Week in Pop: ETA, Kristen Barredo, Micah E. Wood

Sjimon Gompers

San Joaquin's rising star—Kristen Barredo; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Dream System 8

Shining a little light with Dream System 8; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Los Angeles pop duo Erica Elektra and ​​David Klotz are Dream System 8 who create universes made from the dreamiest stockpile of synthesizers imaginable. Klotz has established himself from work in Fonda, People and Stars, to winning Emmy awards for editing the music for shows like “Stranger Things”, “American Horror Story”, “Game of Thrones”, et al.—David combines powers with Erica’s infinitely ethereal vocals as heard on their debut full-length We Sleep Again (via Minty Fresh) that was the result of amassing a cadre of keyboards like a Crumar Performer, a collection of Korgs, LinnDrum LM-2, Omnichord System 100, Rolands, Yamahas & more. Presenting the world premiere for their shimmering video for “Shine a Little Light”; Dream System 8 cast a beam of bright illumination upon the audience that shares an unrestrained energy of pure enlightenment.

Dream System 8’s Erica & David are seen showing off their vast collection of keys & other musical toys while being bathed in the sunlit glow of an all-encompassing light. The visuals for “Shine a Little Light” present a privy view of the duo in their quaint home space delivering an intimate performance of their luminescent single that fits the song’s heart-warming quality. It begins with the programming of a LinnDrum LM-2 drum machine as the duo showcase an arsenal of synthesizers that inspire a sense of envy for both electronic artists & appreciators alike. The two assemble their cavalcade of keyboards before the audience’s eyes & ears as the result is something completely otherworldly. Their talents combined along with accompanying instruments & implementations of creativity make an artistic vehicle that shines their musical light up to the galaxy & beyond toward new dimensions. The sound & visuals together make for an electric kind of spark that defies conventional adjectives & descriptions alone.

We had a chance to chat with both of Dream System 8’s Erica Elektra and ​​David Klotz in the following interview exclusive:

From both of your multidisciplinary work in sound design, various previous pop projects & other such pursuits—describe the bond lead to the creation of Dream System 8.

Erica: I’ve always been sort of an auteur musically, but I had this longing to work with someone else who I felt was compatible with me musically and on the same wavelength…I could just never find this mystery person. And then, when David and I first talked about working together, I truly didn’t have high hopes. I’ve definitely had my fair share of music hangouts and collaborations…I thought this would just be another one for the books. But from the moment we began working together, I felt like we both complimented each other so well musically. It was so different from what I’ve experienced previously. I shared a song I’d written with him (“I Think of You”), and then within a week or so, he created this beautiful music to go alongside it…better than I could have ever dreamed of or hoped for. And we hit the ground running…every time we got together to write/record, it was just effortless and the hours would go by in an instant. We didn’t intend to become a band or do anything formally…but after about six months of making music, we’d realized that we had a full album and we wanted to share our music with the world.

What is about the attraction to the synth that is somehow so strangely liberating when it comes to audio aesthetics, composition, ambiance and more?

David: There’s two things happening where you can get lost in finding new, otherworldly sounds on these old synths. Then at the same time, you land on sounds that are familiar to us from the past. The combination of both the strange and the familiar is what drives our sound.

Erica: I love the unique sounds that synths make and how those sounds create songs with a certain feel. And as a classically trained musician, I do appreciate the fact that they can be programmed so that you don’t have to worry about playing things perfectly to make a recording! The other thing that I think is cool about using synths is that sometimes, a particular sound or arpeggiator can be the inspiration for a new song. We like to experiment with the different synths we have and then we hear a cool sound/beat/arpeggio and use that as a jumping off spot to create something from nothing.

Dream System 8’s Erica Elektra & ​​David Klotz; courtesy of the duo.

Would you all agree that environment & world building becomes more tangible when utilizing synths, as opposed to adopting more acoustic instrumental options?

David: Yes, in a way, but with our traditional song arrangements and love for a particular era in pop music, we limit the landscape a bit, so that I think we tend to be more like the bands using traditional instruments. We’re not as experimental, per se.

Erica: I do. Like I said, I think that synth sounds create a certain feel. but I like what you said—world building. Yeah…I feel like I’m transported to another world when I listen to synth heavy music. I don’t know why that’s different from the more traditional acoustic instruments, but I feel like synth music has a more magical feel to it.

What sorts of discoveries did the two of you make on the journey that was recording the debut album We Sleep Again?

Erica: I discovered that I can actually write WITH someone. I’ve never really been able to do that before. I discovered that there is still a lot of music pouring out of me…after having a child, there was a part of me that thought this stage of my life (music making) might be over.

Synth pop dreamers Erica & ​​David of Dream System 8; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Can you describe the sorts of illuminated inspirations that informed the brilliant & bright single “Shine a Little Light” & the making of the corresponding visual.

David: Yes, we wanted to open up our world a bit—show you where we are working and where we are writing and performing our songs here in my sunny, mid-century apartment with lovely views of the San Gabriel Mountains. Not a bad place to record a synth-pop record.

Erica: Regarding the visual…we liked the idea of utilizing the sunlight shining through the apartment window as a literal translation of the lyrics. We also wanted to make a more down to earth video since the first one we made was so fantastical, dreamy and unreal.

Current sounds, visions & literature that you two are really excited about?

David: I’ve been reading a lot of poetry lately. I just read Forbidden City by Gail Mazur and a collection of poems called In The Shape of a Human Body, I am Visiting The Earth. There’s a company in Japan that also just designed a brand new synth inspired by the legendary Yamaha CS-80. It’s called Deckhard’s Dream. I played one a few months ago and it was inspiring…made me think that our next album might employ some new analog technology and not be so limited to the vintage machines. I have one ordered, so I am excited about that!

What can you tell us regarding future plans for Dream System 8?

David: Performing live is in the works, but we are also busy writing. You’ll hear more from us in 2018!

Parting words of wisdom?

David: As long as your day ends with a nice bottle wine and an old record spinning on the turntable, life is good.

Dream System 8’s album We Sleep Again is available now via Minty Fresh.

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