Meet The Dream Factory: a music collective & label founded between Paris and Montreal
Written by Cindy Voitus & Laís Fratta
June 21st is officially known as the World Music Day in Paris, originally called Fête de la Musique. To celebrate the day of the year with the longest daylight hours we headed to the buzzing streets of the French capital to meet up with The Dream Factory (TDF), a music collective and label founded between Paris and Montreal. Lowel and Evan Hays are the creative minds behind the collectif who invited S Y L A, from the Montreal-based techno collective OCTOV, to fly in and take the stage.
As Lowel is diving into the Parisian music scene Evan Hays keeps exploring Montreal nightlife. Their events are meticulously crafted so people can escape reality. With the help of their crew, a pilgrimage of melody, scenery, and escapism unfolds.
The 4th anniversary of TDF came shortly after World Music Day. To celebrate this occasion we arranged a meeting with Lowel on the shores of the Seine in the heart of a sunny Parisian Saturday afternoon, as Evan Hays was on the phone all the way from Montreal to indulge us with a delicious chat about The Dream Factory.
If you dive deep into your memories and think about TDF’s first nights in Paris versus Montreal, what were they like?
Evan Hays & Lowel [Co-founders of The Dream Factory]: Shortly after our first public gigs back in June of 2014 we wanted to gather our DJ and producer friends under the same banner to organize our events with more freedom and according to our own vision. Deciding the location, organizing the lineup, bringing in new concepts… And under the name The Dream Factory, our newly created collective, we had the opportunity to be in charge of most nights in this underground basement hidden away in the middle of Paris. We did that for the summer that followed and got hands on with a range of tasks, from producing to managing events. Afterwards we were able to have access to places that are bigger and better known.
Lowel: During the second half of 2015, I left Paris for Montreal to stay a year and there I met Wa5p, who generously put me in contact with the music collective Awsum Kulture. They invited me to play at Nomad Live and then do a residency for the NO BORDER event series for several months as The Dream Factory. Afterward, I also performed at the PLAY Montreal.
Evan Hays: The Dream Factory came to life with people we bond and share music with while getting together in various places. Lowel was living in Montreal, exporting TDF bit by bit, and I kept organizing events in Paris. Once every month, there would be a TDF night. Then Lowel flew back to France and I moved across the Atlantic in September 2017. Now I’m living in Montreal and Lowel in Paris, and we aim to keep going forward like that.
Since you’ve been navigating through both Paris and Montreal electronic music scenes what has your experience been like? Tell us something relevant about each one of the cities.
Evan Hays & Lowel: The Parisian electronic music scene is extremely rich. Lot’s of things are happening! Yet, what we’ve seen in Montreal that we don’t really see here is the strong support for local artists. In Paris we get a little bit confused and lost, it’s difficult to have a sense of belonging as people usually go to an event to see a headliner or trendy artists but don’t always endorse the local music scene. And also in Paris, this is quite compartmentalized: there is a group of people who will go to the warehouses, and another group that doesn’t, but they don’t mix and mingle enough.
In Montreal, people are more caring. There is a good-natured essence, it’s friendly and everyone loves sharing. That’s what we’re looking to pass on to Paris.
More and more, we are witnessing QC-based music collectives becoming bridges between Europe and Montreal, like OCTOV for example.
But if I was looking for some similarities between the Parisian electronic music scene and the Montreal one I would say there is a cohesion in the Techno clubs, in the House venues… that we don’t always find elsewhere. Even if you don’t know the person standing next to you, the fact that you both belong to the same music sphere will instantly connect you together.
How do you go from waking up one day to deciding you will give birth to this music collective and make it come true?
Evan Hays & Lowel: As a result of booking artists for our first gigs we decided really quick to do things differently, rethinking the lineup we would come up with by making it more cohesive, making our events more immersive, and most importantly paying respect to the artists, partners, suppliers, and particularly to our audience without whom none of this would’ve lasted. So we have developed links with a lot of good people working mostly on feeling. It’s all based on a great affinity, and little by little we gradually met with the right people and received support from our contributors and followers: that’s how the machine was launched!
Tell us a bit more about the full meaning behind the name “The Dream Factory”. Who came up with it?
Evan Hays: The name “The Dream Factory” comes from my childhood, it means “dream”, a “dream manufacture”. I remember a while ago when I logged into Facebook and I was asked to update my occupation status. At the time I had indicated that I’m a dream creator at The Dream Factory.
Through The Dream Factory events organized by us, we aim to carry people away so they escape from their daily routine, to make them dream. That’s really what we are looking for. All our music collective crew could resonate with this evocative name so we all decided to keep it.
Lowel: The music genre we love and create is made to be dreamt away. The bass, the kick, the repetitive process… all of this is a mold and it generates a kind of spellbinding effect. And the name The Dream Factory goes well with all that.
If you had to pick 3 tracks to represent who you are as a music collective what would they be?
“Lowel – Polarity”: Released by our label TDF Records, this track draws inspiration from Acid music, gradually builds power, carried by a deep and introspective melody. A progressive and mental Techno very close to our hearts.
“Evan Hays – End Time”: Also released by TDF, this track has a more organic and analog side to it. Our techno is designed to be hypnotic and “End Time” conveys a constant tension with an evolution that is quite subtle.
“Paul Woolford – MDMA”: Last but not least, this track by Paul Woolford highlights some of our housy influences with incisive rhythm and a heavy piano riff that deeply moves us. We feel the Old-school inspiration of Paul Woolford, but also that groove that gets under our skin.
In your wildest dreams, what would you love to achieve on the future of TDF in Paris and Montreal?
Evan Hays & Lowel: We wish to keep creating and playing music without any constraints and proposing unique events with detailed attention to the sound quality. We would like to be financially independent with our upcoming audiovisual post-production agency, to keep sharing the music we love, expanding abroad and constantly deepening our knowledge of sound and visual.
Our long-term goal is to deliver an immersive experience so people can be driven to another universe, exploring and infusing themselves with our events and musical atmosphere.
Ideally, we would love to expose people to high-end audio venues (like Stereo in Montreal and Rex Club in Paris) so they experience great sound altogether. Visually, on a long-term, we’d love to have mapping, holograms and 3D projections on a regular basis in our events.
To sum it up: it’s all about the love and passion for music. What does it truly mean to you personally?
Lowel: Music means life to me. Everything around us has its unique sonority: the man eating his sandwich next to me, the noise emerging from the streets. Music is about creating a sound that creates pleasure in the scientific meaning of the word, it’s a release of dopamine. It’s also about feeling an emotion, immersing oneself into another dimension and decoding these emotions into sounds.
Evan Hays: Music is art, it’s also a philosophy, a way of thinking. We find things in music that are transposable to other fields.
Through time music evolves in cycles and gets recycled, things come and go, then come back again. The same goes for life.
Since I was 7 years old, I’ve been into music, it gives me chills. It has always been a way of sharing, soothing oneself, and a motivational source. This contact we get with people through the sound journey is really incredible. Music definitely conveys emotions and is a storyteller!
Visit the website of The Dream Factory: tdfrecords.com
Co-founded by Evan Hays (evanhays.com) and Lowel (facebook.com/loweldj)