Dreamlyfe: Midwest Transplant Making Imagnative, Earphone EDM

Categories: Locals Only

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Danny Tayenaka
Southern California is full of transplants seeking reinvention--particularly musicians. When a calm, low-key DJ/producer named Dreamlyfe came to us from Michigan, his goal was to push the limits of complex earphone EDM, making him right at home in OC's burgeoning underground beat scene. He hits air drums and taps an imaginary midi controller while recounting his musical background--his fascination with sound is obvious. The 24-year-old's eyes light up whenever he mentions playing live, and it's apparent he has no regrets about leaving his hometown to head west and test his limits.

After spending his childhood behind a drum kit, Justin Olsen applied his affinity for percussion into what he considered a larger concept. "Electronic music is very percussive and syncopated," he says. "It had a rhythm that just drew me in. I was in bands for a while, but it was difficult to get everyone together under a common idea. When I started producing music on my own, I felt like I could put all my ideas into one place. It really opened up what I could do."

Dreamlyfe recently teamed up with collaborator ST4RFOX (née Kevin Bernard) to create the EP Galaktik, due out in mid-February. Bernard's background in classical and orchestral sounds coupled with Olsen's vision of dirty grooves gives the EP the potential to offer a fresh sound--no easy feat given EDM's endless catalog of remixes and influences.

Over the past four years, Olsen has kept his head down and his ears open, but he recently earned gigs on lineups with Borgore and Excision and most notably nabbed a slot at last year's Lightning In a Bottle festival.

Now in Huntington Beach, his electro hinges on bass lines, hip-hop and funk. The midtempo sound gives Olsen's tracks room to breathe. Like many transplants who spontaneously head west, Olsen was heavy on aspirations and light on funds.

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