Dream pop bands aren’t known for their sense of humor. After all, dream pop prioritizes music over lyrics; from Mazzy Star to Cocteau Twins, dream pop lyrics range from cryptic to incomprehensible. The genre also values sincerity and romanticism, which doesn’t leave much room for irony. But Sleepy Gonzales, the Canadian band behind “Sally on the Avenue”, are irreverent, snarky, and fun; on their website, they describe themselves as “four sad goofballs”, as well as “a bunch of Bright Eyes/Cherry Glazerr wannabes”. As you’ll see in the interview below, this band bursts with personality; even if you disagree with their views on shoegaze, you’ll find yourself drawn in.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t bring the dream pop goods. “Sally on the Avenue” is rich with sonic texture, with shimmery guitars and swirling, swooning production that’s sure to remind you of your 4AD favorites. Speedy Gonzales lists Beach House as a major influence, but “Sally on the Avenue” is more reminiscent of 90s dream pop groups like Slowdive, with a touch of shoegaze in the mix as well (sorry, guys! It’s a compliment!). But exactly who the band sounds like doesn’t matter; when their melodies are as lush and lovely as these, all you can do is sit back and let it envelop you like a sweet pink mist.
What is the origin of the lyrics for “Sally on the Avenue”?
Beni [the drummer] is teaching our seven year old neighbor Katie how to sing and play guitar. She actually wrote most of it. That’s why the whole song is two of the easiest chords you can learn. We traded her the rights to the song for a pack of Jolly Ranchers.
Your bio on your website mentions that you vary your sound, from dream pop to punk to everything in between. How do you keep your artistic voice consistent from genre to genre?
We’ve learned that if you approach songwriting with honesty, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re trying to write stoner metal or a country song. There will inevitably be a reflection of yourself in whatever you create. The aesthetic differences will hopefully make our discography diverse, but underneath that it’s just the same four people sharing their love of all kinds of music. Are we influenced by other artists? Of course. But we’re not interested in sounding like anybody other than ourselves, so I think the consistency just comes without us having to even really think about it.
“Sally on the Avenue” clearly takes inspiration from the great dream pop and shoegaze bands of the past. What’s an obscure artist or album in one of those genres you’d like to recommend?
I don’t know, I have yet to find a dream pop band I like better than Beach House, to be honest. They kinda fulfill my dream pop needs, so my knowledge of the genre isn’t very expansive. But here’s a lost of dreamy songs I can swear by:
- Plastic Love – Divino Niño
- Necronomnomnomicon — Cloud District
- Nina — Crumb
- Change Your Mind — Castlebeat
- Dreams Tonite — Alvvays
- Licking An Orchid — Yves Tumor
- Home — Azure Ray
- Glass — Daughter
- You Are The Coffin— Flatsound
- Grouper — I’m Clean Now
- symbol — Adrianne Lenker
As for shoegaze, I enjoy shoegaze live or almost not at all. Shoegaze is mostly just maxed out delay pedals covering up dudes who can’t sing.
Is there anything you’d like to experiment with in the future?
Polyamory. Magic mushrooms. Jazz. Ceramics. Lo-fi hip hop beats to study/relax to. Moving out of my parent’s house. Fashion design. Ketamine. Building an animal sanctuary. Sound design for video games. Stuff like that.
How has the pandemic changed your plans going forward?
We’re all planning on moving into a house together. Since there will be no more live shows, we are going to market ourselves as a carefully curated remote sonic experience. Like, pay us a fee, and we will play music just for you, from our band house into your headphones, wherever you are in the world. As soon as we figure out how to do that in real time, it will be as intimate as lovemaking. Maybe even more so. This started off as a joke answer but I’m seriously going to look into making this a thing.
What do you aspire to?
We just want Anthony Fantano to review our music one day and completely trash it. Or if he likes it that’s cool too. But if he didn’t, we would be just as happy. Melon, if you’re reading this, we’re coming for you.