an interview by Matti Viikate (the year 2020)
1. 'DreamSpy' is a solo project of vocalist-bassist 'Anssi Tamminen'. How did you come up with the name and does it have some special meaning you'd like to tell?
That name just came to my mind. It sounded, tasted and looked just right and it's a perfect name to describe the whole thing. I also created a phrase "the dance of the subconscious and the superego in the world of distortions". Dark, dreamy and somehow romantic, escapistic world and character, in my head.
2. What would you like to say about your album 'My Halo Of Obsession'?
My song writing started from the bassline, in every song. When I play my bass and search for interesting riffs, they always want to fall into ..well, bluesy, darker side. Not so evil but more like deep, capturing and beautiful. So, that's my halo of obsession when I make my own music. Yearning for the dark.
This is a totally self-made (and home-made) album and production. I wanted to keep everything as fresh as possible - I didn't copy paste things, not use autotune or put songs perfectly on the grid. I wanted to preserve that human touch.
3. What do you think about music videos when it comes to your career? Any plans regarding new music videos? And what do you think about music videos in general, are they important?
I think DreamSpy's music is quite visual and even cinematic. That's why I started to make those lyric videos too. I'm a beginner and there's a lot to improve but I'll continue to make videos in the future too. And make collaborations with other video artists.
I grew up watching music videos from TV in the 80's and 90's so it's a very natural art form for me. I think you really must think about visual things nowadays if you want your music to get noticed. But it's ok to me, I'm an audiovisual person.
4. Any memories from your career you'd like to tell?
I started to play in the band when I was 15. At first in the 80's it was some kind of a rockabilly stuff but when I started to listen to hard rock, metal and grunge artists, it influenced my composing and sound. I had a band called Silverine and we released two albums during the years 2001-2010. We were not really active and played gigs only every now and then. I lost my motivation, quit the band in 2010 and stopped making my own music. I didn't play or compose any music for five years. But slowly I got my passion for music back and started to make new songs at my home, just by myself. I found out that I don't necessarily need a drummer or guitarist or even any guitar tracks in my music..
5. Are there any past, present or future collaborations with other musicians that you'd like to say something about?
I think "nobody" knows me. I'm not a socially active guy either and like to do things by myself. Of course it's fun to play with other musicians too but.. I will continue this DreamSpy's music trip, and I will keep it as a solo project.
6. You made a cover of Madonna's 'LIKE A VIRGIN' with the music video on your YouTube. What would you like to say about that? And if you would now do a cover version of some song(s), what song(s) would it be and how would you do it, would you keep it as close to the original as possible or make it clearly your own? Also, what do you think about covers in general?
That Madonna cover...in fact it's just a demo I made, in free tempo without click track or so.. only one bass track and vocals. Plus that weird "rhythm section". I recently got an idea for a video and thought it could be cool to publish that cover version under DreamSpy.
I have made a demo version of Alice in Chains "Man in the box" but I'm not sure if I will ever publish it. A-ha's song "Hunting high and low" could be worth trying in the future..it's a beautiful song.
My way to do cover versions has always been "my way". I don' t want to imitate original versions or show off my skills, I want to be creative.
But I find it kind of sad that if you want to get noticed on YouTube, the best and fastest (sometimes only) way is by making a cover version of a popular song or artist. Algorithms, everywhere.
7. What do you think about live shows, are they important? And what would be your idea of a perfect live show for you?
In fact I have been preparing for live shows. There is a 40 minute set ready for the gigs, 6 instrumental and industrial drums+bass songs + 6 DreamSpy songs. One man shows with backing tracks. Maybe some live visuals and two dance girls. I don't know yet. :) Some day.
8. Which do you prefer, physical copies like CDs/vinyls/cassettes, or digital downloads?
I prefer physical copies but it's so easy to use Spotify and stuff too. Unfortunately there won't be a physical DreamSpy album available, so far. Spotify release date is on June 26th.
9. Besides all of these things, what kind of future plans do you have for your career at the moment?
I will update my sounds and video editing software and start to make new stuff. I haven't composed any new songs for two years so it's interesting to see and hear where that all goes now..
10. Anything else you'd like to say?
I hope that people who like dark, experimental and atmospheric rock will find DreamSpy's music, all over the world. If you like it, feel free to comment and share your feelings on DreamSpy's Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (dreamspyart) channels and help to spread the word. I like to converse about music so try me. If you're a video artist or still photographer and would like to collaborate with DreamSpy, please contact via dreamspy.org. Thanks!
a FORGOTTEN/unknown INTERVIEWer (the year 2020)
1. Can you tell something about your musical evolution
up to the point you decided to create this album? I found an old Soundcloud
page of yours which sounds, well, different.
(Fun fact: my singing teacher had me sing "Toxic" for weeks to train my falsetto voice)
When I was a kid my parents listened to artists like Earth, Wind&Fire, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Donna Summer, Dionne Warwick, BeeGees, Barbara Streisand - great singers and soulful, groovy, "happy" music.
My songs have always been something else but that groove and soul I heard back then is always present.
I started to sing and play an upright bass when I was 15. I had been influenced by rockabilly and psychobilly bands since the early 80's. We had a trio and we first played covers but I soon started to make my own songs - they were a blend of rockabilly and "street rock". Couple of years later I listened to more hard rock, metal and prog bands, and later as I heard Seattle grunge bands, their sound really inspired me to develop my bass sound and singing style.
I had different combos around me from the year 1985 to 2010 but then I quit playing for 4 years. I wanted to do something else and I even participated in Voice of Finland 2012 and I was a part of Michael Monroe's team. After VOF I recorded some vocals to pop cover songs just for fun, and I had a plan to make cover song gigs too, but realised soon I don't really want to do that..
But as a singer I think my range and ability to sing in different styles is quite wide - I have even sung live old Finnish schlagers.
Year 2016 - first time in my life - I tried to make music just by myself, without band members. I made 9 groovy industrial vibe songs as Basstor Ansgarius (check out on Bandcamp). That session was a good practice for drum programming and layering the bass tracks.
This DreamSpy project was a natural extension two years later.
2. Using an electric upright bass as the main instrument is certainly a very different approach than what most rock bands do. Are you a trained classical bass player, or is this an experiment for you as well?
As I mentioned, I started with rockabilly music. Wanted to slap that double bass, then. In order to get that bass I had to go to classical contrabass lessons. My teacher said I was talented but lazy...I hated that music, then. I just wanted to rock and not waste my time there.
When my songs went to a darker and heavier direction, I wanted to retain that upright feel, sound and style. So I commissioned a custom made electric upright that worked better with distorted sounds. It's a very cool looking and self-dependent instrument on stage too.
Fretless bass allows playing glissandos and to create bluesy and weird tones that are not so common. In the early 90's I had an idea to play my double bass with a bow through my distortion pedals, but then came a band called Apocalyptica and I left my idea..
Before I quit playing in 2010 I owned a huge bass rig with tube preamps and stuff but was never really satisfied with my sound. But in 2016 I found my bass sound I have used after that. Just 2 effect pedals, that's all. A chorused, distorted sound with octaver too.
I will update my bass sounds a bit before I start to make new DreamSpy songs later this year.
3. What inspired your choice of instruments for "My Halo Of Obsession"? Are there any artists or bands you regard as inspirations?
I wanted to make rock music without guitars. Or at least give a try. When I layered bass tracks, I achieved the sound I wanted. Piano and synths took care of chords. When I was a kid I wanted to play drums but wasn't allowed - now I have great fun with programming drums.
I don't want to imitate anybody and I never consciously use references. I've been told I always sound like me, no-one else. But of course some of my influences can be heard in a way or another in DreamSpy's music, such as Type O Negative, Tool, Anathema, Depeche Mode, Danzig, Ghost B.C...
4. The album and song title "My Halo Of Obsession" leaves a lot of room for interpretation, especially since the songs and your lyrics aren't created to "explain", but - as I feel it - they take the listener on a journey through a world of "what if"s. A "halo" is usually a symbol for holiness, and "obsessions" usually bring another set of associations. (Although one could argue that it takes a certain level of obsession to commit oneself to a life that would be deemed 'holy' afterwards.) What are your motivations for the holy/obsession contrast, what source of creativity did you tap into to create it?
The meaning of halo here is more like "a circle" to me. But holiness is a logical association too. That obsession is mainly my obsession to be (musically)deep and gloomy and also my endless love for dark, strange and spiritual things. From childhood to these days I have had a rich inner life and my sometimes weird imagination gives me constant ideas to fulfill. I like to be obsessed in that way.
5. Are the lyrics auto-biographical, or did you create a fictional "lyrical I" whose stories and experiences we're hearing on the album?
They are mostly fictional. But the songs "Sidetrack train" and "Complicated" share some lines from my life too. Still the lyrics can be fictional, those worlds must be "real" in some way so I can identify to them and make them alive. Be true. And. I have chosen every word so they all tell something about me.. fictional or not.
6. Other than the Covid/Corona pandemic that has put live music on hold, do you see Dreamspy as a live project, or did you intend to have it as a studio project only?
I just had a studio live video session on August 25th. I will publish that video on DreamSpy's YouTube channel this autumn. It could be cool to perform live on stage somewhere. Someday.
7. Dreamspy is your solo project, but was there a time where you were considering making this a full and permanent band? Is it easy for you to create music without, let's call it "partners in crime" to discuss ideas with?
I have made my own songs since I got my bass 35 years ago. We had great moments in bands I play with other musicians but mostly something was missing. We/I lost that idea too often and feel I had just by playing alone my bass and singing.
I have some people I trust, and when they listen and comment honestly on my songs or mixes, they can be very helpful.
I had or have no plans to play DreamSpy's songs as a full band. This is a solo thing.
8. Do you have a favourite song on the album, and why? Was there a song that you remember special events or incidents while you were in the process of creating it?
"Livin'Dead" is a song that I'm proud of. I managed to create something out from this world. I got goosebumps when I listened it first time couple months after I had recorded the song.
In general I felt myself excited during the recordings: I realised my quite different music arrangement approach may work..
I waited for the moment I could start to mix the songs and finalize that world I had created.
The song's "The Mirror" hiphop-style vocal timing happened by accident when I first recorded a demo of the lyrics with the song. That part was meant to be instrumentaI but I intuitively started to sing around the rhythm and it sounded so cool I kept that.
9. Does the name of your project have a special meaning? Dreamspy is something that could be a super-/anti-hero or an evil villain, or a mystical creature from ancient legends or horror movies ("Beware the Dreamspy, my children!") - how did you come up with it?
DreamSpy is my scifi superego. Fictional and true. And it easily can be all those cool things you mentioned too. Mad Max meets Bladerunner - a lone wolf.
An interview by THE OTHER SIDE (the year 2020)
1. Hail, Anssi! Introduce yourself in depth...
Achtung! I'm a man from Finland. I play electric upright bass, sing and I'm the (only)one behind DreamSpy. And do many other things in my life along with music. I'm patient and impatient at the same time - patient and relentless in the big picture but restless when I get something into my mind - I want it to happen NOW. I'm determined and want to improve things constantly. I think I'm a very sensitive person but most people don't see that. Some may think I'm quite serious and gloomy but there's always a humorous side present - life is a tragicomedy for me. I've been told I'm honest, innocent and foolhardy. I'm not sure about that foolhardy...maybe that I speak straight, no matter what.
I know there are people who fear me and in general people seem to avoid me. I've always been an outsider: it's mostly my choice but not entirely.
Hope that was deep enough.
2. What is the news from DREAMSPY?
I have given interviews, taken part in some radio shows after the album release, and now I've been rehearsing a live set - there will be a studio live video shoot soon.
3. Tell me more about your debut release...
Quite open question..
DreamSpy is my music project. I composed, played, sang, programmed and made the whole production. Every song was born from a short bass riff or bass melody but sometimes the song got totally different direction from the starting point. I didn't make demos: I recorded everything freshly and didn't copy paste things. I wanted to retain human touch and it provided counterbalance to programmed stuff like the drums.
This was the first time I have made songs all by myself.
4. Where and how it was recorded?
I recorded, mixed and mastered the album at home. I liked that freedom to choose the right moment to make and record my music.
5. Tell me more about your lyrics in it? Concept? Who is their writer?
I normally write the lyrics afterwards. I just follow the vibes my music gives me. I think I don't have any strict concept there but DreamSpy's lyrics are basically quite escapistic. I try to transmit and describe feelings - I'm not a storyteller.
The phrase "the dance of the subconscious and the superego in the world of distortions" tells all.
6. DREAMSPY - what is the story behind that name?
I had recorded the album's first song "Bitter Sweet" and it sounded big, spacy and cinematic. I started to think about what might be the name of the project and DreamSpy just came to my mind. It felt right.
7. How do you describe your music style?
It's quite hard for me or other people to describe the style, but: dark rock, atmospheric rock and industrial vibes can be heard. Some bluesy stuff too. Experimental music. Art rock.
8. Is it released by a label or is it self released?
I had a label to release the songs for Spotify and other digital platforms.
I would have done it by myself if possible. Of course the label's mailing lists helped to spread the word but that's all. There are no marketing plans. It goes how it goes, I don't mind too much.
9. Do you have any plans for concerts and tours?
Not at this moment. I have done gigs with my bands in the past but I don't consider myself as a performer - I don't have a strong passion for that. But with this DreamSpy material it would be cool to make some solo gigs. First I'll do a studio live shoot for a YouTube release.
10. You did a few official video clips and lyric videos. How does the audience receive them?
To be honest I haven't heard much comments in respect of the videos so far. But I'm surprised DreamSpy's been played a lot on radio stations and the album's been reviewed in several music web pages with quite good ratings. DreamSpy's music is not mainstream stuff so I didn't expect much attention, particularly because there's no marketing.
11. What about the cover version of "Like a Virgin" of Madonna?
In fact I had recorded that version couple of years ago but decided to publish it now when I get an idea for the video. Nothing to do with DreamSpy's album though. I've been told that I must have a weird imagination to make that kind of a version. That's a compliment.
12. What is your vision upon the underground rock/metal scene? What is the situation in your country?
I think I have always found more interesting stuff from the underground scene than from the mainstream. But I haven't followed music scenes closely for decades so I can't say much about the present time. I focus on my things.
13. Do you know something about Bulgarian scene?
Sorry, I don't.
14. What are your general plans for the future?
I'll start to make new songs during this year. I have plenty of ideas and riffs ready for action. I will experiment with different bass tunings, new sounds and harmonies. I'm not sure yet if I will release them one by one or wait until I have done enough songs for an album release.
15. Did I forget to ask you something?
You forgot to ask about my web sites. Check out: https://www.dreamspy.org, https://www.facebook.com/dreamspyofficial, DreamSpy songs on Spotify and lyric videos on Youtube. Subscribe if you feel so, there's more to come. Thank you.
16. Last words? Your message for the readers of The Other Side...
If you are curious to hear experimental rock music played without guitars and you like melancholy but powerful music, just give DreamSpy's stuff a chance.
1. Please say something about yourself - anything you would like people to know about your biography. (You decide what you want to say here - maybe where you were born, what is your education, hobbies, bands you played in, projects except DreamSpy you've done etc)
Hello! I was borned 9 days after the 1960s, in Finland. 1970. Nowadays I work as a TV post production sound designer, drive my race car on time attack competitions, hit the gym, make videos for DreamSpy, Basstor Ansgarius and my race car YouTube channels. And I play my bass, sing and make songs every now and then.
2. How did you come up with the idea about your solo-project? Do you identify yourself with Mr. DreamSpy?
I think I'm quite introvert person, I've always been self-absorbed and like to do things alone. I started to play and compose songs when I was 15. I played with many musicians for 25 years but - though there have been many good times too - something was missing all the time, musically. Finally I lost my passion, quit the band and sold my bass gear. I didn't play my bass or make songs for 4 years.
Gradually I started to play again. I got an idea of playing bass with programmed midi drum tracks and creating something all by myself. I made 9 bass+drums instrumental songs (you can find them from Bandcamp under Basstor Ansgarius title). I liked that industrial rock vibe I captured and it's a base of DreamSpy too.
I started to gather more bass riffs and finally had almost 100 of them to choose from. I wanted to regenerate that Basstor Ansgarius thing and add some harmonies and vocals too. I picked 15 most interesting riffs that worked with fast made demo drum loops and then started from the first riff. And didn't stop after I had completed 10 songs.
I composed, played, sang, recorded, mixed and mastered the album at my home. So this really is a solo project. Me, myself and I.
Do I identify with DreamSpy? Of course there's a lot of me but in generalized form. I don't always know where those songs and especially lyrics come from - I have also left there a lot of space to construct. I'm always searching for ways to do things differently and so is DreamSpy too.
3. DreamSpy is entirely your project and drum tracks include both drum machine and actual drums. There are also sounds of piano and of course the bass that lures listeners in. So how many instruments do you actually play? If you had to choose only one between singing or playing, what would you do?
In fact all those drum tracks are programmed midi stuff. But sometimes they sound more traditional than a machine. I don't play any other instrument than bass, fluently. So it took some time to get all the keyboard tracks done. But it was great fun. Synth and piano tracks are very important emotional elements in my music - they support vocals and complete the DreamSpy's world.
I think I'm a much more talented singer than I'm as a bassist. I seldom sing but I'm always playing bass - it's the fountain of my creativity. Singing comes along as I start to make songs. By playing and singing simultaneously I can express myself completely.
4. One of the reasons that makes your debut album unique is absence of guitar tracks. Why did you decide to record all 10 songs without an accord played by guitar?
When I played in the band, my bass sound was quite big and offensive but it was often too much when played with guitars. When I started to record layered bass tracks, I found out I can in that way achieve the overall sound I want. I enjoyed the freedom to do whatever I like with my bass. That freedom is more a sound thing than playing a lot of notes. The absence of guitars gave of course plenty of room for synth and piano sounds.
5. Who inspires and influences you? (Musicians, artists, politicians or maybe your family and friends?)
I was ten years old in 1980 when I heard the Stray Cats and a little later some psychobilly bands. No doubt that period of time has influenced me a lot and that's why I started to play double bass too. In the late 80's my music taste slided to darker genres and I was then hit by metal, grunge and progressive rock bands.
When thinking of musicians, Glenn Danzig has inspired me most - he's a very capturing character. In general I seem to get inspired by people who walk their own path. Movies and visual art influence me and my creativity too. For example I love the feel of scifi world as Bladerunner or David Lynch's movies and Twin Peaks.
6. What did participation in "Voice of Finland" give you? How did it feel to work with Michael Monroe?
I went there to get an experience. And got them - in good and bad ways. I also wanted to challenge myself - I had just quit my band and tried to do something completely different...and I had performed as a singer (without bass) just once before VOF. In fact Michael's team wasn't my plan at all - I was there to sing something else than rock songs. There's a long story about what happened then but this is not a forum for that. VOF is much more entertainment and a reality show than a singing competition.
7. How did pandemic influence you and your music? What did you do during quarantine? In your opinion, how can pandemic change the world of music? (Coronavirus already changed education system; offices became online, nearly 100% restaurants started to deliver their dishes if they didn't do it before, but what about music?)
Personally, that isolation wasn't a big deal for me, just normal life. :) Of course I was concerned about what was happening near and all over the world. I'm not a professional musician and I get my money elsewhere but I could hear, read and feel the pain people in the music business were suffering during the lockdown. And still, it's not over yet.
It's very common nowadays that musicians don't necessarily play together but do their tracks separately at home studios. This pandemic situation has also forced people to find new ways to keep things going on. I'm not a big fan of social media live gig streams but I guess they came here to stay in the future too.
8. What are your music plans for this year? For 5 years? (You told me about live shows - please include them into the answer! If you have any plans for particular festivals or collaborations with other musicians, please say about them too)
There are some plans, yes. I will update all of my sounds so I can create some variations here and there. My music goes and is allowed to go where it wants to go. I have some old never published songs I'm gonna remake and there're a lot of new riffs too. Wait and see.
I have a live set ready for action: 6 DreamSpy songs + 6 Basstor Ansgarius industrial rock vibe instrumental songs. There will be a one man studio live shoot soon (I will publish that on DreamSpy's YouTube channel) and of course it would be nice to do some live gigs somewhere with backing tracks. I haven't played my songs live for ten years now.
9. What musicians (Finnish or foreigners) would you like to work with in the future?
I don't have any plans to play with somebody. I'll continue in this way. :) But I hope to collaborate with some visual artists in the future.
10. What is your life credo? (Maybe some philosophy that helps you do things better and you want to share it with others?)
Music is not the only passion in my life so I alternate where my focus lies. That's why I seldom get bored or become too strained. I can plan and make preparations for a long time in the background and wait for the right moment and final inspiration.
Trust yourself, learn from your faults and give it all you got, whatever you're doing. Be and feel yourself free.