Dreamsalon interview with Min Yee

April 24, 2014

Dreamsalon interview with Min Yee

If you remember the mind bending experience of putting on
The Violent Femmes’ Hallowed Ground or Self-Titled album for the first time,
those bizarre infectious sounds spilling out of the speakers defying genre and
shattering any predefined notions that you had about what you were listening
to, you’re in for another tasty treat some twenty years later!  Spaced out garage psych at its finest, it’s
hard to believe that Thirteen Nights is a debut album when you’re listening to
it, and not the work of some veteran group of musicians who’ve spent the better
part of a decade or something making music together.  That’s no surprise though considering the
pedigree of the Seattle supergroup, made up of veterans from such bands as the
A-Frames, The Intelligence and Evening Meetings, the latter of which Dreamsalon
actually morphed out of.  From the
opening chords and graceful percussion, destructive bass and dreamily chanted
lyrics of “Lick” or “Get To Work”, to wild rumpuses like “Twenty More Days”,
and minimalist psych genius in the form of songs like “In The Air”, it’s easy
to tell Thirteen Nights is going to be a wild ride from the get go!  Dreamsalon bring to mind a more Syd Barrett
like Night Beats, or maybe The Violent Femmes on acid…  This is some wild and genuinely original
music to put it lightly.  Combining Craig
Chamber’s minimalist, reverb soaked guitar which provides these dreamy, droning
sounds atop Matt Ford’s amazingly tight drum beats, channeling Moon and Krupa-esque
jazz inspired garage beats that rampage along with Min Yee’s bass which seems
to guide and control the music allowing Chamber to explore, speeding up and
switching between infectious lead lines and tasty riffing on a whim.  Treading the lines between out and out
caveman garage rock, psychedelic space rock, and some absolutely killer boarder
line country and absolutely killer surf-psych Dreamsalon are unlike anything
else that you’re going to find.  If you
read much of my stuff you know I worship at the altar of the heavy riff and I
can’t resist a good solo, and while Chamber is an undeniably bad ass guitarist
it’s more about what he’s not playing than any flashy tricks or bravado here,
with clever rave ups and hypnotic picked out lead lines that tumble and crash
headlong into the main riff and explode in a wave of noise before retreating
back into themselves.  With an
announcement not long ago that they were headed into the studio to begin work
on their follow up to the outsider masterpiece that is Thirteen Nights, I knew
the time to talk was nigh.  Thankfully
bassist Min Yee has graced up with an amazing interview, delving deep into the
details of where the band came from, their early history and the recording of
their albums.  It’s all here and more, so
make sure you check out the link below for some music and pick up an LP before
they disappear because these are some sick tunes, it is psychedelic after all
while you read: http://dreamsalon.bandcamp.com/

What is
Dreamsalon’s current lineup?  Is this the
original lineup or have there been any changes since you all started playing
Matthew Ford plays drums and sings, Craig Chambers plays
guitar and sings, and I play bass without singing.  There can never be any lineup changes in
I was doing a
little bit of reading and looking around and I saw a post on your Facebook page
about how Dreamsalon had kind of evolved out of another band Even
Meetings.  Can you talk a little bit
about that evolution and change?
Basically, the three of us got together in 2009 and after a year we
needed a name.  The working title “Street
Level” was kind of funny, but not really suitable.  Matthew always liked the name Evening
Meetings, but he’d used the name before when he and Craig jammed a few times
with Erin Sullivan from A-Frames, and thought it wouldn’t be right to use the
name without him.  So, we asked Erin to
play with us and, bang!  Evening Meetings
was born, a four piece.  We did that for
a year and a half before Erin started to need to travel a lot for work.  He was a crucial part of that sound and
irreplaceable, so we became DREAMSALON. 
That was December 2011.  Evening
Meetings only played about five shows, but recorded two albums.  One was released on Sweet Rot and one is
still unreleased.
Are any of you in
any other bands at this point?  Other
than Even Meetings, have you released any material with anyone else in the
past?  If so, can you tell us about it?
I play drums in Universe People and bass in Le Sang
Song.  Craig also plays in Le Sang
Song.  Matthew is YVES/SON/ACE.
Where are you
originally from?
I grew up in Marin County, California until I was eight, and
then lived in Ft. Myers, Florida until I was seventeen.  Matthew’s from Chicago and Craig is from
Pullman, Washington.
What was the local
music scene like there when you were growing up?  Did you see a lot of shows when you were a
kid?  Do you feel like the local scene
there played a large part in shaping your musical tastes or in the way that you
play and perform at this point?
In Marin I would have been in 3rd grade or earlier, and in
Ft. Myers I just don’t remember much of a music scene, although there were a
handful of bands.  The scene was teenage
punks hanging out and looking for fun; and also looking out for jocks.  My first show was KISS in San Francisco when
I was maybe seven or eight and that definitely made me want to play rock and
roll.  But my musical tastes were largely
shaped somewhere between Ft. Myers and Seattle, when I became immersed in punk
and underground music in general.
What about your
house when you were growing up?  Were
your parents or any of your musicians or extremely involved or interested in
Both my parents knew how to play guitar and had some good
records.  My mom’s best records were The
Beatles.  My dad’s best records were The
Who and CCR.
What was your
first real exposure to music?
The Who and Beatles records of my parents (Thanks Mom!  Thanks Dad!), KISS and Cheap Trick records
from my older brother’s friend Matt Temple. 
Thanks Matt!
If you had to pick
a moment in your life, a moment that changed everything for you and opened the
door to all the infinite possibilities of music to you, what would it be?
I was fourteen or fifteen when my brother Tai sent me three
compilation tapes he made from Bobby Sickler that had all kinds of weird and
cool music on them; punk stuff like Dead Kennedys and other stuff like Violent
Femmes, Psychic TV, Bauhaus.  Up to that
point I only had access to radio and MTV and thought that’s what music was.  My world was turned upside down after those
When did you
decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you?
I loved that this new world of music was raw and simple, and
the best part was that it seemed anybody could do it.
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get it?
When I was sixteen, my dad said he knew I was underachieving
at school, and that if I got straight A’s on a report card, he’d get me
something I wanted.  The next report
card, I got a guitar and amp.
Obviously several
of you had known each other previously, but how did the members of Dreamsalon
meet and when was that?
I met Matthew around 1999 or 2000 at a rooftop party on the
4th of July.  We started hanging out,
exchanging records.  Matthew had just
split up with his girlfriend, so a lot of fun nights were happening at his
place, which is where I met Craig; and Adria, and lots of other cool people.
What led to the
formation of Dreamsalon and when would that have been?
It was April 2009. 
Craig and Matthew had been doing Love Tan/Pyramids for at least seven
years by then, and I had been doing A-Frames for even longer.  We’d talked over the years of doing stuff
together, so we finally just did it.
I seriously dig
the name!  Dreamsalon sounds like one of
those obscure, absolutely killer psych bands that your record collector buddy
would tell you about, ha-ha!  What does
the name Dreamsalon actually mean or refer to? 
Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it? 
Matthew came up with the name.  We had a list of possible names and it’s so
hard naming a band, it’s one of the worst things that has to be done because so
many words are overused, so many words are too loaded with meaning, too many
are hilarious for one night and lame ever after.  Things I like about the name Dreamsalon is it
isn’t funny or cutesy or clever, it’s not loaded with obvious imagery, and it
doesn’t contain overused words like Big, The, any animal, any color, etcetera.
Is there any
shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
“Do what thou wilt”, as long as you “Keep it simple”, and
“Pass me a Modelo”.
Where’s Dreamsalon
located at these days?
How would you
describe the local music scene where all are at currently?
It’s good.  There’s a
lot of diversity in Seattle, we have hip hop, rock, experimental, bluegrass,
doom metal, you name it.  I don’t know
anything about those mini-scenes though.  There does seem to be a ton of bands.
Are you very
involved in the local scene in your opinion? 
Do you book and or attend a lot of local shows or anything?
I book Dreamsalon and I help friends from other cities get a
show here if they’re on tour, but I’m not a booker in the real sense.  I go to one or two shows a month.
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any local music? 
If you are, can you talk about that briefly?
I’ve released a handful of records and a CD over the years
as Dragnet Records.  The pre-production
and production of vinyl records is a lot of fun.  But after that, marketing and playing the
salesman is not my thing and I don’t enjoy doing it.
Do you feel like
the local scene has played an important role in shaping the music of Dreamsalon
or maybe in the history of the band?  Do
you think you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do if you
were somewhere else?
I suppose, but I don’t know. 
We could be from anywhere.
Every time I do
one of these interviews I inevitably have to describe how a band sounds to our
readers who may or may not heard them before. 
I am totally obsessed with the fact that I feel like when I listen to
music I put far too much of myself and my own perception of the sound into
describing it and don’t do a band any justice when I attempt it.  I especially dislike doing it when I have
such an open forum like this and I can actually ask a band what they think they
sound like.  So rather than my neurosis
keeping me up tonight with crushing anxiety, how would you describe
Dreamsalon’s sound in your own words for our readers who might not have heard
you before?
Nice try!
I really dig your
guys’ sound!  There’s a definite pattern
to everything while it sounds like you definitely spend a good amount of time
pushing the boundaries of fine-tuned, well-honed traditional songs combined
with some noise and psychedelic influences from what I can tell.  Who would you cite as some major musical
influences on yourself?  What about
influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?
We have a lot of influences. 
I guess The Fall, Pere Ubu, Gun Club, Scientists, Alan Vega, Raincoats,
Velvet Underground, Stooges, La Rallizes Denudes…  The usual suspects.
Let’s talk a
little bit about the songwriting process with Dreamsalon a little bit if you
don’t mind.  What’s the process
like?  Is there someone who usually comes
to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out and
compose with the rest of the band, or is there a lot of jamming and exchange of
ideas that you all kick back and forth together as a unit and work into a song?
Songs get started as a result of jamming on whatever comes
to mind.  Nobody shows up to practice and
goes, “Hey let’s do this riff I have”. 
Then when we like something we’ve made up, we keep working on it until
it’s a song.
What about
recording with Dreamsalon?  I mean, I
think most musicians can really appreciate the end result of all the toil and
trouble.  But getting stuff all worked
out, sounding the way that you want it to, especially as a band can be
extremely difficult!  How is it recording
for Dreamsalon?
There’re usually compromises on all sides and in each step
of recording, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  We don’t have a leader and we don’t have some
producer working everything out.  But we
are in agreement on most of the issues that can come up in a recording, so when
we diverge it’s not that big of a deal and we can talk it out so everyone comes
around and understands. It’s not like one of us says, “it’s gotta be my way and
that’s just the way it is.”  We’ve been
friends for a long time and we get along well together.
Do you all head
into the studio when you want to record and let someone else take the helm for
those kinds of things, or do you all handle the recording yourself in a more
DIY fashion on your own time and turf?
We can’t record ourselves, so yeah we go with people we know
to record us.
Matthew Ford home studio

Is there a lot of
preparation that goes into a Dreamsalon session where you all spend a bunch of
time getting things to sound just the way that you want them, all the
arrangements and compositions worked out? 
Or do you head into the studio with a decent idea of what you want to
accomplish and how a song should sound, but give them a little bit of room to
change and evolve during the recording evolution?
The second way.  We
can’t have everything worked out in advance; we just aren’t that kind of a
band.  Things are mostly figured out and
we have a good idea of where we want things to go, but there are always some
songs that lend themselves to being changed, sometimes dramatically, from what
we thought we had originally.  It just
takes going through the recording process to find out where those things
happen.  You can’t be too precious about
a part because it might end up not being the best thing for the song, and you
only realize it in the studio.
Matt Stegner mixing

Your first release
was the 2012 Tour CD-R, hand numbered and limited to only 94 copies with a
cassette tape version by Skrot Up Records limited to 60 copies.  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording
of the material of that first release? 
Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all?  Who recorded that material?  When and where would that have been?  What kind of equipment was used?
I recorded the tour CD-R/cassette on an Edirol R-09 digital
recorder at the practice space (Matthew’s house).  It’s what we use to remember song ideas from
jamming.  We didn’t record those for the
purpose of making a CD-R; we were going on tour and needed something to sell at
shows, so we went through all the recorded practice sessions and picked the
best stuff to make a tour CD-R of.
You released
Thirteen Nights on the ever awesome Captcha Records.  Did you all approach the songwriting or
recording of the material for Thirteen Nights radically differently than your
earlier work?  What was the recording of
the material for Thirteen Nights like? 
Who recorded it?  Where was that?  What kind of equipment was used?  When was Thirteen Nights recorded? 
Thirteen Nights was recorded by Alex Yusimov at his Portland
studio, The Pool, in July 2012.  We mixed
a few songs with Alex in December, and then mixed the rest with Matt Stegner in
Seattle in February of 2013.  One of the
unique things about recording at The Pool is the total analog experience.  24-track 2-inch tape, lots of good mics and
effects and what not.  I’m fuzzy on
particular names of gear we used though. 
The only one I remember is called “The Distressor” because it had a nuclear
option on it, which we did use.  Oh, and
a Space Echo that Alex played live on the mixdown of “On the Bus”.  On top of that Alex is really experienced at
this stuff, I’ve known him since 1995 or something, and his rates are super
good.  The Breeders recorded there,
though I don’t know if the material was released.  For recording Thirteen Nights, we did all the
basic tracks together live, and did vocals and overdubs separately; the usual
process.  On “New Age” Craig did five
guitar tracks on the loud bit toward the end.
When I was talking
with you earlier you mentioned that you were going to have a track featured on
a Record Store Day compilation being released by Learning Curve Records this
year (2014), Held Hostage, Vol. 2.  What track is that?  Was the song written or recorded specifically
for the comp or had it been around for a while looking for a home?  If so can you tell us about the recording of
the track?  Is it exclusive the RSD
comp?  Do you know how many copies the
comp is going to be limited to?
That song is “Brush Your Teeth” which is an old Love Tan
song.  We recorded it during the Thirteen
session, but it didn’t fit on the album and was looking for a home.  It should be a single with the other
unreleased song from that session but they’re both kinda short and we need
another one to two songs to make a good single. 
So far it’s exclusive to the comp but it really should be a single.  Other bands on the comp are Hollow Boys,
Blind Shake, Gay Witch Abortion, Seawhores, Nightosaur, Pretty Please, Henry
Blacker, Disasteratti and In Defence.
You all are headed
into the studio at the end of this month (March 2014) to record your next album
and I am totally stoked!  What can our
readers expect from the upcoming album? 
Are you going to try anything different with the songwriting,
composition or recording of the new album? 
Do you all have a name in mind for it or anything yet?  Are you planning on working with Captcha
again for this record or are you going to be shopping the album around once
it’s done?
The next record has the working title Soft Stab and it might
be a bit more frenetic than Thirteen Nights, but it’s hard to really tell until
it’s all done.  That’s the way the music
sounds to me in practice.  The
composition of these songs is the same. 
We jam on stuff until the weaker stuff falls away, and we work on the
stronger stuff until it seems like the songs are done.  The recording will be at MRX studio in
Seattle with Matt Stegner.  It’s also
going to be recorded on 24-track tape, but the mixing will be digital.  Mixing is so involved that doing it digitally
is so much easier because when you need to fix something you don’t have to
start with a blank slate, or take such detailed notes about every single effect
knob and fader position and a zillion other things.  As far as labels, we don’t know yet.  I would like to be on an African label from
forty years in the future, whose mission is to unearth rare, cool, old
recordings from far away and forsaken lands such as Seattle.  Then all the future people of Africa could
marvel at how awesome these sounds are! 
And at the same time they could be proud of themselves for being
multiculturally-aware bad asses digging obscure finds.

Does Dreamsalon
have any music that we haven’t talked about, maybe a song on a compilation or a
single that I might have missed?
To quote John from the Pelvis Wrestlies, “Nope”.
Where’s the best
place for our US readers to pick up your music?
Midheaven has it.  Or
better yet, ask your local record store to order it from Revolver.
With the
increasing international postage rate increases over the last few years I try
and provide our readers with as many possibly options for picking up import
releases as I can!  Where’s the best
place for our international and overseas readers to buy your stuff?
I don’t think there is any European distribution.
And where’s the
best place for interested readers to keep up with the latest news from
Dreamsalon like upcoming shows and album releases at?
Are there any
major goals or plans that Dreamsalon is looking to accomplish in 2014?
Put out Soft Stab, and go on tour.
Do you all spend a
lot of time out on the road touring?  Do
you enjoy touring?  What’s life like on
the road for Dreamsalon?
Touring is great, but it can be brutal at times.  We called our first tour “Addicted To Shitty
Tours”.  The shows ranged between small
and microscopic, but we’d only played a total of five shows before going on
that first tour, so we kinda expected that. 
When we got to Reno, Clark Demeritt said “Your tour sucks!”  We go out once a year, for about two weeks at
a time.  Any more than that seems
© Drew Gordon

Do you remember
what the first song that Dreamsalon ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?
The first show was in February of 2012 at Cairo in Seattle,
with the great Feeling of Love.  The
first song we played was “Lick”.  Jim the
Bootlegger, aka Overdose the Katatonic, has video of it.
Who are some of
your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with so
Blind Shake, Thee Oh Sees, Pelvis Wrestlies, Diminished Men,
Feeling of Love, Pony Time.  All of those
bands go far above and beyond what you should expect when going to a show.
Do you have any
funny or interesting stories form live shows or performances that you’d like to
tell our readers?

In Eugene, we played at Tiny’s Tavern, which was a real
experience.  A crazy girl was storming
around the parking lot screaming for someone named “Gridlock”.  “WHERE THE FUCK IS GRIDLOCK!!”  We met a cool looking greasy guy who
introduced himself as Gridlock, of the band Slutter.  Inside the bar, the average patron was either
homeless or a transient, identified by smell. 
The guy next to me at the bar was staring at the guy next to him eating
a Reeser’s burrito, drooling, and he said “Mmm that looks real
good.”  Slutter had boy/girl punk
singers who both looked sixteen years old. 
The boy was dressed in a long, old-lady dress from the 20’s or 30s and
wore bright red lipstick.  They were one
of those rare experiences being so terrible that they went into that weird
awesome territory.  Like Tampax.  We loved it and cheered after every
song.  Halfway through our set, Slutter’s
boy singer was visibly agitated and got up and stood right in Craig’s face
while he sang.  Craig tolerated it for a
moment, but then out of nowhere the boy flew into a rage and tried to strangle
Craig as he sang “Brush Your Teeth”. 
Craig stopped playing guitar and strangled the kid back, and lifted him
off the ground and eventually some bar patrons intervened.  Craig yelled to him “What the
fuck!?!  I even liked your band!”  At which point the kid came in for a
hug.  I don’t think this guy said
anything the whole time; it was all just wordless violence and then
tenderness.  We thought there was some
weird new drug that all the kids in town were doing.  It wasn’t the usual drug reactions we’re used
to seeing.  It was the first night of our
first tour, and our sixth show as a band.

In your dreams,
who are you on tour with?
Eight kittens and eight puppies, with three androgynous
triplet humans to clean up after them.
With all of the
various mediums that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why
they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own music?  What about when you’re
listening to and or purchasing music?  If
you do have a preference, can you talk a little bit about why?
I guess vinyl is the defacto preference for releases because
it’s a status symbol and its cool or whatever, and it means someone likes your
band enough to put up a few thousand to manufacture it on vinyl, and then pimp
it.  Myself, I have a ton of vinyl partly
because of the type of music I like is released that way, and partly because of
my age, it’s what I grew up listening to so there’s a bit of nostalgia.  I still buy and listen to vinyl but I listen
to my iPod a lot more now because it is so convenient.  I don’t get mesmerized by the magic of
flipping a record over; I’m mentally strong that way.  It doesn’t make me appreciate it more.
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band live artwork for
flyers, posters, covers and shirts?  Is
there any kind of message that you’re trying to convey with your art or
anything?  Do you have anyone that you
usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to that kind of thing?  If you do, who is that and how did you
originally get hooked up with them?
Matthew is the visual and design person.  He has a good aesthetic, which Craig and I
Do you have a
music collection at all?  If so, can you
tell us a little bit about it?
I haven’t counted my records, but I’d guess it’s about a thousand
LPs, and a few hundred 7”s, a few hundred CDs, and a few dozen cassettes.  My oldest ones are from when I was maybe
seven years old, Cheap Trick Live at Budokan and Kiss Alive!  The rest I started buying when I was around
fifteen and I never stopped. I slowed down a few years ago because really, how
many records do you need?  There’s too
many for me to realistically listen to, and after the last time I moved I
decided that I would rather sell all of them than move them one more time!  But Matthew’s record collection is
I grew up around a
large collection of music and my father always encouraged me to dig in and
enjoy it.  From a very young ago I would
go up to these enormous shelves of music, pick something out, stick it in the
player, kick back with a pair of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the
artwork and let the experience transport me away to another place.  Having something physical to hold in my hands
and hold, something to experience along with the music always made for a more
complete listening experience; at least for me. 
Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
I had that experience as a child too, when listening to
music was new.  I don’t as much
anymore.  Part of it’s because I’m older
and have so many records.  Part of it’s
because modern releases are generally more boring as objects, in that many
releases which are good musically don’t have liner notes or good artwork, or
inserts to look at.
As much as I love
my collection of music I have to admit that I do love my digital music
collection as well.  There’s no denying
the ease and portability of digital music and when you combine it with the
internet, you have a revolutionary concept on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to a global
music market that they otherwise wouldn’t have even known existed.  And of independent bands that are willing to
promote a healthy online presence it seems to have levelled the playing field
somewhat, allowing unparalleled communication between bands and their fan base
regardless of their locale.  On the other
hand, it’s destroying what little is left of the music industry and illegal
music is running absolutely rampant these days. 
As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s our opinion on
digital music and distribution?
I think the technology that enables anyone to record and
release music as mp3, or whatever digital format, is great in that it lets
anybody do it.  It’s also terrible in
that it lets anybody do it.  If you share
my opinion that at any one time eighty to ninety percent of music sucks, then
the fact that there’s so much more music now because of technology means
there’s both more good music to discover and a shit ton of more shitty music to
avoid.  The ratio of shit music to good
music in the universe remains.  As far as
the biz, it seems harder than ever to make any money.  Granted, I’ve always been into
non-commercial/marginal music that was never going to blow up, but when I was
young it seemed like you could actually aspire to have moderate success as an
underground band on your own terms.  And
that didn’t seem like a ludicrous concept. 
It kinda does seem ludicrous these days.

I try to keep up
with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s just not enough time to
keep up with even one-percent of the amazing stuff that’s out there right
now.  As a result I rely on tips from
people such as you in hopes of hearing my next favorite band!  Is there anyone from your local scene or area
that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?
What about
nationally and internationally?
Besides all the bands I’ve mentioned before, I’d say The
Plateaus, Monophonic Hillside, Dan Melchior, The Offset: Spectacles, Kitchen’s
Floor, Ghastly Spats, lots of great Australian stuff.

Thank you so much
for taking the time to do this interview, I know it wasn’t short and it took a
while to get done but I always say, it something’s worth doing, it’s worth
doing right!  Before we call it a day,
I’d like to open the floor up to you.  Is
there anything that I might have missed or that you’d like to take this
opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?
I think you pretty much covered everything!
(2012)  Dreamsalon –
Tour CD-R/Cassette – digital, Cassette Tape, CD-R – Skrot Up
Records/Self-Released (CD-R limited to 94 hand numbered copies, Cassette Tape
Limited to 60 copies)
(2013)  Dreamsalon –
Thirteen Nights – digital, Cassette Tape, 12” – Captcha Records (12” limited to
200 copies on Black Vinyl and 100 copies on Gold Vinyl, Cassette Tape limited
to ? copies)
(2014)  Various
Artists – Held Hostage, Vol.2. – 7″ – Learning Curve Records (Limited to ? copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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