Yesterday, OWTK reviewed "Family Photograph" by the Dreyer Family Band. Having become so enamored with the bi-coastal clan's debut collection of family-friendly tunes, I decided to shoot over some questions in an email to the West Coast Dreyers. As luck would have it, the entire family chimed in with responses. As you will soon discover, the Dreyer folks come off as approachable, passionate and friendly in a Q&A as they do on CD.
OWTK: Family Photograph began as a personal musical family scrapbook, of sorts, at what point in the process did it become evident that you needed to share this music with the world?
Dreyer Family Band: We wanted to share this music from the very beginning; with each other and with anyone who would patiently listen to us, because a good project is exciting and contagious. The sharing-it-with-the-world part evolved as the music was made, one song at a time. We just fell it love with it and, you know how that is, you just can’t keep it in. Once this collection was contained within the walls of a mastered CD, we knew we told our story as a family, as parents, and it just felt like we wanted everyone who has ever held a newborn to have this record. Really, the band didn’t create the music, the music inspired us to create the band (OWTK: emphasis added)
OWTK: What music influenced the making of the record? What does the Dreyer Family listen to when not making music?
DFB: I can hear someone else besides us singing every song, in my head. There’s a Cat Stevens in there, a definite Billie Holiday, obviously a Johnny Cash, a Woodie Guthrie, a Mama’s and the Papa’s, a Crosby Stills and Nash, a Neil Young, a Bill Withers, a Sly and the Family Stone, a Sam Cooke … those guys are all in there. Right now I am listening to M.Ward; lately Fleet Foxes, Madeleine Peyroux, and forever Van Morrison. The kids love all of the above including Dan Zanes, Free to be You and Me, the Beatles, show tunes, etc. Right now in our car CD player is a collection of Odds Bodkins story-songs (particularly, "the evergreens" and "three little pigs"). We love him.
OWTK: The most prominent thing/idea that I've taken away from Family Photograph is that, despite being on opposites coasts, there is a fondness for togetherness and shared experiences within the Dreyer Family. What advice could you share with a family struggling to maintain a level of intimacy and togetherness.
DFB: Well…Matt and Craig love the hell out of each other, no matter what. That’s a good start. The fact that Cami and I have found a sister/friendship that is the best I could imagine is an unexpected gift. We really love each other’s kids and feel sad knowing that we will miss developmental milestones when we are apart, so we write family love songs. It keeps the good feelings going. I will also say that we were careful and sensitive with each other, especially while doing this project, to TRY to be the best versions of ourselves if possible. We all knew that a collaborative creation can be tricky so we did our best to stay positive. I guess, for us, the “intimacy and closeness” you mention comes from liking to live this life with these people and noticing the good stuff whenever possible.
OWTK: What is your favorite track on the record? Why?
DFB: (each member of the family answered this one)
Matt- How to Be Happy, "I love it because it is Annie and my way to explain how we have stayed together for 21 years! Plus I got the banjo part right (in honor of Neil Young’s 'For the Turnstiles'). Emmett’s high vocal harmony is pretty outstanding too."
Emmett- Imagination, "Pop sings it for me, and I love classic rock."
Mac- You Get What You Get. "It's hilarious."
Craig- Home, "Mac just kills me and the track has the 3 dimensional feel I'm always looking for in my recordings."
Cami- The I Love You Song "It's the one that started it all," Cutie Baby, "because it marks the time when Finley was a little baby like nothing else - I even call her 'bouncy ball' at times."
Annie- The I Love You Song in a tie with Big Green Tree, "I think both are what its all about!" Silas- Mad (everday for a YEAR!!)
Baby Fee- Home...imagine a litte two year old redhead singing, "home, home, home":)
Nana- (she's not technically on the record but definitely a part of the record...) Totem Party"What is it about Totem Party? Because it says a little something about each and everyone of the family."
OWTK: Are there any plans to take The Dreyer Family Band out on the road? If so, what do you imagine that would look like? (as a suggestion, a tour together as an entire family, if documented would make a wonderful DVD/book)
DFB: You know, we laugh as we think of ourselves as the Steely Dan of family music, strictly studio musicians. In reality we West Coast Dreyers are busy with co-op gardens to tend, YMCA youth basketball practice, school plays and a whole studio full of pottery students who are actual clay addicts and freak out if I take a 10 day vacation. I know the East Coast Dreyers are busy too. Craig DOES play with a number of people and tours and produces other people's records and Cami has a toddler and a busy life behind and in front of a camera. In a perfect world we would travel in a caravan like Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review with Sam Shepard writing the logbook!. And when you mention the DVD tour I envision a trip of a lifetime, and a possible frightening memoir from our future adult kids! What a dream though…
OWTK: At a recent family music conference, there was a overwhelming call for authenticity in kid's music. I personally find Family Photograph to be one of the most genuine and refreshingly lovely albums to ever come across my desk. What adjectives would you use to describe the record? What words or images do you hope to conjure up in listeners as they discover and spend time with "Family Photograph"?
DFB: This record is our children and us and, hopefully, your children and you and everyone. This record to us is LOVE (cheesy as it sounds)...it’s the love in creativity, in togetherness, in nature, in memories. I hope other families feel it, and I definitely hope someone out there sings “Covers” to their babes the way we have to ours. And I hope that if the words aren’t quite exactly right for them, that they write their own songs that fit perfectly. That’s what we did.
OWTK: Musically speaking, what does the future hold for the Dreyer Family?
DFB: We have hoped since the beginning that it would all never end…that we can do it again every year and watch how it all changes as we all grow. We’ll see. If the kids are into it and willing, so are we.
Speaking on behalf of family music lovers…so are we! Here’s to hoping that as we all grow, we'll hear a lot more from the Dreyer Family Band.
Visit CDBaby to sample each track and purchase "Family Photograph".