By Keith Sharp
There’s a valid reason why Neon Dreams’ latest six-track `Wolf, Princess And Me” EP is described as a `Genre Defying’ record and that’s because the tracks on this release do defy description.
On the phone from his hometown Halifax, Nova Scotia, band guitarist Matt Gats confirmed that while their second EP `To You’ was touted as an EMDS/Hip Hop flavoured record, primarily based on the input of ace hip-hop artist Kardinal Offishall on hit track “Marching Band”, Gats, lead vocalist Frank Kadillac, drummer Adrian Morris and new keyboardist Jason O’Grady have broadened their musical landscape. A landscape that will be broadened even further when Neon Dreams open for Hedley on a 32-date national tour in February.
“Frank, Adrian and I have played hip-hop/rap in the past, we’ve been together in bands for about nine years, we’ve gone through all the genres from rap to pop to rock, what you hear now is us putting everything we have learn into one project” Gats explained.
Described as a `Fairy Tale For The Millennials’, Gats agreed that there is a specific concept with Kadillac’s lyrics, that all the songs flow together and anyone fortunate to catch Neon Dreams preview the new release at Toronto’s Rivoli venue will concur that there’s nothing even remotely hip hop about the new E. P’s direction.
When suggested that one track; “Rescue” sounded like a Sting track, Gats jumped all over the comparison. “There you go, Sting was in the Police with that pop reggae sound, and then he moved on to soul and R&B with his solo records and then he did that acoustic record. All different directions but all by the same artist,” he noted. “
Explaining that the band plans to shoot a video for each track and combine the videos into one cohesive short movie to explain the E. P’s concept, Gats notes `Wolf Princess And Me’ marks another indicator of Neon Dreams’ constant evolution.
“That first two record was the end result of us writing a bunch of songs together but there was no cohesive direction.” Allowed Gats.” With ‘Wolf, Princess And Me’ there’s a lot more of cohesiveness with the record.”
An indication of the band’s progression is that original DJ/keyboardist Corey LaRue has now stepped aside to concentrate his full efforts towards his song writing/publishing and production duties. Both he and the band have been signed by Vancouver boutique publishing company Hyve Town and LaRue says he is “working my tail off to make Neon Dreams the biggest band in the world.”
Although Neon Dreams won four 2017 Music Express Awards, primarily in the rap/hip-hop categories (based on fanatical social media fan support), Gats concurred that the confusion surrounding categorizing their music has hurt them with Juno Award recognition, having failed to be nominated in any rap/dance category.
The band also won a 2016 Nova Scotia Music Award in the Electronic categories, claimed a 2017 Canadian Radio Music Award for Best New Group and also earned a Slaight Foundation Master Class Award earlier this year. “Yes it’s nice to be recognized but we do understand that some people might have a problem categorizing us and I think that’s a great position to be in where people don’t quite know where we fit in.”
That categorization will be even more expanded in February when Neon Dreams joins Vancouver’s Hedley on a major 32-date Canadian tour, thus allowing them to reach an even wider demographic.
“All of the guys in the band have been big Hedley fans since their first album so being able to share their stage for 32 dates is an unbelievable opportunity for us,” enthused Gats. “Hedley has a dedicated fan base so for us to get exposure to that fan base can only help our development.”