is it for you that your songs convey a certain emotion?
The video for ‘Chasing Control’ has quite a graphic, monochromatic look to it. Who directed it and will you be utilising that aesthetic in future videos?
Matt Williams directed it. And yes, we talked about doing more black and white.
Your sound is reminiscent of that very melodic, guitar-driven mid-late 00s alternative and indie scene that came out of London and New York: bands like The Strokes (to name the most famous example!) Is there an element of nostalgia in the music you make?
There’s no nostalgia. It might rhyme with the past but it’s not repeating it. I just like guitars.
Have you begun recording/recorded an album or EP? If so can you tell us anything about it, where it was written and recorded, or who produced it?
I wrote and recorded 22 songs and picked 5 for an EP which is coming out soon. The EP has a lot of different attitudes and deliveries on it. I really like it. It was recorded in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and it was produced with two friends: Brian Lee and Andrew Bolooki.
Talk us through the songwriting process – who’s responsible for what?
Tequila. Then sitting with guitars and working out progressions. Then we shout melodies and I say “yes yes”, and we’ll use the first half of that with this other melody, which I take from a melody from before, and so on. It’s very much a collage.
What are the inspirations behind the music you’re making, and how does this process differ from that of the other bands/projects you’ve been involved with?
Punk filtered through luxury was the initial concept. We wanted to use guitars and the voice to create a feeling of longing and urgency at the same time.
You’ve got Matthew Williams who previously worked with Kanye and Lady Gaga doing your creative direction, what exactly has he brought to the project thus far?
He brings an invaluable dialogue to the questions of visual representation of the music and he gives me advice. He’s really a friend and that’s how the ideas come about. When we first started to talk about a music video he asked me: “so what do you just do, what comes first and is most natural?” I said the drums. The drums are part of my DNA. And he said that’s it.
Can we expect to see you playing over in the UK anytime soon?
Words: Maya Hambro