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Interview // DREAM STATE

“If you are feeling like today is the last day and you want to give up, I guarantee you there’s more light coming for you”, Dream State delve into the making of their debut album, Primrose Path, and the important topic of mental health.

Dream State - GIG GOER interview 2019

On the night of their sold out show at ULU in London, their biggest headline show to date, I sit down with those of Dream State who weren’t suffering from a bad bout of food poisoning. Sat across me with an infectious welcoming grin on her face is vocalist CJ, joined by her bandmates Jamie (drums) and Aled (guitar). Discussing the release of their debut album Primrose Path, CJ shares: “We are really overwhelmed with the response and the love from everyone. It’s been sick. Everyone seems to get a lot of help from it as well which was the meaning. We can’t get over the response really, it’s life-affirming.”

Dream State released their pioneering debut album earlier this year, addressing important issues surrounding mental health, drug addiction, and social media. For a debut album especially, they have created a collection of music that is utterly sensational. Taking the listener on a journey into the darkness of her mind, CJ expresses her feelings in a cathartic way, always showing signs of hope and positivity looking forwards. Delving into the topic, she explains: “A lot of music can be very dark and there’s no hope in there. It’s almost like you’ve been through a ride but I’ve always had so much fight in me since I was a little girl and I wanted to translate into my voice that it’s not over despite how dark it gets there’s still a fight there. I hope that when people see the band, they can see that we can turn really horrible things into beautiful things.”

I’m not happy unless everyone around me is happy, unless the world is happy, I feel like this is my life purpose, I want to help people

Like when creating any album, it doesn’t come without challenges, as CJ ponders: “The hardest part was probably finding the time to write it because we put ourselves in a bit of a box to start with, thinking it had to be a certain way but then we just took all this down.” It’s common for bands to be under a lot of pressure and this case didn’t sound much different, CJ continues: “The label hated that we took this long. But I think that it was meant to be. This has been drip-fed to people, the changes that are coming.”

Talking about pressure from labels and other management, CJ sheds a light on the music industry itself, expressing an interesting insight when asked about selling out their London show. “I did really want to sell out London, so I was really stoked. It’s good for a band, we have to sell these things out because it looks better on us in the industry, it’s how we excel, it’s how bands work. It’s a shame because a lot of amazing bands out there don’t and it’s like why? You see great talent and half of the industry only cares about the numbers. We’re trying to change the world, this isn’t a career based thing for us. Kids are more influenced by music and artists than their own family and friends, so we have a responsibility here.”

Dream State have been very influenced by bands themselves, in their teenage years especially. CJ expressed her connection with Linkin Park and Slipknot helping her a lot to feel less alone in the world while also helping her get her feelings out. Jamie adds laughing: “I used to listen to screamo to calm down and now I listen to classic FM to calm down.”

Dream State - GIG GOER interview 2019

It’s indisputable that Dream State are now helping people through their music. This is even more apparent after going to one of their shows, seeing the crowd getting emotional singing back particularly heavy lyrics which hold a lot of meaning for them. Tackling the subject, CJ says: “My goal in life, if I wasn’t going to do music, was to do counselling. I feel like I want to heal in some way. To be able to that through my passion. I was like ‘oh God it’s helping people’, there’s so much therapy in music and I’ve always known that and so did the boys. We’ve all used it to write and it has been quite a cathartic experience. It’s my dream to help people it always has been and to be able to do that alongside music is just again, life-affirming and rewarding at the same time. It works both ways we help them, it helps us.”

Reflecting on her own experiences before offering advice to others struggling with their mental health, CJ opens up by saying: “For the people who have family and friends around them, just tell them ‘I don’t think I’m okay’, and if there are people in their own personal lives who don’t understand, I know families out there who don’t understand, talk to someone in school or a friend nearby or loads of local youth centres or places you can ring up. I recommend finding someone to talk to and starting to help yourself. It’s a cliché but only you can help yourself.” She also reassures fans: “Don’t be afraid, the world can seem a scary place, but you can find friends in the faces of strangers and I did.”

“If you are feeling like today is the last day and you want to give up, I guarantee you there’s more light coming for you. It’s the law nothing stays the same. You’re not constantly happy forever and you’re not constantly sad forever”, CJ says in an optimistic tone.

Don’t be afraid, the world can seem a scary place, but you can find friends in the faces of strangers

Jamie also adds: “Delete social media, that will help.” With social media being the main topic of their track Open Windows, CJ further explains: “Social media paints this version of perfection that’s not real. It paints this standardised way of beauty. With phones, we have this object in our hand that can give us all this amazing information about the world and everything we ever need to know, and we use it as this kind of beautifying thing. We are so obsessed with ourselves we aren’t using it right. I think kids are going on that, God forbid being a 14-year-old kid now in this day and age I couldn’t even bear the thought of it. I think they see things, they’re only young, they aren’t going to understand that the world is not what it seems, they’ll see this perfect person in front of them and they can’t have that.” CJ clarifies: “I think it’s bad for the mind and we’ve got to change it.”

Dream State are doing amazing things with their music, addressing important issues without feeling the need to sugar-coat them. They showcase the inner turmoil that being mentally unwell can cause while still holding onto hope that things get better because they do, CJ if proof of this. Turning her struggles into art that helps people is a beautifully empowering thing to do. CJ admits: “I’m not happy unless everyone around me is happy, unless the world is happy. I feel like this is my life purpose, I want to help people.”

Photos: Dani Willgress