Based in Dubai, but born in Denmark, Daytona Dreaming produces Electronica and Synthwave with cinematic and orchestral elements. Inspired by the music he grew up with in the 80s such as Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Synth Pop and early industrial and EBM acts he tries revitalizing the genre by incorporating Scandinavian tones and Nordic Noir elements into his music. He almost exclusively use hardware synths, analog processors and stomp box effects to achieve a warm yet clear and powerful sound.
Zerp: Daytona Dreaming – I dig your electronic synthwave sound so much! I am excited to be able to interview you today and share information about your music and your music career with the world!
Daytona Dreaming: Thanks for having me and great being able to talk to you.
Z: How did you come up with your band name? What does it mean to you and how does it reflect your style and songwriting?
DD: Actually, I had a couple of names I was contemplating when starting out but my label felt they were a bit too ‘common’…you know, there was the word ‘neon’ in there. I was a teen in 80s and one of the things I remember was always watching motor sports with my dad, including at the Daytona race. So that’s partly where the name came from, and then the dreaming part came from how I generally remember the 80s…a bit like a dream. I actually wanted it to be Dreaming Daytona as there is an old song called Daytona Dreaming but somewhere that got mixed up…hehe. In terms of my music, I guess it reflects my attempt to balance harder driving rhythms with dreamier elements and atmospheric parts.
Z: What made you want to become a musician?
DD: I had an intense interest in music since I was a kid. I grew up in a family always playing and listening to music. I was particularly fascinated by the sound of synths because they were so unique and different back then. You didn’t know what they were so your mind would fill in the blanks and take you to some imaginary place. By the 80s I got caught up in the whole synth pop explosion and started getting interested in making music myself. The problem was that synth were hugely expensive and recording software extremely primitive. They only way you could really make anything professional was having access to a studio, which I didn’t. By ’87 I was using a Roland Alpha June, Ensoniq ESQ-1 and a Korg M1 and then either an Amiga or Atari for recording. It was fun, but compared what kids can do today it was fairly primitive. Reality then intruded when I finished college and I started a ‘proper’ career path (as I guess you could call it). But the music always stayed with me and a couple of years back I had started to have good money from my work and I invested in a proper set-up. Initially it was just for my own entertainment but then I started releasing stuff and eventually got signed. Unfortunately, I cannot do this full-time.
Z: That’s amazing! Congratulations on getting signed!
Z: What is your primary instrument(s)? Did you study music in school?
DD: Because of my interest in music, I did study music in school and I was quite a capable keyboard player and guitarist back then. I had a deep knowledge of theory and scales and all that stuff. Due to the genre I am in my main instruments are synths: Roland System 8, Roland JX-3P, Yamaha DX7-IID, Prophet Rev2 and Arturia Matrixbrute.
Z: How did the group form, or how did you begin this specific group?
DD: Well, in this case it is a solo act. And as I mentioned earlier it started out as a bit of hobby and then it kind of just took off after I got signed. I have a couple more projects on the burner including a more Synth-Pop oriented set-up with a US vocalist. So, let’s see what happens!
Z: What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?
DD: That is a very hard question. There are so many layers to my interest in music. There is the emotional element and how music can touch you and take you places. There is the technical aspect in terms of admiring great musicianship and then there is whole production dimension where you can sit and marvel at how something is put together. Music is very deep, and I guess that is what fascinates me.
Z: Beautiful answer! I 100% agree – couldn’t have said it better myself! I think we would definitely enjoy hanging out and making music together!
Z: Can you tell us about your musical influences? Which musicians/artists do you listen to (now and in the past) that have inspired you in your own musical journey?
DD: Being an 80s kid most of my influences came from synth acts of the time. I was and still am a huge Depeche Mode fan, but I also listened to some of the harder acts from the time including Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb. I like Gary Human as well, and some of the Human League stuff. My dad listened to a lot progressive stuff so Tangerine Dream has always been a main act for me and I can even recall my dad playing the first Jean Michel Jarre albums in the mid and late 70s. John Carpenter was another source of inspiration as I would watch his movies back as much for the soundtracks as the films themselves. I wasn’t too fond of the more poppier stuff and though I got great respect for Vince Clarke, I always felt Yazoo and Erasure was a bit too poppy for my liking. Alphaville and Flock of Seagulls also made a couple of great tracks.
Z: What is your songwriting process like?
DD: It depends. Sometimes you will just get an idea out of nowhere and I will start from there or I will deliberately sit and play around until something comes up. I start with harmonies or melodies as they are elements that tend to move me the most. When I feel those two elements are in place I will start with the rest of the instruments such as bass and drums.
Z: Your song “Heatseeker” has over 18k listens on Spotify (congratulations!) Can you tell the readers more about this song?
DD: Yeah, I was actually surprised about the number of listens it got. It is more less the first Synthwave track I ever made and took all the way to the finish line. I was sort of trying to take the different elements I like about the Synthwave genre and put them together into one track. It is quite a complex track, and that’s another thing about my music… I like to use some quite elaborate song structures with small twists and turns. I think it has quite a melancholic feel when the main theme enters, and kind reflects how I feel about 80s in many ways.
Z: What other song off of your album “Last Call” would you like to discuss? What inspired you all to compose/produce this song?
DD: The thing about this EP was that all the tracks came rather naturally. For “Slowdrive Miami” I had this chord sequence which became the B-pieces and I just build up a more simple A-piece to create contrast. The riff from the B-piece in “Mona Daytona” is like 3 years old and I was just looking for an opportunity to use it. So I made this more upbeat track, which I actually wanted vocals on, but didn’t get the chance. Palm Beach Marauder had the same kind of origin, that is, it was a mix of bits and pieces I had lying around. In this track I tried to play with the song structure and after the breakdown you got this almost secondary piece playing before returning to the A-piece. “Last Call” is maybe the track I like the most for some reason. It is quite complex with a lot of small things happening. It basically started with me playing around with a kind of ‘fretless bass’ sound on the DX7 and that became the start of the track with the added sequencer. At the end of track there is this synced Prophet lead playing which was a small nod to Tangerine Dream’s, “Klaus Schulze”.
Z: What are some interesting facts about your group, Daytona Dreaming?
DD: Oh god. I am fairly ordinary guy to be honest. Well, my track “Electric Voyager” was originally just called Voyager but as I recorded it, my JX-3P kept electrocuting me due to some internal issue and that is how the name came about and the reason for why I added the electric noises in the breakdown. My label boss have suggested I start a genre called ‘Teawave’ after a bungled order for branded mugs. (Z: haha) I am not sure what happened but they showed up as a massive tea set with 30 mugs, they looked awful and we were discussing how to sell them or get rid of them. His idea was to start a new genre and then earn a good buck on them. Right now, some poor guy in the UK has a full 30 piece Daytona Dreaming tea set in his home that we can’t get rid off. (Z: haha)
Z: Are there any people you would like to highlight that are not officially in the band (engineers/producers/etc) that have helped you in your careers far?
DD: There are too many to mention. I mean, Synthwave community is a quite closely knit bunch of people and a lot of them are willing to push your music on the blogs and websites which always helps. Of course my label team from Retro Reverb Records have been of great help.
Z: What are your interests outside of writing and performing music?
DD: I am an I/O Psychologist and Data Scientist by education and I am deeply fascinated by human behaviour. So that is what I spent most of my time on in relation to my professional life.
Z: That’s amazing!
Z: Do you have any new musical projects in progress? Any upcoming events you are performing in or new songs being recorded? What are your plans for the coming months?
DD: I have started working on the first full Daytona Dreaming album which should be out in Spring 2022. (Z: Awesome!) Live performances have been almost non-existent due to Covid so not sure what is going to happen on that side for now. I am also working on a couple of side-projects, including a vocal-based Synth-Pop act. Right now I am recording a track for a charity album which is due to launch in Dec-Jan on my label. It will feature vocals so will be a bit different from the normal stuff I do. (Z: That’s awesome!)
Z: Thank you for chatting with me today! I love your music and your style and look forward to hearing your upcoming releases!
DD: Thank you very much for having me, and thanks for the support. I really appreciate that.