Dreamgood is the uniquely talented and dynamic three-piece lacing three generations of individual musical journeying into a special collaboration that tells stories in sound. Birthing ‘experimental art-pop’ as a vehicle of Joshua Heath, Mitch Sloan and Glenn Heath’s interchanging familial roles to one another, the music is realised through ongoing conversations and lived experience that transcribes into effortless songs and compelling visuals. All self-produced.
Beginning with the relationship of Glenn being Josh’s father (and friend), and Josh later babysitting Mitch, the three have taken turns at being each other’s teacher, student, friend and musical mentor in life before they finally jammed together as musicians. The rest, as they say, is history. A living dream that is just so good.
With three completed videos and three albums in the works, we recently sat down and got immersed in conversation with compulsively brilliant creative, Joshuah Heath, a soccer player - turned photographer - turned animator - turned musician - and now also a painter, to discuss the inception of Dreamgood, the relationships between the members, songwriting, ‘Paris is Burning, and performing alter-egos as catharsis for stage fright.
How did Dreamgood come about?
“I wasn’t playing music at all, but when I was 30-29 I met Mitch, and baby sat Mitch. We immediately became friends. Even when he was just a kid we got along so well. He’s got a soundproof room at his house and we just started jamming somehow and then he kind of became a teacher to me. I’ve always listened to music. Mitch hadn’t listened to a lot of alternative music at this point, so it was this dual education where he would teach me about music theory and how music works, and I would teach him about different bands. It was a weird experience because he was really young. He was 15 and I was 29. But it was a great exchange. That was nine years ago.”
And you’ve kind of been experimenting since?
“After that education, we kind of jammed weekly for a while, and we collected these vibes, but we never finished anything. We didn’t finish any songs. We just had hundreds and hundreds of voice memos. But then I would walk away and listen back to the tracks to work out which ones I liked before writing full songs, making the main medelys for them. We completed the tracks in the end.”
At what point did your father join?
“Eventually Mitch and I had collected a suite of songs, an album basically. Dad was coming down to Sydney to study Jazz at the Con (Sydney Conservatorium of music). He’d already studied earlier, but he wanted to study jazz, so he came down to do a year of that. During that year, on one weekend, I invited him to come over because Mitch and I were jamming. The three of us jammed… and it was so beautiful. It just made sense. Mitch and dad got along like crazy, they were like two little kids. It was cool. Mitch is 23, I’m 38 and dad’s 58.”
How long ago was this?
How did your father influence you musically?
“I guess dad’s relationship with music was more intense. He’s from a family of musicians which he came musically educated from. But it wasn’t light hearted when I was younger. Now it’s beautiful, but when he was younger he had 2 kids, was a musician, and a music teacher who didn’t quite enjoy teaching music at school. So I guess, with music, to him there was an underlying frustration there. I didn’t touch it for all the years because I watched that frustration. Now it’s special because singing harmony with my dad is amazing, our voices just blend nice - like one voice but with two timbers of it.”
What made you finally pick up music?
“I did ‘The Artist Way’ and that opened it up for me. I did that when I was 29, which was the same time as my Saturn return, which made for an interesting time. It made me realize that I had a desire within to play music.. and then I met Mitch.”
You played soccer, paint, take pictures, make videos… How does music help you express yourself differently?
“With music… I’ve always been an emotional person. Even when I was ‘Jock Josh’ playing soccer there was this emotional world that I couldn’t really express…. Well I just did this artwork and it’s a painting where there’s this scrum of men that basically says ‘the only time it’s socially acceptable for men to hug men’. I guess that’s the world of sport. I didn’t really fit in into that situation totally, but I met some really great people in that still. Music allows me to express the underlying emotions that everyone has in a more specific way.”
What is the song writing process for Dreamgood?
“At the moment its changing a lot which is great. To start, Mitch and I were really the driving forces. With the first album I wrote the vocals, the loose song, with Mitch and I jamming and refining. I’d listen back and then I’d start writing a song out of it at my own place. And then a lot of the lyrics are written just me on my own. Then Mitch and I would get together and he would start orchestrating.
But now, when Mitch and I get together and jam, songs have just been coming up in that process. He’s a really beautiful composer. We’ll work them out in a day, or one jamming session. We let the sound come first. With the vocals, at the moment it’s the 3 of us. These are better songs because it’s a beautiful collaboration between 3 people who really enjoy each other’s company which is really lucky. The three of us are just open with each other. It’s very in sync.”
Have you finalised an album?
“Yes the problem was we did too many songs. We recorded 18 songs. The mixing and mastering has been a bit slower coming back. At the moment we have ‘Part One’ which we’ll release. That’s 10 songs with 2 instrumentals.”
Will there be a ‘Part 2’ or ‘Part 3’?
“We’ll do ‘Part 2’, but we’ve started working on a completely different album, because ‘Part One’ and ‘Part 2’ are all recorded. ‘Part 2’ just needs some more mixing and mastering which we’re halfway through. We are working on a new album which is beautiful, which is Mitch, dad and I getting together and writing everything - song, lyrics, melody, all of it. This new album is going to be crazy. Because I’m going to take on an alter ego, and that person exists in real life. Mitch has started to muck around with really aggressive sounds, so the music will be really crazy too. I’m not quite sure what to compare it to, but it’s a different album.”
Why are you creating an alter ego who exists?
“So there’s a guy named Paris De Bono. He’s a fortune teller in Surry Hills, on Crown Street. I went to him randomly and he predicted these things.. or I created them. But I want to now write an album now where I’m him. I’ve been studying tarot cards. I’ve been really going into that world and working out why it works, how it works, and the psychology of it as well. So this next album we’ll be calling by his name, which we may change, but I love his name so much that I’m finding it really hard. Maybe it’s a tribute album. He’s a very interesting character. There are photos of him without his shirt on, with his tarot cards, flexing with chains. He’s a good-looking, strapping man. But he’s a really odd bod, and it’s inspired me. He’s just incredible to look at, and I love characters.
The thing I really struggle with is performing live, especially with some songs being so personal in the first album about divorce, domestic violence, and just things that are kind of more intense. So I kind of want the opportunity to be more light-hearted and fun, and to perform as an alter ego which this new album is really doing for me. It’s freeing, really. The first album was definitely catharsis.”
Tell me about your first album. When you’re all writing music, where is that all coming from?
“I think it comes from compassion a lot of the time, and conversations. Mitch and I have really overwhelmingly beautiful conversations. Also between dad and I. In the full album we cover lots of different emotions and different styles which really is a tribute to Mitch and his ability to be so diverse as a musician.
Three of the songs came from watching Paris is Burning and being overwhelmed by the beauty that’s captured in that documentary. I cried. I guess that documentary moved me because I went to school in the inner west-slash-west of Sydney where it was very homophobic, racist, narrow minded, bullying…that was the environment. I went from Wagga, Lismore, to being a teenager in the Western suburbs. And it was just very different. Lismore is very open and supportive. Sydney was competitive, and hectic, so many different cultures and insecurities, being different in school and what that creates…violence… Paris is Burning for Mitch did something else. He’s seen it as well and we talked about it a lot when writing the songs. For me, it was a purging of my western suburbs upbringing and welcoming to becoming a more human person; more loving, caring and compassionate to all people. For me, this first album is definitely an emotional thing.”
An emotional love letter to compassion, almost?
“For some of the songs. Heaven is like that. I wrote Heaven, and a lot of the content in that because my nana and pop believe that gay people go to hell. The first line in the song is ‘no heaven not for her’ and it was written for friends of mine who are gay after watching Paris is burning. The song Paris is Burning came out of it as well. There’s also a lot of emotional reactions and stories that come out of conversation between the three of us.
Visit Me was written to my best friend who passed away. He was driving through the hills of Byron bay and his car hit a cow which caused it to careen off a cliff where he died upon impact. I never got to say goodbye to him obviously, so that song was farewell. We had a really beautiful friendship. Although we lost each other in life, as you do sometimes. When he died that song came out. I was also going through a divorce at the time.”
It’s a song about endings, but the lyrics speak about visiting. What’s that about?
“Well, have you ever been haunted by something? You don’t really have a choice when it comes to being haunted. It’s there. I was haunted by Dave when it happened. I find it really hard to sing that song live, actually. Mitch wants to perform it every time because he loves the song. So every time we go to do a gig we have this fight (laughs).”
What about Fast Love?
“Fast Love is more of a pop song. It relates to when love dies, the transience of love. About how it’s impermanent at times, your relationships, when it comes to love. You really need to work on them or else they unfortunately end. Also, I lived on William street and had this relationship with this lovely sex worker. She worked downstairs from me and would hit on me every time I came home. She was joking, and it just kept continuing until it became really hilarious and we would just laugh every time. And that became our relationship. We were light hearted about it all. So when I was writing that song, I thought of her within this room that overlooked where she worked. You would see people pulling up, and she’d hop in cars and so on. So both forms of fast love worked together.”
And Lost Boys?
“With Lost Boys, I hadn’t animated before, and I created all those singing faces of old photographs I’d shot where I merged all these faces together so these people would end with no identity really. And, importantly, no gender. That song came out of Mitch and I jamming one night. I’d looped these cords while mucking around. Mitch started moving them around with a synth. And I started rapping almost like a joke, just fluidly. Somehow it became a song. It happened so fast. Suddenly it was just there, in the world. The song for me is about confused masculinity. There’s something about the lyrics that are some of my favourite in terms of content. It covers a lot of ground in 4 minutes. It’s less of a story, it has a sense of spoken word or poetry more so than other songs.
I love Mitch. If you look at him.. he’s a character beyond words and dresses so flamboyantly. People may look at him and not understand his orientation. When I was writing the song, I was looking at him and thinking about the man he is and how beautiful he is. And I guess that came out in the lyrics as well. I’ve never told that to him. It’s also just about life. It’s so confusing, it’s so diverse, with so much disparity. It’s a crazy world we live in where you can be born in the world and be in a really fortunate situation, or born in the world in a very abusive situation. It creates all these people and they’re all so different. What it means to be a man means so many different things.”
So you all write produce, record your own songs, and make your own videos?
“Yes, it’s ridiculous, we’re the full production team for our own band.”
Do you have of fun performing together?
“Yes. I tend to avoid ‘the scene’ and get these gigs that are unusual and to the left of it. I don’t know why but I don’t enjoy being too seen. It’s something I’m working on. My other creative pursuits were internal, but this, music, is more public facing. I find it really intense performing, but it’s getting easier. With our live stuff I’m taking baby steps. I want to push that further to do something unique and enjoy it more.
Compared to dad and Mitch I’m definitely the newborn. I get really anxious and nervous. Mitch who’s 14 years my junior is calm, collected, together. He’s playing a bass line on one hand, a cord, or riff on the other, a drum machine looping in and out with his foot, and he’s singing harmony. He’s making a lot of sound and he’s so relaxed when doing it, so serene. And I’m either just singing, or playing guitar and singing. And, dad, he’s playing a lot of harmonies, solos, and hooks. Both Mitch and Dad have played music their entire lives since they were children.”
Best gig to date?
“We did this gig with The Fables at Alpha House and in Newtown. The Fables organized it. It was such a good night. It was an older crowd, more underground art scene, a real bunch of weirdos, and it was a packed gallery full of people where everyone sat down and listened. A merging of two worlds.”
What’s next for Dreamgood?
“Next for us is releasing the album, doing as many shows as we possibly can to work on that live performance muscle. It’s a thing I avoided that I need to get comfortable doing. The ‘Paris De Bono’ album. That’s a thing. I’m so inspired to do that. Mitch and I have already brainstormed what ‘Paris’ is as an artwork and it was a great process. We looked into psychology and therapy.. We looked into what it means to create an alter ego and what fortune telling is as well. I looked at Jung and symbol and how it all works with how we could tell this story about ‘Paris De Bono’. We bought all this gold paper and spread all the paper out on this kitchen bench. Over five hours we wrote until we had a firm idea of what it’ll look like, and it’s really exciting!”