Second Reality: An Interview with Eenian Dreams

Founded in Finland in 2021, Eenian Dreams is an electronic music duo consisting of Pauliina and TC Newman. Of course, “electronic music” is a broad category, and the duo’s offerings defy facile comparisons. To date, they have released four singles that drift from the dreamy chillout of “Summerland” to the cinematic power-pop of “I Dreamed of You” and the moody, gloomy electropop of “Someone Like You.” Their latest single, “Dream Producer” arrived on May 1 and, as the title suggests, explores the mysterious nature of dreams.

I’m curious about your name. Of course, “Dreams” I understand, but what does “Eenian” signify? Where did the idea come from?

While thinking about a name for the project, we came up with the idea of Eenia as a fictitious reality within your mind where you can travel by imagining a world full of music and colours. Where your senses are filled with smooth beautiful sounds, shapes that follow nature’s creative perfection, and movements so soft and tender it captures your scenery. The Eenian reality can be explored and extended, and what you come across depends on your own direction and angle. Eenia is a word that sounds beautiful in both Finnish and English, and it captures the flow of our music, thus it is a good fit as part of the project name.

Shortly, all the other band names were taken. *laughter*

Ha! I know that feeling. Clearly dreams are central to your project and feature prominently in your lyrics. What is the attraction to dreams both in terms of your general interest in them and also as a theme for musical exploration? More plainly, why do you write about dreams?

This is an incredibly broad question touching one of the fundamentals of being a human. And that is what makes the subject of dreams all the more interesting to explore. For our species, one of the big mysteries has for ages been where dreams come from. Besides this exciting philosophical starting point, another important aspect of dreams is what we make of them. Dreams can be thought of as a second reality, not necessarily any more unimportant or unreal than the world we see when we are awake. Dreams are a shoreless ocean of meanings where inspiration can be drawn from. Sometimes the ocean is glittering and calm, sometimes it unleashes its dark rage. Maybe this explains our dreamlike sound, whether light or gloomy.

Specifically, your latest song is titled “Dream Producer.” How did that one come about?

The very first idea of the lyrics came from Pauliina’s daughter, who was wondering about the source of her unusual dreams and came up with the concept of a dream producing company. Pauliina wrote it down, and with time the idea started living its own life. The final lyrics describe real dreams combined with the original idea of a dream producer.

Beyond lyrics, your music also has a dreamlike quality with incredibly lush ambient atmospherics. What draws you to electronic music?

For T. C., electronic music has been the perfect means for channeling his emotions. There are several reasons for this. In electronic music, you can do pretty much anything. You can experiment with sounds, combine the unexpected. Electronic music has endless and massive potential for expressing oneself. That’s why T. C. has written music belonging to many different subgenres of electronic music, from chillout and epic cinematic pieces to harsh electroindustrial tracks. Another reason comes from T. C. ‘s personal history as a music consumer. His great awakening was Soli Deo Gloria, an album by Norwegian futurepop act Apoptygma Berzerk that was released in 1993. After hearing the two opening tracks of the album, it was crystal clear: electronic music was just what he wanted to start making. Even if from scratch.

Along similar lines, I know that Pauliina started as a soprano in a local choir, but it’s also interesting that there’s a good amount of pitch-correction in your music, which gives the vocals a robotic feel. What’s behind that decision?

Maybe the love for indie electronic music has had some impact on this decision. But more importantly, the atmosphere of the songs we’ve released so far has been perfectly amplified by a controlled vocals approach. It’s about how music and vocals talk to each other. Electronic touch on vocals has emphasized the dreamlike qualities of these songs. The otherworldly. More natural vocals are not at all excluded, and as a matter of fact, there will be more rough edges in the vocals of our next song.

Like many independent musicians, you record in a home studio. What kind of equipment do you use, and what is your recording process?

Our setup for making music is a very simple one. We do everything with just a microphone, a laptop and a MIDI keyboard. There are several advantages in this approach. First of all, it’s very cost-effective if you want to think about it that way. In addition, you can easily stuff the setup in your backpack and continue editing in a library or a café. Fun fact is that in our case the word “studio” is actually a bit misleading, unless it’s used to denote any space in a building where recording and producing is done. Our vocals are recorded in a walk-in clothes closet and the kitchen table provides a good place for composing. It is incredibly fast and straightforward to work with a laptop loaded with virtual instruments, whose quality and variety is astonishing nowadays. No cables, no hassle. Pauliina records vocals in her house and then sends them over to T. C. for mixing. Also mastering is done in the kitchen “studio,” so our songs are written, recorded, and produced throughout at home.

In addition to your four singles, you’ve also released a version of the traditional Ukrainian song “Krinitsa”; in a Finnish translation titled “Hiljainen Tienoo” to support the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. What drew you to that song in particular? How did you adapt a traditional song to the more futuristic style of Eenian Dreams?

It’s a song that Pauliina has performed in a church before with another composition, and it started resonating strongly after the horrific humanitarian crisis in Ukraine took place. The lyrics in Finnish describe a dark and gloomy landscape under stars, and the character’s longing back home. Since we wanted to show our support to Ukrainian people quite fast after the crisis commenced, “Hiljainen Tienoo” was a good match to do that. Adaptation was fairly easy, since the melody is ethereal as it is, and we kept it simple with just piano chords and pads in the background.

Do you have plans to play live? If so, how do you envision translating Eenian Dreams to the stage?

Actually, we have some plans that hopefully will be realized during the second half of this year. We consider it as the start of our live performances. We still have to give performing our songs live some thought, but it is already clear vocals will sound less robotic on stage. Our songs are so layered that if we wanted to play every instrument live, it would require at least ten people. On the other hand we don’t want to compromise our signature sound, so a majority of the music will be played from the computer. One of the main things is that the listener is moved by the atmosphere of our music instead of how it is played, whether experienced from a streaming service or in front of the stage.

Any other plans for the future?

Oh yes, we’re just getting started! *laughter* We have a lot of material just waiting to be refined into releasable songs. The only limiting factor at the moment is time. As hobbyist indie musicians, our time for making music is unfortunately quite limited. But we’re in no hurry. If some label would become interested in our music we would have to give it serious consideration, but for the time being we’re pleased at where we are. What comes to our sound, it’s difficult to say anything certain about the future. Also, in this respect we’ll continue walking on our own path, without knowing where it will take us. And I guess that’s what makes this journey most fun to do in the first place.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me!

Thanks, it’s been a pleasure!

Photo credit: Päivi Kankare / Imagiaa Oy

Field Report

Cover1Longtime readers of my blog may recall that I started recording electronic music with Android Invasion back in 2012. Recently, several events transpired that led me to return to that on-again-off-again project.

For one thing, I read a lot of books about filmmakers over the summer, and I started thinking about how I wanted to record music that had a cinematic feeling to it. In particular, reading about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey led me to watch the film again, and some of the music on the soundtrack had a haunting feel that I liked. I also wanted to something esoteric in the vein of one of my longtime favorite directors, David Lynch.

Coincidentally, about midway through summer, I saw that a friend of mine from high school named Kevin Quinn was on Facebook, so I friended him and found out that he’s an amazing visual artist  now. His works focus largely on architecture, playing with color, light, and repetition in a style that’s reminiscent of Andy Warhol.  I thought his work was really cool and original, and it made me think about how much I like doing cool and original stuff with music.

I love writing and recording more traditional three-minute rock and pop songs, but I also want to do something that pushes boundaries a bit and is a little more “far out.” That’s why I decided to revive Android Invasion.

The music on the album is ambient — definitely in line with the kind of music Brian Eno pioneered on his Music for Airports album and others like it. It’s also fairly minimalist and hypnotic. You can certainly listen to it closely and pay attention to subtle shifts in tone and timbre, but it’s also extremely repetitive, so you can put it on in the background and not think about it at all. It’s great for meditation, for relaxing, and for lulling yourself to sleep. In fact, for some of the songs, my goal was to make it sound like you’re listening to a dream.

I also recommend Field Report to all of my friends who are teachers. You can listen to the tracks while you’re grading. They won’t distract you, and they might help to keep your blood pressure down!

In any case, I hope you enjoy it!