Los Angeles-based duo The Dream System formed when veteran musicians Erica Elektra (formerly of Hearts of Palm UK) and David Klotz (formerly of Fonda and People As Stars) fatefully matched on Tinder.
Klotz was inspired to incorporate synths into his music while working as music editor for Netflix hit series Stranger Things, while Elektra was a master of synth pop throughout her career, starting with Heart of Palms UK. Their debut album, Music From The Dream System, arrives on February 9 via Minty Fresh.
The Dream System touches on a nostalgic, shared love for ‘80s synth pop that evokes a dreamlike wonder. Their video for their debut single, “Losing All of You,” carries in the same vein. Elektra evokes a shimmering celestial being, while Koltz takes over the keyboard, narrating an intergalactic love story.
Elektra and Klotz discuss their video below, premiering today (Oct. 24) exclusively on Billboard.
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The concept of “Losing All of You”, in terms of both the song and video, is very interesting. Can you tell me a bit about the story behind it?
David Klotz: I actually wrote it before Erica and I met. That was one of the first songs that I played to her when we met each other and were considering working together. Erica can confirm this, but she really liked it. We just jumped right in and recorded it. I think it actually was our first song we ever recorded, which is nice because it just set the tone for what the rest of the album was going to be, and all the songs that we wrote after that. As far as the song itself, it’s definitely a song about grief and loss and love, and all the favorite themes you find in pop music.
Erica Elektra: The one thing I remember is when we were thinking about doing the video, Chip Yamada, the director, asked “What are you thinking?” I was like, “I feel like I’m flying, I need to be soaring or something.” And then David, he was like “I feel like there should be a couple, because it’s about love.” and so then Chip merged our two ideas.
David: We live in Los Angeles, so from our pool of friends, we know a lot of filmmakers and people who are creative. And we kind of threw the idea out to our circle of friends, and Chip came right back at us pretty fast, and contacted Erica. He had a treatment that he wrote, and he emailed it to both Erica and I. It was pretty out there. I was like, “Wow. This sounds amazing. Is it possible with our budget to do everything that he said?”
I think the first thing he had said when he talked about the video, or the first image that we saw, was the idea of this robot girl sitting on the deck of a spaceship and watching signals from planet Earth of this couple. And the way he described what that was going to look like, I just thought it was a cool idea, and it could be an iconic image.
David, you were very inspired by working on Stranger Things. How much did the music on the show and that ’80s influence actually play a role in your music?
I was hired on Stranger Things from the beginning, and I met the composers, Kyle [Dixon] and Michael [Stein], way back in like 2015, or when we were still shooting the first season. It was their first time scoring a TV show, and since I’ve been working as a music editor in TV for many years, I kind of helped them through what the workflow was going to look like, and I got to hear a lot of their music, their songs. I thought it was amazing, and very inspired for a television score.
I would ask them, “Hey, how did you get that sound?” Those kinds of things. They were using all these keyboards from the ’80s — late ’70s, early ’80s. I just loved the sounds that they were getting that you can’t really duplicate with computer plugging, which is sort of common practice now. So, I began acquiring some similar gear, and began writing songs with those. Working with those guys was very inspiring.
How did The Dream System come about after that?
Erica: Well, I remember [David and I] were going to go on a Tinder date, and before I ever met him, he had found who I was in real life. He sent me a text and was like, “I listened to your music,” and I was like, “What? How do you know who I am?” So before we even met, he had listened to my music, and he had sent me his music. I was like, “Oh…” ‘Cause there’s a lot of musicians in L.A., and a lot of really bad musicians.
But then he sent it to me, and I was like, “Oh my god, he’s really good.” So even before we met, I was like, “Whoa, we should totally hook together,” ’cause I really did like his music.
So then yeah, we were talking about meeting up, and I like to follow through on what I talk about. I don’t say I’m going to meet up with somebody if I don’t intend on meeting up with them. So I intended from when I met him to work together. So I followed up, and he played me that song, “Losing All of You,” and I was like, “Oh my god, it’s so good.” And then I sang it. I think we were done in like half an hour.
David: I know, yeah. We were done so fast, and you were like, “What else do you got? What are we going to do now?”
Erica: And we did another song.
David: Yeah. And you played me a demo for “I Think of You”, which is another song that’s on our album. And it was amazing. I just thought, “Wow, we have a lot of work to do together. “
When did this idea of having that ’80s influence come together? Erica, I know you come from an electro-pop background, but your solo music has more of a folksy vibe to it.
Erica: Well, my first band [Hearts of Palm UK] was straight up electro pop, like super pop. I’m just not very good at technical stuff. But the music that David and I are doing now is always what it was supposed to sound like — I just don’t know how to make it that way. But it’s always been pretty electronic, I guess. But yeah, I guess I have a little bit more of a folksy… It’s kind of embarrassing. I don’t want to have that folky vibe.
David: Yeah, I was in bands before where they were heavily guitar influenced. I sort of got bored of that, and I started acquiring these keyboards and getting into reliving my childhood love of The Human League and Duran Duran, and really enjoyed playing those keyboards and taking the kind of pop songs that I would write in the past. But instead of using guitars and amps, we were using synthesizers, and that was a refreshing fun.
What are you both most looking forward to once the album comes out?
David: I think the part of what I like most about our album is that Erica and I, we really concentrate on the songwriting, and we love songs that have a lot of melody… All the sounds and the technical side is sort of secondary to the stories we’re trying to tell with the music. And I’ll be honest, I’ve only been getting into the keyboard synthesizer stuff for like only the last couple of years, so as we were recording, we were kind of discovering things by accident, like cool sounds and weird things you can do with these old machines.
On one track, we were able to send a vocal track into one of our keyboards, the CS-15, and then play hear that vocal coming through the keyboard. There’s a lot of weird experiments we played with along the way. But in the end, I think we have a nice 12-track album with some really great songs, and some sounds that are reminiscent of the music that I loved when I was like my son’s age.
Erica: Oh my gosh. What am I most looking forward to? I am really proud. I’ve been doing music my whole life, and I feel I write really good songs, and sometimes executing them the way I wanted doesn’t happe. And so being so lucky have to my David … I like the songs I write, and I like the songs he writes, and I love what he does with all those synthesizers.
I feel like we’re really good. I wouldn’t really say that about some of my other projects. I’m like, “Wow, I’m impressed with us.” So, I’m excited to share it. I feel like everyone I ever showed it to thinks it’s good, so that’s exciting.