To celebrate the release of Dreamwell's second album, vocalist KZ Staska talks Rock Sound through how tarot inspired the band’s latest chapter.
“‘In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside You’, our second full length album, is a semi-conceptual album told through three thematic chapters which are grouped by mood, emotion, and symbolism. These chapters are defined by tarot suits and their related astrological element. In my real life, in my bleakest moments I have turned to both prayer and tarot/astrology, things I don’t necessarily believe in but am willing to try when I feel like I need all the help I can get.
The first chapter – the first four songs – follows the Tarot Suit / Element of Wands / Fire. The wands represent drive, passion, determination, strength of will, but they can also represent impulsivity and lack of direction. Similarly, the element of fire represents intense passion and drive, which can be both good and bad. This chapter features the album’s angriest songs, and a lot of language surrounding the ideas of burning, melting, and a desire for intense and drastic change.
Lyrically, our second track ‘Studying the Greats in Self-Immolation’ links our big introduction into the next two songs, saturated with spiritual and mystical imagery. The main protagonist of the album narrative turns to both God and astrology, trying to use the stars to make sense of the world.”
“Our second chapter is based on Pentacles / Earth. Pentacles and the element of Earth are more grounded in reality, relating to the physical world around us and how we create and shape our surroundings. Reflecting this, these songs are the most straight forward, focusing less on metaphors and symbolism and being more direct and immediately personal. This chapter shows the narrator character moving past the paranoia of his current state, moving beyond trying desperately to find solutions, and instead analyzing his relationships with the people and the world around him and trying to find the cause of his issues within them.
Cups / Water tend to be representative of emotional thinking and the interior world. It is similar to fire in this way but is typically more introspective. In this chapter, the final four songs focus more on personal issues and how my own behavior and paranoia affects my life. Our protagonist realises that, in the end, it his response to the situations around him that creates the violent and destructive cycle of failure that he finds himself caught in. For example, ‘Body Fountain’ is the narrator character’s first true realization that all his problems are internal. More personally, it’s about these horrible anxiety spirals that I experience where I invent all these different lines of delusional thinking that don’t have much of anything to do with one another, but the longer I think about them the more they start to weave together and create this full blown massive paranoid false reality. I’ve jokingly referred to them as “brain snakes” that nest together and bite each other, so that’s how I framed the song.”
“The album closer, ‘Rue de Noms (Could Have Been Better, Should Have Been More)’ is about realising that any time you find yourself in a perpetual cycle, you eventually have to admit that the problem is you. It’s about the horror of realizing your only hope is to do the challenging work of changing yourself as a person. Dedicating yourself to being hyper aware of your actions and behavior and having to be willing to call yourself out, or truly listen to others when they call you out. There’s no real solution, no real hope offered at the end of the album because the work hasn’t been done yet. I think you have to be uncomfortable and horrified a little bit if you ever want to change. Offering a peaceful resolution to the story here wouldn’t have been fair to what I was trying to say.”
Dreamwell’s ‘In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside You’ is out now via Prosthetic Records.