Dream Cop is Tommy Davidson, a multi-instrumentalist artist out of Blacksburg, Virginia. He frequently makes shoegaze-ish, hazy tunes for those in need of hypnosis and musical healing. We think he has a bright future. We posted about him here. Yeah, we kind of like him. So what did we do? We fucking contacted him. Read below as staff writer Jacob Corbin interviews Dream Cop here at The Milk Carton.
JC: Where did the name “Dream Cop” come from?
TD: I guess, I was trying to think about an appropriate name after making "Marooned" and the "Beach City" track and I was sifting through a copy of Naked Lunch my friend gave me..
JC: Great book!
TD: Yeah and as I do with anything now, I go to Wikipedia to find more information about it if I’m interested and one of the stories involved in the book is called Interzone and one of the sub-headings I guess was called “The Dream Cops” and it kind of just caught me. I thought it was an interesting name. I thought it might work. Initially, I was kind of discouraged. I wasn’t really sure if it was going to stick, but over time it fit. And it kind of influenced me to work harder now that I found a name.
JC: I like the name. I think it works.
TD: Yeah it was one of those things were I told my friends, “Yeah I’m going to release it under the name Dream Cop” and I expected a cringe, but it’s great now though because one of the blogs called My Poproks who had contacted me said, you know, "10 out of 10 for the name. Perfect name." And I was like, “Ok good, I can rest easy now.” [laughs]
JC: [laughs] Well to be honest, it fits your music perfectly. Your music is kind of all over the place with these hints of electronic drone, post-punk and shoegaze and this sort of happy hypnosis like in “Beach City / Carol I Know” and it just fits well.
TD: Yeah I was influenced by, you know, shoegaze music and Thom Yorke’s album The Eraser, lo-fi stuff, all of that and wanted a sound that sort of tied them all together and I feel like the name Dream Cop is kind of the perfect umbrella for it.
JC: You’re from Blacksburg, Virginia and you go to Virginia Tech currently?
TD: Yeah, yeah.
JC: What do you do when you aren’t busy with music?
TD: Well uhh if it weren’t for my music I’d probably just be doing engineering work [laughs].
JC: Now when did you first start with music? Was this something at a young age or did it start in college and you spent your free time on that?
TD: I’ve been tinkering with music since I was in middle school. In middle school, I did clarinet [laughs] and I guess bass clarinet too. My younger brother started using drums in middle school and my older brother had a guitar so it’s like I just got an interest in messing around with what I had. We had a piano at our house too. I just tinkered around with family instruments ever since. I guess I just liked to mess around with anything I can get my hands on. The irony is I’ve only owned one guitar. I’ve always had this sort of weird borrowing thing, taking advantage of everything around me as much as I can.
JC: It is ironic you’ve only had one guitar. Surprising, really. I mean as a multi-instrumentalist it’s gotta be difficult I would think to put these songs together. I mean I don’t know. Is there a formula for it or does it just kind of… happen?
TD: I have a visual approach to it. I get influenced by some other artists and have this emotion or feeling in my mind. Sort of vague, not concrete and I kind of work with elements till I reach what I feel matches it. Like with "Marooned" I messed around with drum beats and recorded them with a mic and then add some emphasis over it with some digital bass drums to give it more of a kick. That’s usually how it works, yeah. Once I get some kind of rhythm I work on the melodies and it comes together and from then I just overlay different things.
JC: That makes sense. Seems like the natural, logical approach to it.
TD: Oh and another thing too is in order to tie everything together I like to add in tape loops that adds a hazy feel to it in the background that gives it a nice washy texture.
JC: We music connoisseurs love our hazy, washy textures! But another thing is, it seems lately there has been a decent influx of attention. You’ve had Pitchfork post about you, a couple other blogs like Get Off the Coast and Pretty Much Amazing. It seems like things are picking up. Have you gotten any contact from any labels or artists?
TD: Yeah I actually have. It’s kind of funny cos it was one of these unrelated events that happened at the same time. I was putting together this website for a music festival. Me and a few friends were trying together to get our first annual music festival in Blacksburg, Virginia together called Fever to Sing Festival. I was working with this team for over a year or so having weekly meetings, trying to figure out logistics for a bunch of venues and stuff and one of the things that got us excited was a past graduate of Virginia Tech, Bernard Farley of Output Message. We thought his addition would possibly legitimize the festival and he contacted us saying, “sure, I’ll play. I’ll stick with my roots” [laughs] and while that happened we had a playlist for our festival online and I put one of my songs on it and around the 29th or 30th of March Bernard contacted me and said, “hey I heard your song on the playlist and I really like it and wonder if you wanted to work on a release?” So right now his label is output noise records and he’s trying to set up a release for August and it’s going to include Basement Tapes and Warm Thrash on it. I have to say I’m pretty excited.
JC: Have you done any live performances?
TD: Yeah, I actually played for the Fever to Sing Festival I was just talking about.
JC: Were you nervous?
TD: Oh my gosh, I was horrified. I was one of the managers of this whole festival going on so I had to account for 30 to 40 bands, just running around, trying to manage all of it and at the same time I had to setup my own set the first day. And when I performed, I broke a string mid-set. There were some mic issues where I was getting too much feedback. It wasn’t my best. I, uhh, definitely didn’t have the confidence for my first performance [laughs]. Luckily, the festival ran on through Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Sunday I got to redeem myself with a better set.
JC: It’s gotta be interesting going from just bedroom recordings to live sets and from Myspace to Pitchfork. What’s it been like?
TD: It’s surreal. Kind of a whirlwind these past couple weeks. And I was talking to my parents about it all. You know they aren’t the most tech-savy people and Pitchfork is definitely under their radar, but um well I was telling them how this publicist wants to hire me and how all this is going on and I guess it hasn’t set in at all yet. They’ll be like “oh really? That’s really exciting Tommy, I’m happy to hear that. I like that, but umm have you gotten your student loan applications in yet?” [laughs]
JC: Fucking classic. [laughs] You gotta love it.
TD: [laughs] Yeah and also one of things that really caught me about all of this is the band Wild Nothing. They're from Blacksburg also and I thought about it and it just kind of hit home that "wow, okay, this is doable."
JC: You know Wild Nothing is a great band I could see you guys performing together. Someone should make that happen.
TD: Yeah and apparently they have connections with Beach Fossils. Both of them are on Captured Tracks. So I don't know if there's an opportunity there to get connected, but yeah just seeing them live and the fact they came from Blacksburg it just gave me that extra little push.
JC: Now before we close, anything else to look forward to beyond the Output Noise release you mentioned?
TD: A couple things. There's a publicist from Banter Media & Management who asked me what some of my influences were and I mentioned that I really liked Neon Indian and his album Psychic Chasms and he said "well I help put out that record". I was like, whoa, this is getting insane. So I asked him maybe if he could forward some of my songs to Neon Indian's inbox and maybe get a remix or something and he said, "absolutely".
JC: I LOVE Neon Indian. Please let us know if he does a remix! Anything else?
TD: Yeah the other thing is now that there’s been a little bit of buzz going on I’ve had even more motivation to, you know, go full throttle. So yeah I have two more tracks that I’m working on right now. One of them, the working title is “Dungeon Bells”. There’s some crunchy guitars going on and I’m trying to add a lot of interesting textures; like having that kind of lo-fi guitar sound and also that kind of My Bloody Valentine washy keyboard sound. So yeah. And the second song is another Beach Boys thing. I don’t know if I’m fully going to do it, but it’s a take on the Beach Boys track “God Only Knows”.
JC: Well we certainly look forward to it and best of luck to you Tommy. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
TD: Thank you. I appreciate it!
For more information on Dream Cop visit his MySpace
or Output Noise Records