Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: DREAMER BOY

Meet the West Coast-born, Nashville-based musician who has toured with Clairo.

Dreamer Boy peach hair
Dreamer Boy peach hair

Originally from Spokane in Washington state, Dreamer Boy is the musical brainchild of 23-year-old singer and songwriter Zach Taylor.

After relocating to Tennessee for college at Belmont University, his debut project “Love, Nostalgia” all started by collaborating with his friends in Nashville – also known as ‘Music City’.

Taylor and his producer Bobby Knepper worked together on the ‘coming of age’ first album, and the rest of their team includes creative director Adam Alonzo and manager Cody Clark.

Following their 2018 record release, Dreamer Boy has had his own sold out headline show; opened for artists like Still Woozy, The Marías and Omar Apollo; and most recently supported ​Wonderland cover star Clairo​ on her European “Immunity” tour.

We catch up with Dreamer Boy about ​growing up, ​making art with his friends, and his next album.

How do you think growing up in Spokane, Washington has influenced your music?
I definitely think it influenced early on what I was listening to and what came across my radar in terms of what kids were listening to in high school in Washington, as opposed to other parts of the country. In terms of how it affects my music now, I really like being from Washington, and I think the beauty of that place has always stuck with me.

What was your favourite band or artist growing up?
I went through a bunch of cycles of music discovery. Pretty early on it was kind of just whatever my parents had in the house – and that was James Taylor. And then as I discovered music on my own, in 4th grade I remember listening to Green Day for the first time. I remember there also being Jack Johnson in my parents house – I remember listening to and singing those songs as a younger kid. But growing up, I would say James Taylor was my favourite artist overall probably.

When did you decide that you wanted to make music?
I always liked going to concerts. From a younger age, before I even started making music, I always had romanticised it – like every kid would. It wasn’t until high school – there was a friend I had that I went to camp with who started making music and started rapping. His name was Nick, and he was the first kid from Spokane that I really remember making music – he really inspired me. He was a couple years older than me. He passed away at a young age a couple years ago, and I just remember he had such an impact on me in terms of showing me that you could just start making music with whatever resources you had. So, it was early on in high school that I discovered the music software Audacity, and I started recording myself. That was how I first started. I don’t even think I thought I was ever going to be able to do music full-time until pretty recently, so it’s kind of a new thing.

How did you make that transition from making music for yourself to pursuing it full-time?
Intentionality is definitely what changed in my mind when it came to doing everything. Dreamer Boy is a name that I came up with because I was messing around with calling it a different name not under my own. I think that as soon as that happened, there was a world and ideas that came from being more intentional. Up until this point I was doing music without that, and then finally took all the notes and things I was observing from other artists and started putting them into practice – taking the time and working with the team on building up our ideas. For people who are really striving and really putting 100% behind something, it can really show through. That’s what we all proved to ourselves with the first album, and now it’s time to double down and do something even greater, have more fun with it, and be proud of it.

What made you decide on the alias Dreamer Boy rather than using your own name?
The more I’ve sat with it and it’s been a thing, the more I’ve realised exactly why it works and that it really is my personality. We were going to try to just do ‘Dreamer’ and that was too vague because you couldn’t search for it. Somehow it ended up on ‘Dreamer Boy’. I think ‘boy’ fits me, and my sister makes fun of me because she’s like, “What if you’re still doing this when you’re like 35 or 40 and you’re Dreamer ​Boy​.” But music is something that grounds us in the things that connect us all… I think me having ‘boy’ in my artist name will always ground it in this very pure and somewhat immature place.

Dreamer Boy cowboy outfit
Dreamer Boy cowboy outfit

How did your whole team meet?
I was working on some music, and I ended up meeting and moving into a house with some of my friends. Bobby [​Knepper​] was one of the people that I moved in with – and the two of us started making some demos together as soon as we moved in. Adam [Alonzo] was living in Los Angeles and we had sent the demos to him. He was really excited about it, so he decided to move back to Nashville where we’d originally met, and move into our house to do all the creative and visual stuff. Then [Cody] Clark at the time was working with a big artist that we really look up to up in Chicago, and he’d been following me on Instagram and started seeing Adam’s work as well. We sent him some demos as well, and he sent back a track by track breakdown of what he thought could be better. He was really intrigued by the project, so he ended up moving into the house that we were all living in too. The team that came around this so quickly, and at the right time of putting out the first album, was definitely a divine kind of God thing.

There are elements of pop, R&B lyricism, ambient tones, and a lightheartedness and easygoingness to your music. In terms of the lightheartedness and easygoingness: is that part of your general demeanour, or is that more of headspace that you’re able to tap into through your music?
When I’m not thinking and not in my head, I think that’s my world – and it’s very optimistic, joyful, colourful. I hope that can always be the kind of overall vibe of anything I’m making, and at least be the end point. But me as a person? I still go up and down – and I’m still wanting to make music that can go up and down.

Who are your dream musical collaborations?
I would love to work with Jack Antonoff, and I’d love to work with Dev Hynes. I’d love to collaborate with people who I could actually ​collaborate​ with. But then there’s people like Frank Ocean, Paul McCartney, Thom Yorke…

Can you tell me more about the new album you’re working on now?
“All The Ways We Are Together” is roughly a narrative of falling in love with one of your friends. And falling in love with someone that you already have a connection to before you were interested in them romantically. But it’s also about the different ways that we understand each other from a person to person connection. I’m not going for something totally crazy with the album. The songs range from love to anxiety to sadness to joy – all these human emotions. That’s the only thing I’m going to try to do with it – just portray these different human emotions, but also summarize the narrative that happened in my own life, of falling in love with one of my best friends. If I can do that musically and have great moments to represent that, that’s what matters to me. I’m not trying to define my sound too much.

How was it being on tour with Clairo?
I love Claire [Cottrill] so much. She is absolutely one of the kindest people I’ve met so far in music, and I think she works really hard, and she also has a great team around her. With this tour, me and my whole team got a front row seat to what this can turn into, and the challenges, and how we’re all going to have to grow into our roles even more moving forward. It was really cool to have this experience for myself and the whole team as well to really be able to kind of shadow in a way. Claire’s just an amazing songwriter and an amazing artist. It was really inspiring to be around every night, and see her perform, and see all her fans singing her songs. It’s just made me all the more inspired to get back home and finish the album and write better songs.

Is there anything you want to say about 2020?
I’ll just say: All the ways we are together.

Dreamer Boy’s latest single “Puppy Dog” out now.​

Photography
Adam Alonzo
Words
Audry Hiaoui
NEW NOISE: DREAMER BOY

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