Daydream Fever: transformation, beauty and throwing out the rule book
Updated: Aug 18, 2018
Daydream Fever is a multi-genre artist from Adelaide, South Australia. He fuses punk with Hip Hop (in my view a great match), and soul with electronica. He also releases Hip Hop music under the 'Koolta' moniker. He has toured extensively and been awarded numerous accolades, such as the '2016 Most Popular Hip Hop Artist' (SA Music Awards), the 'Clipsal 500 Bands On Track Winner 2015', and the'Hilltops Hoods Initiative Winner 2011'. He has also collaborated his arse off, including with the likes of Allday and L-FRESH the Lion. No rules and an insatiable thirst for making, releasing and gigging music appears to guide Daydream Fever's creative output, and 2018 looks to be the breakout year for the man. So why does he do what he does, and where does all this music come from? Daydream Fever speaks to BEAT CONTEXT.
‘…a huge influence to pursue my own path in music…’
I grew up in a interracial household, my Mum is of Irish-Catholic decent and my Dad is of Punjabi-Sikh decent. From a young age, there was always a big focus on music growing up in my family, particularly traditional Punjabi music - a lot of my family on my Dad's side sing and play tabla, vaja (harmonium). As a child I really pushed against my family when they tried to encourage me to play these instruments (which in hindsight is unfortunate). I think I was fairly closed-minded and much more into western music than the traditional music but upon reflection I also think as a child if I wasn't automatically good at something I would often lose interest quickly in it. I think as I've matured and grown I am definitely more willing to go outside of my comfort zone and put in work to achieve.
It’s funny how these things come full circle, I'm currently working on a song utilizing middle eastern scales…My Mum's background also influenced me - she was always into dance, Irish dancing, ballet, musicals and I soaked up all those things as a child as well and I guess provide you with an understanding of rhythm and just having a general appreciation for music…But just being around that music and seeing live music from birth has been a huge influence to pursue my own path in music.
‘…I made the connection
between rap and poetry immediately…’
Both my parents have a history of being involved in writing, moreso academic non-fiction works, but they always encouraged me to take interest in reading and poetry. By late primary school, early high school, I had read (or at least tried to read) authors from George Orwell, T S Eliot, Albert Camus and I think you can hear these influences in my lyrics. When I started listening to hip hop in late primary school, I made the connection between rap and poetry immediately and started writing rudimentary raps well before I even knew there was an Australian hip hop scene.
Then when I discovered acts like Hilltop Hoods, Terra Firma, After Hours and realised they lived in the south and the Adelaide Hills, I instantly wanted to be a part of this music beyond being a listener. It felt achievable, these were artists talking about my own experiences with similar accents to me and I thought I can do this too, in a way I hadn't felt as much listening to hip hop from overseas, it felt more attainable. I mean, I was writing my own stuff already, hearing local artists gave me the confidence to think I can actually put this out into the public arena.
Processing life events through music
‘…I always felt like there was a deep injustice that hadn't been solved…’
Music has always been my respite, my escape. When I have had my ups and downs, as everyone has, I've always turned to music to help. I can't count the number of times particularly when I was younger, where I was literally at the abyss, not knowing how I could possibly get myself out of the deep dark depths of my own mind and listening to the right music pulls you back into the light. And it's funny, it's usually the sad songs that help me feel happy again. When I started making my own music, that therapeutic need I got from music only increased. For example, I was bullied a bit in high school and it was something I ruminated on a lot and I always felt like there was a deep injustice that hadn't been solved. I wrote a few songs directly about bullying and my experiences around bullying and as soon as these songs were written and recorded, it was like that anger and weight was lifted off me and I could start the next chapter. Music is cathartic for me. It's how I process everything, both good and bad.
'…I can’t imagine a life without it…’
Every chapter of my life is cognitively processed through some kind of soundtrack - as I live through things, I'm thinking of bars in my head that describe what I'm feeling, I'm hearing melodies that accompany the experiences. That's why I can't ever imagine not making music, because it's just such a deeply ingrained part of my life, it's how my brain is wired at that point.…Making music is just who I am and I can’t imagine a life without it. It’s never been about the money, but I still approach it in a professional manner and would love it to be my day job, just simply so I could spend more time making music and getting better at the craft…
Looking for beauty and authenticity
‘…I've noticed this environmental change from growing up in the hills has had a noticeable change in my music…’
I always look for beauty when creating - my commute to work everyday on the train on the Seaford Line goes past the beautiful southern Adelaide coast and this beauty is always inspirational when I'm writing and creating on the train. At this point in my life, just spending down time with my wife, family and friends is really important to me. We live near the beach and spend a lot of time in the water and I've noticed this environmental change from growing up in the hills has had a noticeable change in my music. There is something almost therapeutic about the ocean and the endlessness of looking out into the water. When your body is being engulfed by waves and you are surrounded by natural beauty it puts things into perspective of how small you truly are in this enormous universe. ‘
I think I am giving the physical environment too much credit for changes in my music though. My earlier music was written still living with my parents a few years before they separated. That tension makes you approach art in a very different way to the situation I am in now where I have my own space to create and I am in a loving and happy relationship with my wife…I feel at home with my wife at home. It sounds corny but it’s true. We’ve lived in our house longer than I ever spent in any childhood home. It’s where I relax, it’s where I create, it’s the hub of everything really.
The other place I feel at home is on stage because it’s transformative. It’s an incredible feeling to kind of go inside yourself and be so in the moment when on stage but also know that you are connecting to the audience and giving them more of yourself than you could in any other capacity. It's liberating, it's terrifying and it's my second home. The home studio and the stage are the two best places to be.
when someone is pouring their entire being
into their art…’
(A song that moves me is) “The Heart is a Muscle" by Gang of Youths. The sonic depth in that song is incredible, the string arrangements on that whole album blew me away actually. And the emotion pouring out in that voice just draws you in. Seeing Brother Ali perform ‘Faheem' earlier in the year when I got to support him and Atmosphere at The Gov had me close to tears as well - it's obvious when someone is pouring their entire being into their art and I think it's human nature to be drawn to that. I think when I listen to music I look for something genuine, something authentic, for people putting their truth into their art, it's kind of intangible but when you connect with the artist on that level, it's exhilarating.
Throwing out the rule book and going your own path
‘…I’m just doing what feels right to me and hoping a few people will hop on for the ride…’
Hip hop will always be the music I love and hold dear and it's influence is still massive on what I do as Daydream Fever. But it's never been what I exclusively listen to nor what I always want to create… As, Koolta, I was a hip hop artist. It's weird, but as Daydream Fever I just feel like I can just be me regardless of genre and do whatever the hell I want to do. Under the pseudonym it's a fresh start, I don't have the expectations that come with all the previous music I have released. If I want to make a ballad, I'll do that. If I want to make a punk song with a fast 16 in the middle I'll do that. If I want to make a grunge song with a dope hip hop drum break, I might just do that. The rulebook is thrown out the window.
I mean there is no rule book, everyone has their own interpretation (you ask a 50 year old golden era rap fan what hip hop is supposed to sound like vs a 16 year old rap fan and you will get very different answers) but all genres come with their own expectations, ie when you make hip hop song there is an expectation you will rap on it, that it will have certain kinds of sounds. I’m just doing what feels right to me and hoping a few people will hop on for the ride. All I know is I'm having the most fun I've ever had making music.
‘…I bit the bullet…’
In 2010, multiple things had happened that had a huge personal impact. There were changes occurring in my home, I had put out my debut release as a solo artist and I finished my law degree. Beginning of 2011 I was at a cross roads both personally and in my career. As grateful as I was to be in the position to have a law degree, I had known for a while I didn’t want to be a lawyer for the rest of my life. With my girlfriend’s (now wife) support, I bit the bullet and changed career paths and re-enrolled in uni to pursue a career working with children and youth as an occupational therapist.
Within a few weeks of making that decision, I landed a job providing additional support to children with learning and developmental needs in schools and I won the Hilltop Hoods Initiative. Those were pivotal moments in my career both in music and outside of music and the two greatly influence one another. When I won the Hoods grant it was like the first major tick of approval I had from the industry that I was doing something right. And when I started working with kids, I felt like I was actually helping people in real time, which I never felt I was able to in the legal world. Now when I have the privilege of running youth music workshops and writing workshops etc, it's like those worlds are colliding and it's really inspiring…
'…I’m at a point where
I don’t think it makes sense to idolise anyone…’
I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes and idols lately. It’s the theme in the song I released in December 2017 “Sand”. I’m at a point where I don’t think it makes sense to idolise anyone. We are all human and we are all flawed. A lot of the people I have admired artistically have really disappointed me with their actions in their personal lives. A lot of the people I have looked up to I’ve had the chance to share the stage with and the experience hasn’t lived up to the expectations you have had in your head. Seeing artists snort up their nose double or triple what you are getting paid as a support act before they jump on stage is kind of a shitty feeling. Seeing one of your idols have to wear glasses and have a teleprompter on stage because they can't remember their lyrics takes a bit of the mystery and magic away. But it's kind of a privilege to even be privy to that kind of stuff.
Daydream Fever was kind enough to bless BEAT CONTEXT with this exclusive drop. Enjoy.
Daydream Fever is currently working on two EPs, the first of which is due for release this year, and something else that he mysteriously describes as ‘grander, more multimedia cross-discipline’. As ‘Koolta’ he is currently working on an EP with producer, Kid Pharaoh.
Catch Daydream Fever on July 18 2018 in Melbourne at the Horse Bazaar for 'Can I Kick It', and on August 18 in Adelaide at the Edinburgh Castle. Keep an eye out for other live performances popping up near you HERE and HERE.