Amplifying Dissent with Dream Machine
Dream Machine share some advice on living the dream and saving music from mediocrity.
This interview is part of a series discussing mandates, restrictions and censorship with musicians and music fans—read more of these interviews here.
Dream Machine are everyone's favorite husband and wife psych-rock duo — comprised of Los Angeles based musicians Matthew & Doris Melton. Their highly anticipated third album Living the Dream is out June 3, and the video for the first single "Until Tomorrow" debuted today! Watch it here:
Dream Machine 'drinks the kool aid' in their new music video for "Until Tomorrow". The video depicts Matthew Melton as the leader of a death cult who recruits a homeless girl (Doris Melton) into the cult and together they proceed to kill their followers with poisoned kool aid. It's a playful commentary on the uncertainty of life and the idea of living 'in the moment'. The video was shot by cinematographer Glenn Roland who is responsible for many cult classic films of the 70s and 80s including R.O.T.O.R. and also features an amusing cameo by Ariel Pink who plays a janitor.
In 2017, they were unjustly canceled by their record label after the unforgivable mistake of having opinions about topics during an interview promoting their album, The Illusion. The album is great. The interview is great. You can read the interview here.
Since then, they've started their own label Fuzz City Records and have been creating thoughtful content on their YouTube Channel about analog recording, gear and other fascinating topics.
I'm very eager to find a way to remove the divisiveness that has taken over music — and move towards ignoring politics and just being more tolerant and nice to each other — though that feels impossible when there is a faction whose political beliefs are that live music is unclean, in need of regulation and/or unnecessary. What do y'all think is the best way to encourage tolerance and personal choice and bring live performance back without restrictions?
Doris Melton: After everything Dream Machine's been through it stood out to us that the people who are overwhelmingly loud about their beliefs tend to be hiding the opposite belief inside. Carl Jung talks about this when he speaks of the ''shadow self''. The entire concept behind being ''tolerant'' stems from an inherent fear of mediocrity.
Mediocrity is something we fear as human beings because it inherently goes against the progression of our species. You have these otherwise ''normal'' kids showing mom and dad that they're unprejudiced towards their blue-haired, pierced, and tattoo'd friends in an effort to reject banality, so that they may be observed as original thinkers. This is what happens when people who otherwise have no skill, talent, or desire to create anything try to take over music and art scenes.
They're very mediocre people who cover themselves in tattoos and piercings, develop extensive knowledge of expensive punk rock records and film, and put emphasis on appearing more ''alternative'' than others, learn everything there is to know about oppressed people and otherwise unrepresented classes in an effort to seem original, principled, and above all, more interesting than others. This is why they aren't open to honest discourse; it's not about the politics for them, it's about appearances.
When things are solely about appearances, we can only scratch the surface of what might be the truth. That's why it feels like we speak to brick walls when we talk to the people who have these same regurgitated ideas. It's a recent phenomenon, so we're just now figuring out how to tackle this problem. The only way I see a way for all of us to freely play music regardless of political or otherwise unorthodox ideas is that we have to stop acting like the reaction we receive to our thoughts is normal.
We can't keep allowing ourselves to disappear; we can't just fade away any time someone tries to bring us down or to control us. It's ultimately a battle of egos more so than a battle of ideas. You have to allow the positive aspects of your ego - the ego that is on your side and wants you to survive, not the evil side - to fight for itself. Why shouldn't you be allowed to have a say if they're allowed to have a say? Why shouldn't you play that stage if they're allowed to play that same stage? Who put the idea in your head that you're not worthy just because 10 people on the internet disagree with your message?
It's not cancel culture that's the problem, it's everyone's incredibly cowardly response to being canceled. We created this atmosphere, not them. Let's show some horns for a change! Book some shows or something, put a bill together. Don't have a venue that will host un-vaccinated, unmasked people? Host it at your house, who cares!
Anybody who still thinks covid is a thing in May of 2022 is mentally insane and needs to be publicly shamed. The only reasonable response to people wearing masks outside by themselves, or in the car alone, is to point and laugh at them as hard as you can.
The reason so many people are so sensitive to speaking out is because people who are truly original and different do not need to make a great spectacle; if anything, it's highly embarrassing to be different and people who truly think differently tend to make a concerted effort to seem normal and keep a low profile. So the ones that get canceled for these actually original ideas remain quiet because it's always been in their nature to do so. We think that's stupid and is ultimately going to lead to bad ideas and the death of creativity.
Many artists and musicians are self-censoring, which I assume is due to fear of being dropped from their label or backlash from fans. One of the long term goals of this project is to help musicians realize how many of the services labels provide they can just do themself, or with just a little help. Can you describe your experience being dropped from your label?
Doris Melton: Getting dropped from our record label wasn't that big of a deal, honestly. The record label we were on was created by a rich white drug addict for the purposes of receiving more profit so he started putting out his own records and other band's projects just because he could and wanted to maintain his fading appearances.
I was actually the only female refugee that has ever been on his label, even when they tout the support for unrepresented classes. When I met this loser in person he was a very typical macho ego-trip type guy who wouldn't as much as shake my hand upon meeting him, so I kind of never really liked that label and its associates. When we were freed from their claws, it allowed us to speak out freely without consequence, but that was a by-product after a pretty serious upheaval.
The upheaval included pretty major slander campaigns from fans who turned into enemies overnight while experiencing major support campaigns from strangers who turned into Dream Machine loyalists overnight just because we refuse to bow down for anyone. Now our fans include people from all political sides who feel like the harsh mistreatment of one another has to stop, people who don't want to shun their family members over who they've voted for.
We were lucky that they didn't own any of our catalog! Musicians; get business smart before you start working with any label/booker/promoter/publicist! Learn to read between the lines!
Here's our advice for anyone who gets canceled; please have some self-respect and stand up for yourself! If you've never had to stand up for yourself, now you have the chance to do so. It makes you stronger. The purpose of life is to face challenges and grow.
Reach out to news outlets, hire lawyers, and do anything you can think of to get your story heard as much as possible. Gather support from like-minded people. If you lose fans, terrific! Fair-weather followers who would shun you at the drop of a hat weren't real fans anyway. The fans you gain after your canceling will remain with you forever.
Then, get in shape (physically but mentally). Read as many books as you can, work as hard as you can, save resources and come up with a response strategy. Borrow money, crowdfund money, whatever it takes to be able to self release your music. Refuse to go away! Take as much time as you need. It took us a few years, but they were wonderful years in which we gained more knowledge than we could have imagined.
We're always open to considering featuring stories similar to ours on our YouTube Channel, we welcome emails to email@example.com.
What has your experience been with live music in the past two years — have you been able to perform live or collaborate with others or has it been mostly isolated? Do y'all plan on touring at all soon?
Matthew Melton: This past year, we became fairly reclusive, locking ourselves inside for weeks at a time, focusing on making our new record, Living the Dream. Everyone we know who plays instruments are mostly in Los Angeles so we end up staying there a lot. There's always a reason to go to LA, so we end up there most of the time.
Once we're back in Amsterdam, we'll be putting a live act together and will resume playing live. We'll be looking to team up with a talented rhythm section based in the Amsterdam area. I envision the ideal Dream Machine live act being a 6 piece. Myself on lead guitar and vocals, Doris on vocals and organ/synth/keys, a drummer, a bassist, additional guitarist, and an additional synth player who also plays tambourine. That line-up would pack a punch.
We have a few upcoming musical projects so it looks like we're going to be living in the recording studio for at least another year.
Can you share more about Fuzz City Records and other musicians or communities that are outwardly supportive of free speech and personal autonomy?
Matthew Melton: There are quite a few people actually, I would almost say there's an underground percolating of musicians and artists who are free-thinking normal people. Ariel Pink comes to mind, Trance Farmers, Jungle Green, Harley and the Hummingbirds, Prismatic Death, Jump Jets, Memory Loss, Kelly from Jungle Fever, and a ton more.
There's hundreds of people that we know currently that have openly spoken out against this type of garbage and we're proud of all of them! It is essential to the fate of humanity to give push-back against a society on the wrong track. Smartphone technology is primarily to blame for the group think. If you don't make time to not be staring endlessly into your phone - YOU'RE FUCKED.
For starters, you should at least only use screens for less than half of your waking hours. Don't get me started on this topic, you'll never hear the end of it. I've been to the other side. There's a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the future. We have a lot of exciting things lined up for the next few years including getting back into releasing new groups on the Fuzz City Records label.
I'm currently putting together a compilation for the 2022 edition of our Summer of Fuzz series. Considering how the playing field has transformed, there's no better time than right now to be writing songs and making music.
Thank you for reading!
You can pre-order Living the Dream on the Fuzz City Records webstore:
Listen to The Illusion on Dream Machine's Bandcamp page:
Watch Doris & Matthew discuss their "canceling" on The Greg Gutfeld Show: