after two eps with virginia beach pop outfit we are trees, james nee formed dream shake, a guitar-driven, lo-fi oriented project that writes songs about fictional women. it’s just nee and his friend elliott, but the two still pack a lot of punch on dream shake’s self-titled debut album, out today via frenchkiss records. i caught up with nee via email to find out more about his new band and came away a conversation riddled with video game references instead. don’t worry; there’s still some understated quips about his musical views, too. check out the transcript below.
we are trees was your primary project before dream shake. are the two still running concurrently, or has we are trees been put on the back burner?
i think we are trees is pretty over. i’ve done all i can for it. but then again, you never know with these sort of things.
dream shake seems a bit more gritty and lo-fi than your last project – in a really good way. can you talk about some musical influences that have been prominent as of late?
the ambient music in gta v is really inspiring. it makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world who owns the game. with that mindset, you feel really happy that the hype is real. and all your pent up emotions prior to september 17th are released as you meld with los santos. you almost want to cry.
frenchkiss records is putting out dream shake’s self-titled debut album, and it seems like you’ve had a relationship with them for awhile. what’s your favorite part about working with the label?
i guess it’s the vindication that a group of people somewhat believe in you (even though it’s not transparent most of the time).
let’s talk a bit about the album itself, which consists of nine songs titled after various female characters from television shows. can you talk about your particular attachment to a couple of those characters, and how you tried to portray them in song?
a character in a story is only a character because they show a distinct emotion that gets singled out by the audience. so instead of writing a step by step “what happened on this episode, blah-blah-blah,” i write about the emotions that i perceived from each person. oh, and they’re not all television characters; one is a final fantasy girl.
what would you consider to be the best decade for television and why?
whatever the pre-netflix/hulu/internet years were. there’s something about making an hour/thirty minute commitment to just forget about the world that is amazing.
what’s your plan for dream shake? it seems to be mostly a solo project, but do you have any aspirations for the band beyond the studio?
i think of music as a stepping stone to gain a following for my pro-gaming career. i would like to be in a real band, but one person can not decide that. so we’ll see.
if i had to play the “band + band = band” game, i’d say dream shake is a good foray for people who like early cloud nothings and real estate. it’s also a good foray for people who don’t. the songs on this album are great little nuggets of pop music, something i always seem to be searching for. dream shake will be performing later this month at frenchkiss’ cmj showcase; if you’re not in the area for that, pick up their record to tide you over.