Written by HKE
INTRO – The Foundation
I built the foundation of Dream Catalogue with an unrestrained spirit that sought wild experimentation in music and art. What started as a small Bandcamp page for me to fuck about on with side projects soon became a genuine record label and a full-time business operation as organic interest in the project began to grow exponentially through the mid-2010’s. In time, a certain style began to establish itself within the culture of the label, its roster and its surroundings, which has now fully realised itself today as ‘dreampunk’ after numerous schism periods.
For a brief history and explanation of the dreampunk movement and genre, check out the new video from Seb, ‘Dreampunk: Soundtrack To Dreams’ that just dropped. This marks the first time a deeper journalistic look at the evolution of this scene has been published, so it is a must-watch.
OIL AND WATER – The Decision
Over the past few years, my personal inclination to seek out the next potential in music, art and aesthetic possibility led me down pathways that at this moment are too obscure for most to appreciate (namely, FLAP music, or our experimental Youtube podcast ‘CANVAS’). It has become apparent now that an ‘oil & water’ situation has arose, then, where I need to make a call.
After a period of reflection, I have made the decision to let Dream Catalogue manifest its potential as a dreampunk label. Rather than it being a gallery of my personal taste and curation, as it has been for most of its existence, I will now let Dream Catalogue flourish in the vision shared by its most essential artists and the followers of the label. Of course, I will still oversee the curation aspect of the label in this regard, but with the constant idea of dreampunk in mind – the definition Dream Catalogue has been given by the culture it has developed, and something that I remain deeply fond of despite my forays into new territories.
Througout the last year in particular, we have gone through a lot of significant changes, with multiple staff members coming and going, as we struggled to figure out our direction and method. However, since the arrival of Shima as our general manager, things have become progressively slicker to a point where things are now manageable for me on a personal level, finally. As a new father, this is also something that has been much needed for me. You will likely have noticed we have become more active and routine in the past few months — this is why.
We also have some new associations now: with Vapor Memory, who we have been premiering all our albums on before official release, and LIVEWIRE, who we run ‘Gatecrash Radio’ in association with on Monday’s, as well as the recent LIVEWIRE FESTIVAL.
As for physical merch, we have been in talks with a new vinyl supplier after some mixed reviews of one our recent drops, and are pleased with their experience and the quality of their production, so we will be moving forward with these for all our future vinyl releases – a very reputable British company used many top artists and labels. We will also be returning to producing cassettes, but in limited quantities, with the plan being to drop a ‘tape stack’ each month, featuring a mix of old and new releases, that can be bought individually or as a group.
As for FLAP and CANVAS, these things have been moved over to the recently opened NEW YORK FLAP EXCHANGE, headed by its CEO, Flapzilla, who has secured a multi-figure deal for the exclusive rights to bring CANVAS onto the exchange and also seeks to impose itself as the premiere destination for FLAP media. So if you want to continue following either of these things, it’s recommended to subscribe here by following through the video to the channel:
THE STATEMENT – Dreampunk at last…
Dreampunk has been the definitive story of my own music to date, and so after a long sojourn into the avant-garde realm, I have recently returned to working with this style again – taking my time to craft a new Hong Kong Express album that I intend to release on Dream Catalogue in the near future. As it stands, I feel it is some of my strongest ever work and may rank alongside some of my more revered albums from the past, but time will tell.
In a mix I put together for Boiler Room in 2016 where I outlined my vision for what dreampunk is, I wrote of the concept “Dreampunk is dream music for underground people living in this increasingly surreal dream world reality.” What do I see in dreampunk going into the 2020’s, then? I think we have all defined it together in the abstract as a scene over the past five years, in our music, art and concept, and all of us can give our own unique input as to what that is. But one thing that unites us all is being here in this moment together, making sense of this absurdity of modern life through art in a way that has a certain tangential, underground feeling – one that speaks to us at this moment in time.
It is not something that can be easily pinned down musically, in that you will find the lush rain-soaked ambient of Sangam meeting the harsh dissonant techno of Halo Acid in a mix, but together it synchronises under the dreampunk umbrella. Dreampunk becomes more of a vibe, aesthetic – and an attitude. In this sense, its concept has and always will mutate as we move forwards as more artists come under the tent and showcase themselves.
And now with this name that we have long needed to rally around, many labels and artists are on the same page as to what our mutual intention is, built from the myriad of unique perspectives. This allows us to fully chart dreampunk’s potential going forward as music and art for this decade, with the past five years as reference to our roots and where we have come from.
Accordingly, I have put together a new one-hour mix that sees my own perspective of what ‘dreampunk’ is and can be, with a mix of old and new tunes from old and new artists, from Dream Catalogue and the array of new labels that have appeared and helped build the scene as it stands today, with names representing labels such as Pure Life, VILL4IN, BLCR, No Problema, New Motion, Virtual Dream Plaza, Hollow Point One, Forgot Imprint et al. This mix is ‘The Statement’, which lends itself to how Dream Catalogue will begin to unroll in the coming years. ‘The Statement’ is just a taster of what’s out there and alludes to the greater promise of what is yet to come from this movement.
Mix crafted by HKE
Elegance of the Damned – Those Who Love Last Forever
2814 – Lost In A Dream
Weniwasu – Buried
Shima33 – Forest
Sangam and Iona Dream – Wash Your Imperfections Away
The Wushimi Complex – Lost In Neon
H U I – trC
Ross Khmil – Through The Prism Of Naivety
Halo Acid – Tormented By Angels
LILLITH twin x Castel – Madeleine
Tyler Mathoyi – Quantum Jump
Virtual Dream Plaza – 輝き [Extract]
Pixelord – Robo (tropical interface upgrade)
Loretta Aberdeen – All The Love In The World
Kuroi Ame – Genesis
Sent Down Girl – An Incorporeal Aura Of Rememberance
BROKEN_CANYON – Tunnel
AUT2M – Delta Wave (ft. Tinmixer)
Chungking Mansions – Dual
HKE – Pressure Drop
Remember – Ennui