The duo will be releasing their soulful new album, ‘Part of the Machine,’ some time in 2014, which features Akie Bermiss on vocals. A departure from the duo’s 2010 debut, ‘Serene Poetic,’ their sound has grown vastly, combining their already skillful mix of steady beats and controlled instrumentals with Bermiss’ soulful vocal for a new and more developed listening experience.
I had the opportunity to correspond with Diwon and Dugans via email to discuss how Dreams in Static came to be, ‘Part of the Machine,’ the “You’re On Your Own” video, and “resurrecting” rock and hip-hop.
How did the collaboration between the two of you come about?
Dugans: Diwon had the concept for Dreams in Static. He wanted it to be a cinematic vibe. We knew each other from numerous recording sessions together. He eventually asked me if I would be into it.
You are about to release a new album, ‘Part of the Machine,’ soon. Could you tell me a little about the album?
Diwon: The full album will revolve around soul, old rhythm and blues and hip hop. It's all music we love, and that has inspired this project.
What was the songwriting process like for ‘Part of the Machine’?
Dugans: We start with a verse and chorus sketch and we give it to Akie. The songs are pretty much constructed independently. It’s a fun way to collaborate because it allows so much creative freedom.
Diwon: Dugans and I, even when I lived down the block from him in Brooklyn, have always past ideas back and forth through WeTransfer to build songs, so it has been very similar to the way Postal Service probably worked, except this time we had a 3rd party to bring in once the instrumental was ready and that was Akie Bermiss, who really took the music to another level.
For ‘Part of the Machine,’ you teamed up with Akie Bermiss, who sings on the album. You first album, ‘Serene Poetic,’ didn’t use vocals. Why did you decide to have a vocalist on this album?
Dugans: We had talked about using a vocalist after ‘Serene Poetic.’ We wanted to keep the Dreams formula but do something with more mass appeal. We both thought Akie was a great choice.
Diwon: Dugans and I have always had a very cinematic quality to the songs we produce and we were always looking for a vocalist that would fit the vibe, someone who had one foot in the retro cinematic soul space and another in the world of hip hop and pop.
You just premiered the video for “You’re On Your Own.” How did you come up with the concept for the video?
Dugans: It’s a breakup song. We thought a first crush would be a fun angle.
Diwon - Ya, The concept was that a little boy who had his heart broken for the first time makes his first crush a video, he is playful and even though he is hurt, he moves on. Though the story of the video is about heartbreak, it’s an innocent one, nothing malicious just really sweet and playful. The video starts with a sign that reads “LUCY THIS IS FOR YOU” and he sings and dances along to the song, as if he wrote the song for her. The video was directed by Jonty Fine at my production company, Bancs Media. We had a lot of fun making it, as you could see from the Behind the Scenes video.
On your website, Diwon was quoted as saying "If hip-hop is dead to the underground and rock is dead to the mainstream, Dreams in Static resurrects the two and blends their elements into one sonic sonnet." How do you think you are “resurrecting” the two genres?
Diwon - I was sort of joking because so much rap is about how it's dead because it went pop, but now I feel like the underground is even going pop and rock, guitars and guitar solos in the mainstream seem long gone. There are exceptions and folk started to get hot, but straight up rock is missing from top 40. Our collaboration was basically ROCK meets HIP HOP. Me being a hip hop head and producer and Dugans coming from playing nightly in Austin with tons of rock bands.
What do you think people should take away from your music?
Dugans: I hope as art with passion and depth.
Diwon: The CD cover, if they purchase the physical copy.