Shanghai's own Daydreamer recently won a competition which fortunately slotted them into the Midi Festival this Saturday. We sat down with them to chat about their ambitions, rock and roll in china, and a fair amount about American rock bands.
SH 24/7: So tell us how Daydreamer came about.
Roy: I created this band with another friend, who was the keyboard player, but he quit, so this is who we are now. When we started, we found Jerry to play the drums for us. And, we actually also had a different vocalist and different bassist, but over time, they quit also. So, we found Lily, and we thought she had a great sound to be the lead vocalist.
SH 24/7: When did the band start?
Roy: July 2010. And over that time we've lost three members, but gained the ones here today.
SH 24/7: What are your full time jobs?
Roy: Lily is a student, Jerry works for a kind of PR company, and Wave just got a job at a recording studio, and I quit my job last year, so I'm just trying to focus on music.
SH 24/7: Are you from Shanghai?
Roy: No, actually we all come from different cities. Lily is from Guiyang, Wave is from Liuzhou, Jerry is from Luoyang, and I am Shanghainese. When we were five people, I said we were "Chinese Linkin Park," because we were from five different cities.
SH 24/7: What is the creative process like for you?
Roy: In the beginning I would write the whole song at home, and then bring it to the studio; they would listen to it and think about what they could add to the track. We also did some cover songs. But, since we've been together for nearly two years we often get together and jam, and also write songs together.
SH 24/7: What cover songs did you do?
Roy: A song by The Vines called 'Get Free,' and a song by Automatic Loveletter called 'Hush.'
SH 24/7: What about the lyrics? Who writes those?
Lily: We write them together. I write some and he (Roy) writes some.
SH 24/7: In English or Chinese?
Lily and Roy: Both. Some songs in English, some in Chinese.
SH 24/7: How do you decide?
Roy: It's just natural. We just feel out the song and figure out which language fits better with the music. I'd say it's a 50/50 split between the songs we have now.
SH 24/7: Where do your lyrics come from? Anything in particular you sing about?
Roy: Normally I write lyrics that are intended to make people stronger. I want to keep the songs uplifting to help people who’ve had a bad day or something like that. I keep all my lyrics positive. I think Lily writes more lyrics about everyday life. She's only 21 years old, so she writes about her limited experiences.
SH 24/7: Have you guys recorded anything?
Roy: Actually we recorded some this afternoon. With all the gigs and practicing we've been doing, we haven't had many chances, but we actually recorded a song this afternoon. But moving forward I think we will do more recording.
SH 24/7: Where?
Roy: In our practice room. A friend of mine from New Zealand has all kinds of equipment so he helped us out a lot. I lived in New Zealand for two years, so he's my English teacher and a musician.
SH 24/7: How many gigs have you played?
Roy: About 20 shows. Most in Shanghai, but we also played the Strawberry Festival in Zhenjiang. Most of the shows we've played were at Yuyintang and Mao, but we've also played at Live Bar.
Lily: We just played at Lune too, and the Garden festival.
SH 24/7: What's your favorite venue in Shanghai?
Lily: We think that YYT fits our band best.
Roy: Yeah. We've been there the most, and we like it the best.
SH 24/7: Who have you played these gigs alongside?
Roy: Most shows with Girls Like Mystery, but a few with some other bands.
SH 24/7: Having grown up all over China, what are your thoughts on music in Shanghai?
Lily: I think it’s too focused on pop music, and there's not a lot of rock involved. I think there is lots of room for hard rock music. We have elements of hard rock and metal, and I think other bands should use those too.
Wave: I'm from a small city and didn't have the chance to see live music much, so when I got here I made sure to see lots of live music, and I think it's great.
Jerry: I think that people are really friendly here. I lived in Beijing for a while, and the metal scene is different there. It was hard to have good relationships with other metal bands because of the threat of being another band playing the same music. But in Shanghai we have good relationships with other bands, and work together to play shows. Collaboration is great for music.
SH 24/7: Are there any bands you'd like to work with?
Roy: I've been playing in bands for six or seven years, so I've made lots of friends in the scene. I've built up lots of good relationships. Shanghai is a great place to start a band. In Beijing there are a million bands, so it's much harder to start a band and get known. It's much easier to get shows and have your music heard here.
SH 24/7: Which bands are you listening to right now?
Roy: Da Fresh, I think. It's a hard question, because many bands in Shanghai don't play many live shows, so it's hard to catch a show.
SH 24/7: Why is that?
Roy: I think it's because lots of musicians have another job, so they don't have enough time to play. Some people just want it as a hobby and don't want to play in a band. And sometimes it's all about the relationships with other bands and venues in order to play live gigs.
SH 24/7: So Roy has been in bands for seven years, what about the rest of you?
Lily: This is my first band. And I've been with them for one and a half years.
Wave: I've been in bands for three years,
Jerry: Four or five years.
SH 24/7: Has it all been the same kind of music?
Roy: We've been in lots of different kinds of bands. I've been in punk bands too. When I was in New Zealand I was in a punk band. I also played a little heavy metal.
Wave: I've been in post-rock and nu metal bands.
Jerry: I've played in punk bands.
SH 24/7: So how would you describe Daydreamer's sound?
Roy: Mike (from Girls Like Mystery) would describe us as sounding like is Paramore. There are parts of pop and parts of metal.
SH 24/7: What other bands inspire you? What music do you guys listen to?
Roy: It's hard to say really. We just play what comes naturally to us. We don't really draw from other bands. We've got punk, metal, rock, and funk songs, so it's very diverse. I don't think there are many bands who sound like us.
Wave: Jazz. Reggae. Ska. I really like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Jack White, Muse, Limp Bizkit, and so many more.
Lily: I listen to more Chinese music.
Jerry: AC/DC and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Roy: My favorite band is Pantera.
SH 24/7: Do you plan on releasing anything?
Roy: Yeah, we plan to record all seven songs that we have written. We aren't rushing it, but we do plan on recording them around everyone's schedule. Initially we will just put them on our Douban page, but we would like to release an EP or an album. But, the goal right now is to have more people hear our music. We've got video of us playing, but the quality isn't great, so that's why we are recording the songs; to give people our music.
SH 24/7: Was there any particular inspiration behind the name Daydreamer?
Roy: It's tricky. I thought of a hundred different names, but when I thought of this name, everyone kind of agreed that it was good.
SH 24/7: How was the first gig you guys played?
Roy: It was at Live Bar last year. We just played four songs, and it took 15 minutes. When we finished the owner told us we were good and told us to play more songs the next time we came.
Lily: We were all really excited for it, and it went really well. It wasn't perfect, and the audience wasn't that big, but we thought we did a great job. When I was young I performed quite a bit, so there were no nerves for me, even though it was my first performance in a band.
SH 24/7: So how did you get to play Midi Festival?
Roy: We joined a competition sponsored by Zippo that was a kind of Battle of the Bands. We thought about not doing it, but people convinced us and told us that if you are in the top three you get to perform at Mao Livehouse, and then if you become champion you get invited to Midi. Last year we did it and we didn't win, but we decided to take another crack at it this year, and we ended up winning. We thought we definitely deserved it, with all the time and dedication we have put into practicing and getting better.
SH 24/7: With this accolade under your belt, what other ambitions do you have for Daydreamer?
Jerry: My goal was to play Midi Festival, and I've done it, so I'm happy.
Wave: I want to play at Rock am Ring Festival in Germany.
Lily: I don't know much about festivals in other countries, but I'd like to keep going, and one day maybe be the headliner at Midi Festival.
Roy: I just want to keep going, and keep making music for people. We want people to keep coming to our shows, we want to keep playing gigs and festivals, and we want to keep recording too. We'd like to play festivals and gigs in other cities in China, and maybe put together a tour.
SH 24/7: If you could tour with any band in the world, who would it be?
Wave: Nine Inch Nails.
Lily: Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Roy: Dream Theatre.
SH 24/7: Who are you looking forward to seeing at Midi?
Wave: Many, many, many, many bands. Too many to say.
SH 24/7: Finish the sentence: Daydreamer is __________.
Wave: Rock and Roll. I want to be a rockstar.
Jerry: A team who wants to express our opinions to people who listen to our music. And we are a team who wants to express the freedom of opinion.
Roy: The band who works very hard, is very honest, and wants to support everyone.