The 12-string acoustic guitar and cello give The Dreamscapes Project a distinctive sound to begin with. Though they’re acoustic-based, they still maintain a powerful and dramatic sound, especially when the churning, propelling percussion jumps in. Then throw in Keith Center’s brooding lyrics and delivery to give it a minor bent, and voila, they have their own brand of “Folk-Core.”
The Dreamscapes Project have a new, as yet untitled, album dropping later this year. And what fun would a new album be without an unconventional method of release? They’ve got a cool one with their Twelve Days Project that involves artists all over the DC area. Each month they’ll be releasing one new track via a different DC music source; this month MetroMusicScene.com is hosting an exclusive download of their new track "Fragile" here. And The Dreamscapes Project will be featuring “re-imaginations” of that track by emerging DC-area filmmakers, creative writers, visual artists and DJs. This whole project will be supported by a series of month concerts in the DC area, with proceeds donated to a different charity each month.
I interviewed lead singer Keith Center and bassist Jeremy Rodgers via email about their CD release project, the origins of their name, how to score the best spot on King Street for their upcoming show at the Light Horse Tavern this Wednesday, January 20th.
You’ve got a new CD dropping in its entirety later this year – what about the album excites you the most?
Keith Center: Although it is always exciting to get new music into peoples hands, I think what excites me most with this release is how we are doing it. Our music has always been different, but we have always release our music in the typical way. This time I feel like the way its being released is fitting of the music that is being released. We have always included a lot of different styles of music into our songs, now we are incorporating many styles of art into our album, to me that is really exciting.
So how did the Twelve Days Project come about? It’s almost like a multi-media music video run wild…
KC: It started as a question. We sat in our rehearsal space and started talking about the next release. We had started recording three songs with Ted Comerford, our producer from our last album, last February. Those were supposed to be released last summer; however scheduling conflicts kept preventing us from finishing them. In the meantime. a couple of other recording opportunities fell in our laps. Here we were with two finished songs, three half-finished songs, and another half dozen or so unrecorded/unreleased tracks. We started asking ourselves what we could do with all this material. A traditional album would require us to get the other tracks all done before we could even think about releasing anything. We had all been talking about how much the industry was changing, then it hit us, this was our opportunity to stretch and try something different.
It started with releasing a different track on a different DC area blog every month. Then the idea of adding artists in was hatched and the floodgates opened. Film makers, writers, musicians/DJs/producers - we realized we could get everyone involved and really shine a spotlight on some of the incredible talent that people over look in this area. It has been a little overwhelming but it has also been incredible how warm and welcoming everyone we have contacted has been to the idea. I just feel lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of it all.
A lot of bands fizzle out pretty quickly, but you’ve been around in some form or another since the late 90s. What’s your secret to longevity?
KC: I think the secrets are managing your expectations, making sure you are having fun, and not taking yourself too seriously. So many people get caught up in what they could be, they disappointed by who they are. For us, however, the biggest driving force has been our fans. Getting to play for the incredible people who come out and support us every concert... seriously, how can you even think of quitting that?
Are there any secret origins of your name?
KC: Yes, it is actually derived from ancient Mayan practice. Dreams of the Kuhul Ajew (the name for the Mayan king and religious leader) were often interpreted by his scribes the following morning, with the belief that in them the gods may have hidden important messages for his followers. Since their language was logographic, using symbols and pictures, the message would end up as a finished scene or scape. If deemed valuable by the Kuhul Ajew, this final product would be displayed for the entire village, and, loosely translated, was called a "dreamscape."
What draws you to keeping things acoustic, versus going electric?
KC: Lack of equipment? I think at this point we are just convinced that if we switched to all electric instruments, some hole would open up in the space time continuum and everything would cease to exist. Or laziness. Honestly though, I think it’s the challenge of it. It’s the mother of invention, you know? Don't get me wrong, I simply adore sound of the 12-string acoustic and cello, but there is definitely this smile that comes across our faces when we create something that we are pretty sure you aren't supposed to do in an acoustic band.
Jeremy Rodgers: There is usually a smile on our face whenever we do anything we aren't supposed to be doing.
You don’t see bands performing live with cello very often. What do you think it adds to your sound?
KC: I believe Beethoven coined the term for that: "Badassitude".
JR: I was going to say "Balls' but if you want go all classical....
What are a few CDs the whole band can agree on when heading out to a gig?
KC: I can't speak for everyone, but I would fathom a guess that at least one of them would be a Tool album.
JR: I think we can all pretty much agree on Soul Coughing. And maybe WTOP on the radio.
What do you want to leave the audience thinking after Wednesday night’s (1/20) show at the Light Horse Tavern?
KC: "1 AM! Son of a bitch, I have to work in the morning! I swore I was going to leave at 11:30, but that was so worth it!"
JR: "That was definitely worth the street parking!"