YOUTUBE SENSATIONS? CAREFUL SAYING THAT AROUND THIS UBER-AMBITIOUS WELSH GANG…
Here’s a question for you: how does a UK band get thousands of fans across the U.S., rack up four million youtube views on a single song and then get signed to an Australian label, all within six months? No, seriously, we need to know, because that’s what Swansea natives Dream State have managed.
“It all happened so fast, it was hard to handle,” confesses CJ, frontwoman of what can accurately be described as one of the UK’S hottest bands. “when I think about it all I start to feel a bit sick. Sometimes I feel like I might pop!”
With accolades and attention suddenly raining upon them, you could assume that the post-hardcore quintet have had an easy journey. But that’s far from the truth. They’re the product of a turbulent environment, a battle with addiction, and are testament to the power of self-belief.
“There are only a few gig venues left near us,” CJ explains. “they’re dropping like flies and it’s really sad. The local music community is still there, it’s just finding somewhere to house loads of rowdy gig goers and loud music – that’s the problem.”
This was the first obstacle Dream State faced and, sadly, it’s not a problem unique to South Wales. with more and more venues across the country closing their doors, these hostile conditions could prove fatal to some bands. But Dream State saw the challenge as an opportunity, and it has already driven them further than ever seemed possible.
“We toured outside of our scene and really pushed ourselves online. we’re not bothered if people think we’re some Youtube sensation; if we’re successful within our world then we don’t care what badge people put on us.”
Quiet confidence and unwavering ambition have quickly become the band’s calling card. their shows are raw, passionate and powerful affairs, with scything riffs and CJ’S razor wire-wrapped vocals served up in abundance, and this energy has transferred remarkably well into the singles and videos that fans are rinsing on repeat online.
Comparisons to labelmates Architects, as well as the likes of Alexisonfire and A Day To Remember, have been drawn thus far, but Dream State aren’t interested in aping the achievements or the sounds of anyone else. they’re concentrated on being themselves and themselves alone.and in CJ, they have a focal point who can help set them apart. Not that she’s entirely comfortable with that.
“I sometimes have issues with anxiety,” the frontwoman admits, “but all of that disappears onstage. When I’m singing, I can be a voice for hurt people, in the same way that bands like Linkin Park and Slipknot were a voice for me. Being onstage is a freeing feeling.”
Even the band’s breakthrough single, white Lies, is the product of great adversity. CJ found herself battling substance addiction and accompanying mental health issues, but through music she found an outlet to overcome her demons.
“I remember sitting down to write White Lies and thinking, ‘i need to be honest with myself.’ I’d hit a wall and music became therapy for all the bad habits
I had. I don’t want to be seen as some sort of broken individual,” she continues, determinedly. “i’m someone who got themselves out of a bad stage, but the song itself was a complete surrender.”
Unbeknownst to CJ, her ability to dig deep and confront those issues would ultimately be the spark that would light the fire (“To me, white Lies is a sign that my life is better. without addiction, great things have happened since,” she concludes). with the track spreading like wildfire on Youtube, the band were approached by a handful of record labels and quickly signed with Australia’s UNFD.
And the attention they were suddenly getting wasn’t limited to online fervour or record labels. their online popularity in the States travelled back across the Atlantic and soon their shows around the UK were flooded with new fans.
“Suddenly we weren’t playing to 40 people, we were playing to 200.We also get asked by fans when we can tour America,” the frontwoman says. “the plan is to get out there eventually, but we want to tour the UK more first. then we can play in Europe.and then we can tour in America.”
So, if you’re in Dream State, how do you celebrate all of your hard work beginning to pay off? Apparently, you don’t.
“Honestly, we haven’t had time to have a proper celebration.we haven’t popped any champagne, we’re just getting on with things,” she considers, momentarily, “i need to walk out onstage to a huge festival crowd for all of this to really hit me.”
Thankfully, she’ll soon have the chance to do just that at this year’s Download – a festival close to the band’s heart.
“We go to Download every year. I’ve been about five times. we’re there from the Wednesday right through to Sunday and we camp, come rain or shine. I never thought I’d be on the other side of those stages.”
If anyone should know what makes a killer Download set then it should be this lot.and it’s no surprise to learn, given how rapid their rise has been thus far, they’re already thinking of headlining the whole thing one day. Yep, you read that correctly. this lot aren’t messing around.
“That’s the ultimate dream [for the band] and I believe we can do it. we’ve blown up so much in a relatively small amount of time, we have the power to get there. Fuck it, I really believe that. I believe in us 100 per cent.”
Well, we demanded answers and now we have them.to date, the secret to Dream State’s success is a heavy dose of determination, unwavering self-belief and the ability to dig deep in the face of adversity. The only question remaining, then, is where will that combination take them? Based on the last year alone, it’s safe not to set any limits…
“I CAN BE A VOICE FOR HURT PEOPLE” CJ