With VLLNS, Dreamhour has made an exciting Synthwave soundtrack to the movie of his mind, and a firm foundation into the current electronic music scene in India
Debo Sanyal—better known in the Synthwave world as Dreamhour—is doing amazing things in the Indian electronic underground. Through his heritage and love for film and video game soundtracks, he concocted one of Synthwave’s hottest releases in 2018, released through New Retro Wave. A Bappiwave masterpiece, VLLNS takes a vintage approach to the romantic notions of horror, action and mystique, all creating a beautiful paradox between mystery and the absolute. Dive into the album and the listener experiences technicolor scenery emanating from Dreamhour’s mind. Sanyal’s work as a musician and producer has resulted in an exceptional ability to thrill synth fans while exploring deep creativity in the art. Here he talks about the making of VLLNS and what it all means to him.
How did you become influenced with synth music? What elements about the ideology of the movement attracted you to want to become Dreamhour?
It was never a conscious decision. Like most Indian kids growing up without internet, I listened to a lot of Bollywood music and most of them had a lot of synths and the nostalgic attachment was born out of it, probably. Later, during high school, I discovered GTA Vice City which really set off the synth-head in me. The ’80s heavy soundtrack was a brilliant new discovery and later when I started making my own music, parts of this early influence stayed strong. I think the melodic simplicity and groove-based nature of Synthpop really attracted me and helped create this specific sound for Dreamhour.
How did you develop the skills to create the production that we hear as Dreamhour? What can you take from India and your surroundings that lead to this style or do you look at external sources for motivation? If so, what are they?
As Dreamhour, I’ve mostly approached music making like I’d approach working on a movie soundtrack, except that I end up singing on it most of the time and the movies are inside my head. I’m still developing my skills and the latest album taught me quite a bit regarding songwriting, production and mixing. But it’s still a work in progress. Hopefully, my upcoming release(s) will prove how much I’ve learned from it.
India definitely does lend a lot to the music I make and my latest album is a direct result of it. India is very chaotic and at the same time very colourful and VLLNS is all about that.
What was the main inspiration for VLLNS?
When I wrote the songs, I had these imaginary movie scenes in my head. I began making the music for these scenes. Later I showed these demos to Visual Amnesia. He described this whole art idea and that’s how I further ended up finishing the songs. Most of the album was already written before he made the art. Lyrically, it is still a personal record, however, his ideas helped a lot in adding some final elements to the music which, well, made it sound more like VLLNS.
The album is part action soundtrack, part horror. Tell me about the initial conceptual plans and thought process for developing VLLNS? Was that initially thought of as a concept-like album or something different?
I hadn’t made this album with any specific concept in mind. These were some personal songs with varying themes written around tunes for the imaginary movie inside my head. However, when Visual Amnesia described his idea for VLLNS, I immediately revisited the songs and arranged it in a way that makes more sense as a soundtrack to this part action, part horror soundtrack without compromising on how I initially wanted this record to sound like. It’s all about finding the right balance of chaos and colours, I guess.
The artwork on the album is incredible. You had Visual Amnesia Design. What is it about the cover art and how does that fit into the construct of the album?
It sets the mood and theme with this whole megacity and its characters complement the music. We get to see how they progress throughout the album. VA listened to the songs and created these personalities around each song and when I saw the WIP characters, I added and subtracted layers off the tracks to further complement these ‘personalities’. I think Visual Amnesia unknowingly helped me produce this record with his constant visual ideas haha.
Dreamhour – Eat.Saul.Riot (Music Video)
“Eat.Saul.Riot” is an incredible song with amazing vocals. Tell me more about this song and what songs led to vocal tracks and why? Also tell me about songs like the adrenaline-drenched “Blood Patrol” and why you brought in various guitarists for collaboration on songs like these and “Shobdohin” and “Eat.Snot.Riot.”
Thank you. I have no idea when I wrote this song and why I wrote it. I remember really digging the lyrics and it just ended up being on the album. I’m not even sure if it was supposed to be on it in the first place but it sounded cool to me.
“Blood Patrol” is one of the most VLLNS-y track of the lot. I had just sung on a song for Powernerd on their new EP and asked Paddy if he’d be up to play some guitars on this track I produced. He immediately agreed. A couple of emails to and fro, and the track was ready.It was kind of the same with ‘Shobdohin’. I was in touch with Moses Koul who messaged me a year earlier to appreciate my then newly released EP. I was appreciating the sick bands he was a part of and we ended up doing a song together.
‘Eat. Snot. Riot’ was really just an extended version of ‘Eat. Saul. Riot’. I was really getting into the music of Ultraboss around that time. I asked PJ if he’d be interested in doing his thing on this track. He agreed, and we had this baby.
VLLNS is your debut release. What was it like looking back on the finished product?
I think this album is an important milestone for me. It allowed me to discover new songwriting and production ideas and also helped me reach Dreamhour to more people. I’m curious where it will go next.
What is the electronic scene like in India where you live? As a producer, do you do anything in addition to Dreamhour?
There is a burgeoning underground electronic music scene in the country (along with the commercial EDM scene, of course). There are some brilliant producers in the scene, and I am a big fan of most of them. It’s definitely going to be a while before my beautiful little hometown catches up. But the rest of the country has been pretty prolific, and it’s only getting better.
Apart from Dreamhour, I also produce music as Debo (http://soundcloud.com/debo1995) and occasionally score for short films and do mixing and production duties for other artists as well.
Dreamhour – Cerebal Chase (New Retro Wave)
What is Dreamhour like live? How often do you get to perform live? Do you hope to expand doing shows?
So far, I have been performing live solo. I’m hoping to expand it with a full band setup sometime this year. Even though Dreamhour has been around since I was 17, it’s been only a little over a year that I have been performing live. Since the release of VLLNS, there has been a steady rise in the number of shows I get to perform, and I’m hoping it multiplies in the coming days. More visual sets are also in the pipeline.
What do you have planned for 2019?
Currently, I’m working on a new album which, if all goes well, should be out later this year and also trying to get together a full band setup for the live shows. More shows and a new album is my ideal idea of 2019. Fingers crossed.
What do you hope to achieve as a musician, producer, and in the synth scene?
I don’t want to belong to any particular ‘scene’. I just want to make the type of music I love. Hopefully I can reach out to more people without having to compromise on anything.