Album Review: We Sleep Again by Dream System 8

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L.A duo Dream System 8 refreshes synth-wave music with their recent release We Sleep Again that all 80s lovers would want to hear! 

By Stormy Phoenix

What happens when two musically driven individuals meet on Tinder? They form a electro-synth pop duo called Dream System 8. At least that’s what happened to singer Erica Elektra and keyboardist David Klotz. 

Although the romance between Klotz and Elektra never flourished, they did fall in love with 80s music. Together, they have forged a sound that would do Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark proud with their glam pop synths. Dream System 8’s dedication to the 80s includes usage of antique 80s synthesizers (Rolands, Korgs, Yamahas, Casio, etc.) to give an authentic vintage sound to their music. Elektra and Klotz thought of the band name because they wanted their music to feel dreamy and evocative of another era. The 8 comes from the primary instrument on We Sleep Again, the Roland Jupiter 8. Before forming the duo, Elektra fronted another synthpop band called Hearts of Palm UK, while Klotz claimed multiple Emmy wins and nominations for his work in the music department of shows like Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, and Iron Man. Whether it was Winona Ryder in mom jeans or that sweet lime pinto, something (most likely that truly atomic theme song) about the set of Stranger Things inspired Klotz to start a synths project, though he was missing an elusive piece of the puzzle. Who would have thought that Tinder would place his answer in his lap.

Dream System 8’s musical influences include Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Human League, and all those rad new wave artists. The purity and honesty in the lyrics run parallel with their analog synths and arpeggiated rhythms like in “Color The Stars”, a hopeful song about looking at the brighter side in life.  Elekra’s vocals are ethereal and soothing, calling back to Blondie, Kim Wilde, and Dolores O’Riordan. She delivers heart-tugging emotion in her songs and lyrics. For instance, in “You Are”, Elektra and Klotz sing beautifully together in the chorus:

You are the sunshine
You are the rain
You are the days I can begin.

Their lead single “Losing All of You” is both dreamy and enchanting as Elektra’s singing compliments the synths. They want synths as a recurring component to the ethereal wonder of 80s nostalgic music. It’s incredible how their synths sound as natural as any true 80s band just like their influencers.

Though the majority of their songs incorporate heavy synths and drum machines for dance-y beats fit for a boppin’ dance hall, their other songs have themes of family and love. For example, the track “I Think of You” was written for Elektra’s six-month old daughter as a lullaby. Another, “Dedication”, was written for Elektra’s father, who is currently fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Help Me See” is about Elektra’s former love passing away. Next, “It’s All Happening” focuses on Elektra’s present life.

Meanwhile, the song “Shine A Little Light” is a narrative of an ill-fated love. It has a melancholy melody with an upbeat drum pattern. While writing the song, Klotz envisioned driving near the ocean with the windows down and hair blowing in the breeze, letting his heartache flap and flutter. We Sleep Again doesn’t always have lyrics in each song. Lyrics are not needed for the instrumental, “Heather Runs The Marathon”. It reminds me of the music score in The Goonies or in any John Hughes classic films. On the other hand, “Jenny’s Ocean Drive” sounds like it can be in an 80s horror film with its eerie organ composition.

Whether you want to hear their music at a party, in your favorite 80s film, or while falling asleep, this dream-pop duo is paving the way for an 80s renaissance. In regards to Dream System 8, Elektra adds on their personal website, “For me, it’s literally a musical dream come true.”

Favorite Tracks: “You Are”, “Little Ghost”, “Color The Stars”, and “Heather Runs The Marathon”. 

Jisselle Fernandez aka Stormy Phoenix has been a KALX volunteer since 2015 and is studying in broadcasting. When she’s not volunteering, working, or going to school, she loves to attend concerts!