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“I don’t think I wanted it to be weird,” says D.C. singer/producer/DJ Dreamcast about his latest collection of songs, The Lost Tape vol.2. “I think I was just in a weird space.”
The portal to that weirdness? An extended breakup that lasted the first few months of 2018 and colored much of the inconspicuously emotional music that the 26-year-old Parkview resident made over the course of the year. Oh, and he also happened to spend the majority of 2018 touring and recording in other cities.
The result is a record that puts Dreamcast’s unhurried, off-the-cuff R&B vocal stylings through a gantlet of sounds, from hazy soul and club jazz to experimental noise and state-of-the-art electronic funk. It all works, somehow. The word “peripatetic” comes to mind, as does “kismet”—a theme Washington Post pop music critic Chris Richards explored last year in an immersive profile of the artist.
“I think it’s very important for me to explore every facet of music that I like. And not just music that I like, but also music that has been like incorporated into my day-to-day life,” Dreamcast says. “Because throughout the traveling, I’ve met new friends, I’ve explored different parts of the world—some sounds haven’t even made it back to D.C. yet. So it’s really important for me to share that with the people that are home, and just have a moment to like, reflect.”
Although several of the songs were made in New York, Los Angeles and London, the long list of producers includes D.C.-area products like Sylo (the radio-inclined “Sail On” and “Uknowitsriteruff”), baxter (the deceptively chill “Cost of Living”) and Max D, aka Andrew Field-Pickering of the Future Times label (the forcefully groovy “Used2”). Dreamcast’s access to collaborators got increasingly easier in 2017, when the no-frills “Liquid Deep” 7-inch on D.C.’s PPU label captured the imagination of crate-diggers worldwide, followed by The Lost Tape later that year.
“A lot the stuff that I’m doing, it’s not like I’m sitting around paying a PR rep or a manager to go and create,” he says. “These things happen naturally for me because I meet the right people who also have the same type of energy I have towards getting things done.”
Dreamcast—real name, Davon Bryant—also produces music for other artists under the moniker Burymeinamink, a fact that perhaps explains why The Lost Tape vol. 2 still sounds largely cohesive despite its various genre hops. He says he tries not to micromanage when somebody else is at the controls, though.
“When you see someone working and they’re working productively—they’re like, working toward the goal of us finishing the song—I’m cool with letting you do you, dude. … I’m the type of person where if you’re doing what you do, then do it bro, I’m not going to stop you,” he says. “These guys were all motivated.”
He says he’s learned a lot about the range and the limitations of his voice, and he’s more committed than ever to keeping his vocals instinctive and his lyrics close to his own experience. The idea of taking somebody else’s words and singing in character is “not interesting,” he adds.
“I get bored with things. With music I realized that when I make things that actually are like, my story, I can never get bored with it, because it’s like it’s me, and I can do it forever,” he says. “There have to be singers who get tired of hearing songs that they’ve put out, because it’s not them. It’s not even close to who they are — I mean, it might make them a lot of money if it’s a hit, and that’s why people have writers, and I understand that there is a formula to creating a hit. I’m just not interested in reading that formula.”
Dreamcast performs Feb. 16th at Ten Tigers Parlour and Feb. 28 at Marvin.