First Look: Dreamtigers – ‘Ellapsis’

Location: Massachusetts    
AlbumEllapsis, out February 11 via Skeletal Lightning.

There’s a constant tug of war at the heart of Ellapsis. Dreamtigers—comprised of members of Defeater and Caspian—are one of the most exciting acts of this or any year, and their keen mastery of competing dichotomies is the straw that stirs their musical drink. Hope and defeat, profound insight and self-deprecation, noise and calm, oppression and perseverance, shoegaze and emo—all of these are two sides of the same coin that proves Dreamtigers are mint. Few records have the emotional and music weight as this stellar release, and while it seems like this mix of loud and quiet is all the rage in recent years, Dreamtigers roar above and beyond the grungy haze. Ellapsis is powerful mostly because Woodruff and company come across as extremely human throughout Ellapsis. It’s a record mostly written and recorded before 2020 that feels as prescient and personal now as it did then. Woodruff shares their musical identity.

“We wanted to fully explore noisier, slightly heavier instrumentation, while pushing the vocals even more in the other direction—even more shimmery and harmony-laden. We always want to make sure that each song stands apart as a distinct chapter in an album, each with its own vibe. I think we accomplished what we wanted on both counts, bringing together some very familiar elements in unfamiliar ways. Will Yip’s mix really made it all pop, too—his vocal mix and drum mix, in particular, really made everything come out exactly the way we’d envisioned it.” 

On the haunting lyrical themes present: 

“Whew—this record has a weird timeline which makes answering this question a little tricky. It was actually almost completely tracked before the pandemic, but (partner and bandmate) Aisha (Burns) and I had to unexpectedly move back to Texas to help out with a family emergency and be live-in caregivers, so we hadn’t finished the last couple vocal harmonies until March 2020 when those first few quarantine weeks started. So, the topics and themes we started out with feel different when viewed through the prism of that additional pain and trauma. But I think you nailed it—somber and searching for hope, amid a myriad of topics about different kinds of trauma, from losing a friend, and a family member, to more structural traumas like racism and displacement. We wanted to write looking through generations and a fluid lens of past present and future, to see how absurd the systems of oppression we exist in truly are, and to feel more connected to other humans struggling to live within and dismantle them.”

On how exactly they made the competing elements work together: 

“This question of the songwriting process always baffles me because I don’t really have a formula except to keep chasing sounds and melodies and harmonies until a song happens. Sometimes that takes minutes, sometimes years, and I’ve tried starting with a rhythm, a riff, a melody, and a feeling first and every starting point can lead to great or terrible music. I can say though that writing for this band comes the most naturally to me—I’m not writing a hardcore riff or a folk riff or anything. I’m just playing and exploring.  Usually, [we start] with a guitar part and/or a vocal melody with scratch lyrics, and we just kind of build the song from there. The process is pretty organic, which I guess as the layers are added makes it seem dense. We love playing in this band and I’m glad that shines through. We’ve been writing together for so long that we usually kind of know where the song has to go without talking too much about it. We just keep playing what we’ve got and then improvising where it can go. Then when we bring it to the band, everyone kind of explores it together. This record left a lot of space for full-band sonic exploration, and I think it paid off. (The other band members) always have such good, wild ideas that still serve the song. Usually after we’ve played the song two or three times together, we’ve got it pretty well outlined. It’s a weird combination of slow natural progress, and spontaneity.”

Watch the video for “I See The Future” here:

For more from Dreamtigers, find them on Facebook, Bandcamp, and their official website.

Photo courtesy of Dreamtigers and Research & Art Development

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