Swiss metallers Dreamshade recently released their fifth studio album, the rapturously-received A Pale Blue Dot. Taking its name from the Carl Sagan book, it showed the band taking a much wider view of the world to highlight why, ultimately, there is more that unites us than divides us. We got in touch with vocalist Kevin Cali to give us a track-by-track breakdown of each song, of the themes and their experience writing them, in their own words.
"The lyrics are inspired by our fans and all the people who are truly energized by music and live it as a personal and profound experience. People who use music as a reason to go on and live life to the fullest and a refuge to always come back to when something goes wrong "in the world out there", outside of our headphones. From this idea was born "Safe Harbour", we wanted to make listeners understand that within this song / album / band they can always find the refuge they need and whenever they need it."
"While writing the song and the lyrics, we imagined a kind of sound and atmosphere that reminded us of the ocean and marine life. That's why for the chorus I imagined a sailor lost at sea in a storm at night who guided by the stars manages to find a port where to dock and finally find peace."
"Sonically, we wanted a very powerful song we could start our live shows with and instantly engage with the audience. This song also represents our mindset in Heavy Music: We chose to go against the tide as many other bands tune lower and lower, we decided to go higher (the song is in E!). We think that putting this one at the beginning of the records sets the record straight right from the start and shows our attitude as songwriters and as a band."
"I remember that when I started writing some parts for the 'Lightbringers' lyrics I happened to see one of those billboards on the street that sensitized people to take care of our planet because future generations would be affected by our choices. I tried to put myself in the shoes of a kid who sees all this disrespect and indifference and is tired of not being taken into consideration. What better way to do that than through such an energetic and powerful song? It’s hopeful, melancholic and has reflective sides. Perfect match!"
"This song is also the continuation of our DS trademark which we try to keep on every album since our very first EP. Basically every song number #2 on all our records start with a skank beat. Go see for yourselves!"
"'Question Everything' lyrics were inspired by the present situation of the music industry: There are a lot of good artists out there but only some of them will eventually make it and this is not only up to them. Sometimes it's somebody else who has the power to turn a regular artist into a successful one. Money is often at the very core of it. You can find yourself ahead of the curve but be completely forgotten soon after. We really believe that music speaks for itself.
"To those who listen it doesn't really matter if a project is backed by an incredible budget or not. Our aim was to describe all this with a funny and ironic scenario and I remember that on the video set we had a lot of fun!"
"With this one we went for a more direct approach which you can hear right away. We wanted the message to arrive immediately and without too many frills. We needed a more “In-Your-Face” song that has sustained rhythms and here is "Step Back". The song is about people who take your presence for granted. It’s not meant to be an attack to anyone in particular but rather a personal reflection. We always like to raise the issue and in this case the question was: Where do you want to spend your energy? Is it worth maintaining one-way relationships where only one of the two individuals gives the best to make everything work?"
"Certainly values, quality and love are very important to us. Give the best of you to people who really love you instead of spending time with the ones who suck your energy."
Stone Cold Digital
"This is a very unusual song for our repertoire. We never wrote anything similar before and we are really excited to share it with our audience. The song is about the downsides of technology & social media: our aim was to highlight the problems our modern life can have. We wanted something that married well with Rose Villain’s voice and we had to find the right parts to make her shine. That's why in this song we focused more on a versatile sound, dynamic and with atmospheric parts that are out of the ordinary for us. The song was born from the need to communicate our point of view to our listeners on this issue and make them aware that technology is a powerful tool: it can facilitate but also harm us if not used correctly. It’s a tool that can bring people closer, it can help keep us in contact at a distance but it also has dark sides that if not taken into consideration can distance us."
"'Impulse' if I remember correctly was the first song we wrote for the album. Since we came from the cumbersome and long experience that saw us busy with "Vibrant". We wanted to go back to writing spontaneously and free from all limits. From the beginning we all agreed that the new album needed to be written in complete freedom. That's why we decided to dedicate a song to this theme which is also our return to the scene. We needed to come back with something genuine and that reflected our current mindset, energy and mood: Free mind!"
"This song is almost an instrumental electro ambient track that we love. There is a cool spoken message on it which we hope will have our audience reflect about or place in the Universe. We wanted a moment of food for thoughts in the middle of the album to help the listener process all of the information he/she gathered up to that point of the record. There’s a lot to think about and we want it to be an experience. A key moment in my opinion. A reflection on both the importance and the futility of life as we know it. A distant look at humanity and our planet as a whole."
"Everything that is important to us on Earth is so insignificant out there in the Universe. This point was necessary and we thought it could create a moment to understand what the listener heard up to this point and start again for the second part of the album."
"The idea of the song came out while we were touring China last year. We've been there 3 times before and wanted to create a Rock'n'Roll-ish track about life on tour: The travels, the shows, the relationship with our fans. The song is about that nostalgic moment we live when the tour is over and it's time to go back home. We always feel a hole in our chest on our way back, the type of feeling you get when you leave someone you love. We sit on the plane and think about all the people we've met, with the awareness that what we do is not only important to us but involves an ever wider circle of people. Since part of our life is on the road we tried to capture that very essence in a poetic way to help the listener live through our experience. Me and the boys come from a very small town in southern Switzerland and traveling the World gives us experiences that we could hardly live otherwise."
"I love the oriental vibe of this song. It takes me right to another place with its exotic sounds and Arabic scales. Fella (Fernando 'Fella' Di Cicco, guitars) inspired by Moroccan/Algerian tribe music for this one, he really likes to learn from other cultures. In 'Elephant' we put ourselves in the shoes of the "Hikikomori". New phenomenon of hermits who voluntarily hide in the bedroom isolating themselves and without having contact with the outside world and outside society. Some of these remain indoors for up to 20-30 years in a row. A modern social unease that was born in Japan in the 80s and today is more and more widespread all over the world. Very sad, but it represents a very present social unease in today's world: The fear of judgment!"
"An explosive charge of Dreamshade-style melodies and more punk rhythms accompany this song. This is also one of the first written for the new record. In the beginning it was a little different, the verses were completely different and we had to work on them for a moment before we were completely satisfied. The chorus was already there and we immediately understood that it had the right intention for what we wanted to communicate."
"'Somewhere Else' is a kind of Self-Reflection. Discussion with one's Younger-Self to motivate us to fight and never let ourselves be discouraged by difficulties. There will always be someone or something that will try to knock us down but we must be ready to fight and face every challenge with a positive spirit."
On My Own
"Let's not be subdued by some people's negativity. Sometimes it happens to relate to people who are so persuasive almost to the point of changing ourselves. Personally it happened to me and for a moment I thought I was someone I wasn't. I got lost and didn't know who I was anymore. That's why 'On My Own' was born. A way to communicate to the world that the beauty of any person lies in our own differences and defects."
A Place We Called Home
"In this song we tried to imagine the point of view of a child refugee. What a sudden life change entails. A change that doesn’t come from your own choice but determined and forced by war. Fella chose to use the raps to better serve the storytelling purpose and allow the listener to envision what’s going on in the various scenes. I really love the vibe on this song!"
Nothing But The Truth
"This is a song about climate change. We’re no activists or experts but absolutely felt like we needed to express something about this topic. There’s only one planet Earth and we should preserve our only home in the Universe. There’s also a very special collaboration on this song."
"We've been listening to Darkest Hour since we were kids. They were one of the bands that inspired our sound back in the day and it is a collaboration that we have always wanted and we’ve finally managed to achieve. Fella has been collaborating and playing with Darkest Hour on European Tours since 2018 and it’s mainly thanks to him that we were able to make contact with John who immediately made himself available for this collab. The fun part of the collaboration was when we had to record John. Darkest Hour was on tour in Switzerland, our home country, and we took advantage of the situation to record his vocals. He proved to be very helpful, a man with an exquisite soul, a very open person with whom we immediately felt at ease. There’s always something to learn from artists like him who have been traveling the world for years taking their music beyond all limits. He has given us an incredible passion for what he does and the love he has for music. Great experience!"
“'Save This' is inspired by the history of the band, the relationships between members and with the community of fans. We wanted to make the memories that have been part of our history all these years feel alive. There have certainly been ups and downs, but in the end we have always had the drive and the desire to look beyond and give ourselves and others proof of our solidity and strength. That's why we wanted to create something special that would give our listeners, friends and family the chance to be part of a song with us. We managed to have 517 Dreamshade fans from 70 different countries singing gang vocals on this track. They could send their takes as voice messages through our band's WhatsApp. Such a unique experience and we’re so happy with the result! We are always looking for new ways to connect with our fanbase. Oh, and they all made it to the record btw. The idea of different styles of voices allowed us to have more frequencies that together sound like a huge stadium choir. The work to put 500 and more voices together was long but necessary to make them sound good together. It took us hours but in the end we managed to find a good balance between them, my voice and the music."