With a sound inspired by 80s synthpop, surf and dreampop, Dreamgirl's self-titled debut album is an affirmation of the potential shown on their previous two EPs. Led by singer Lacey Hopkins, the band's music is the product of a true collaboration between the members. We are lucky to bring you an interview with Hopkins about their debut album, songwriting process and what inspires them about music in Kansas City.
Introduce the band and describe your music for new listeners.
Dreamgirl is Skylar Smith, Sam Stephan, Ian Dobyns, Austin Marks and Lacey Hopkins. We are from Kansas City, MO.
Our music is dreamy synth rock & roll; landlocked surf rock / dreampop / indie, female-fronted, with fun vocal harmonies. We've been compared to Tennis, TOPS, Shannon & the Clams and Cyndi Lauper.
How did Dreamgirl come together?
Recently, we put out our self-titled debut LP. It includes both unheard tracks and songs that have been around for a few years. I think it's special in that it is the embodiment of our evolution. We went through a couple lineup changes during recording (which all in all took a year and a half - while laborious, it was definitely a labor of love). Some of these songs were written when we were three or four years younger, and I think those tracks sound like extensions of our EP, Illuminaughty. Then some songs are the products of our current outfit, which is the version of the band that people hear live at shows. Since we'd been playing some of these songs since the band's genesis, one of the main motivations of the album was to simply get them out so we could, in a way, move on and focus on finishing and releasing the stuff we've been writing.
Talk about your new album. How long have you been writing for it? In what ways did the band challenge itself with this record?
There's no true formula or process in the way we write. It's usually been that one of us will come with an idea, a skeleton of a song, and everyone else will write to it. Suggestions are made, we feel it out and then voila! Sometimes songs happen by accident - "Forever Between Us Pt II" is one of those. It was a little ditty that we kind of jokingly played at practice as a reprise of another song, then titled "Forever Between Us." We played it at a show for kicks and it killed so we decided to fine-tune it and make it a "real" song. "Mythos" too - Skylar, former member Zach Sauls and I were hanging out in the living room jamming on toy keyboards and we thought, "hey, this is actually pretty cool!" As for who brings what to the table: I think it's worth mentioning that each one of us has come up with an idea that has turned into a song.
What inspires you the most about music in Kansas City?
So many things are inspiring about music in Kansas City. The amount of talent is flooring, there are so many great local artists doing wonderful things right now. (Definitely check out Toughies, Momma's Boy, Drugs & Attics, BLKFLNL, High Westhus, and Rachel Mallin & The Wild Type). Not only is there high quality in high quantity, everyone - artists, fans, local media outlets, venues, radio stations - is generally supportive and helpful of one another. There's camaraderie in this awesome thing that we all love to do and that's so special. People are coming out to shows, they're streaming music and listening to the radio, they're buying shirts and records. Also, it doesn't hurt that Kansas City gets great touring acts. I feel like there's an opportunity every night to see a really cool band or artist.
Dreamgirl's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
1. Any of Jon Ronson's books - definitely "Lost At Sea" and "Them: Adventures with Extremists." Ronson will turn anyone into a non-fiction lover. Witty, thought-provoking, and easy reads.
2. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. For anyone curious about the origins of the universe!
3. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. If there's any possible way to make Holocaust literature fun or whimsical, Foer does it with this Bildungsroman. The movie is great, too! We recommend both. Disclaimer: be ready to cry.
4. Native Son by Richard Wright. A really important piece of African-American literature - a good starting place for any white person getting into the genre.
5. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger. Nine perfect vignettes that are both funny and sad - a book to read again and again.
6. Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. Don't let the title scare you! So many hilarious essays on the things we know and love: The Sims, the Celtics/Lakers rivalry, Star Wars, Billy Joel - and even some stuff about serial killers. Another great non-fiction piece for people who don't like non-fiction.
7. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I call this "Pynchon Lite." I'll describe it by saying John Waters wanted to make it into a movie, starring Divine and John Goodman.
8. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Follow a developmentally different man as he undergoes a revolutionary IQ-enhancing procedure. Disclaimer: be ready to cry.