Ever since the gifted fellows of Neon Dreams met back in their high school days, they have been on a mission to ‘bridge the worlds of pop and electronic dance music’.
So far, they’ve made a significant amount of progress, with two Top 40 Billboard singles, over 40 TV placements on shows ranging from Keeping Up With The Kardashians to Silicon Valley, and beating out dozens of Canada’s top emerging acts to win the 2016 Juno Awards Masterclass competition.
The guys play Cowboys on Nov. 10th.
“Performing for me just creates such an energy and an interaction with people who are experiencing your music,” explained DJ/vocalist Corey LeRue. “To create it and then to be able to perform it in a way that really gets people excited, and seeing those reactions.” And hearing folks relate how the music has affected them.
“That’s the stuff that’s really cool.”
Currently, the guys are in Toronto for Juno Master Classes – the guys were selected by a super jury of Juno alumni, and during their stint in TO they are landing support from Canada’s premier artist development program to help them take their careers to the next level and get ‘Juno ready’ before heading to the 2017 Juno Awards in Ottawa.
“They made this true artist development program, which they call Master Class,” he said. “This is the second year it’s been running. What happens is that applicants from across the country apply, then they are broken down to a top 10.”
From there, it was down to choosing the top three – of which Neon Dreams was one.
“It’s been amazing. It’s pretty much a full week of development on the creative side and the business side. You work with industry leaders, professionals and get the inside scoop on the business, how to grow your business and how to get better,” he explained. “It’s an all around development class, and the goal is to take these acts and make them Juno-ready. So you are accelerating yourself and accelerating your business to get to that next level.
“The inspiration – and the information that we have also taken in this week – has been phenomenal.”
Rounding out the band are lead vocalist Frank Kadillac, guitarist Matt Gats and drummer Adrian Morris.
The four hail from Halifax and as they lay down plans for a full-length CD release at some point in 2017, these days they are riding high on the success of their tremendous seven-song EP To You, led by the fabulous single Marching Bands featuring Toronto hip-hop legend Kardinal Offishall.
Other standouts include Best of Your Heart, the reggae-tinged charms of Find a Way and the steady and enticing clip of If I Say. To You unveils yet another kind of sonic stamp from this extraordinary band – progressive pop with that starkly unique Neon Dreams twist.
Wrapping up the project is the relatively slowed-down, thoughtfully-rendered Wallpaper.
As for Marching Bands, the track has racked up over two million Spotify streams and counting. “It was released in May, and it’s really starting to gain traction right now,” he said, adding they want to give the spectrum of songs on the project to be featured as single cuts in and of themselves.
As to the early days, the guys’ history stretches back, as mentioned, to high school.
“I met Adrian in band class,” he recalls. “He was playing percussion and I was playing trumpet.
“He later joined a rock band with the other two guys – Frank and Matt – who also went to school together in another high school. We all eventually connected and found we were making hip-hop and dance music, and all of a sudden we started creating a project. And Neon Dreams was eventually created three years ago.
“Our approach to music is also a lot different – we are very ‘single’ focused. Our focus is on making the best song, and having a song that can stand on its own and be able to shine,” he explained. “That’s kind of our mentality, is that singles focus.”
Beats the old days of CDs which, aside from the gems, always had those predictable filler cuts.
“That just makes no sense – it’s the worst thing,” he said with a laugh. “It’s like, why even put it out?”
Meanwhile, things shifted into high gear at the start of 2015 when they caught the ear of Waka Flocka Flame, who signed the band to his management imprint 36BRICKHOUSE. Soon after, they released their single Love Experts followed by their debut disc The Last Of Us.
Neon Dreams then focused on developing their explosive, festival-ready live show. And that commitment to excellence has certainly paid off – last year, the Halifax alt-weekly The Coast dubbed the band Best Electronic Artist and Band Most Likely To Make It Big.
Further accolades came in the form of East Coast Music Award and Nova Scotia Music Award nominations, as well as inclusion on CBC Music’s list of 25 Musicians Under 25 You Need To Know.
“It’s all reassurance that what you’re doing is the right thing,” said LeRue. “It gives you confidence and it really humbles you, and it makes you really want to progress forward and grow.”