Talkhouse Weekend Playlist: An Introduction to Aotearoa Dream Pop

French for Rabbits take us on a sonic tour through New Zealand's dream pop gems.

Meet the band French for Rabbits, the New Zealand-based dream pop outfit fronted by songwriter, producer, and pianist Brooke Singer. The group’s new record, The Overflow, is out today. Be sure and check out the single “Ouija Board” for a taste of their ethereal sound. For this weekend playlist, we asked Brooke for a sonic journey into the dream pop genre. Check it out.
—Keenan Kush, Talkhouse Director of Operations

I come from a beautiful place called Aotearoa — translated from Maori it means “the land of the long white cloud” (“ao” translates to cloud, dawn, daytime, or world). With a name like this, it is not so surprising that we have a habit of creating ethereal and spacious dream pop.

I’ve always felt at home in the intersection between lyrics, storytelling, and atmosphere in music. I think my love of ethereal spaces came about as a teenager when I was introduced to The Cure’s Disintegration album, and the work of Mazzy Star, The Innocence Mission and my all-time favorites Beach House (whose records I would take to a desert island).

My home is perched on top of a Wellington hillside next to a patch of forest – today the sun is beaming in but often we’re immersed in clouds here. A fitting location to write an introduction to some of the hidden and more well-known dream-pop gems New Zealand has to offer.

—French for Rabbits

Womb – “Dust to Dust”
Also from Wellington, Womb released their EP Holding a Flame via Flying Nun earlier this year. Their music is the kind you want to listen to in secret, or swaying in a dark, smoky room. It’s so hazy and melancholy. Their “Dust to Dust” video was made by the wonderful Martin Sagadin, who has made all of our recent videos too.

Cloudboy – “Teaboy”
One of New Zealand’s first dream-pop acts, Cloudboyreleased their 2001 album Down At The End Of The Garden when I was 13. Teaboy is a perfect example of their whispery but complex sound — tabla drums, flutes, violin swirls. Seeking this out for the compilation, I was astounded to discover the accompanying video featured artist and gallery/venue owner Donna Demente. Her masks feature in our new video for “Ouija Board.” A dream pop connection spanning 20 years!

Secret Knives – “Simple Bliss”
I’m under the impression that often some of the most exciting art is often overlooked. Secret Knives creates densely layered shoegaze/psych pop/dream pop. “Simple Bliss” is on the more electric end, but also check out the earlier song, “The Northwest States.”

Fazerdaze – “Lucky Girl”
Luckily for us, Amelia Murray, aka Fazerdaze, hasn’t been so overlooked. Her music is deceptively breezy (her work is meticulous) and makes us want to run to the beach for a surf. Can’t wait for her new record!

She’s So Rad – “Cool It”
“Cool It” by Auckland duo She’s So Rad is a visceral experience, which also leans into the distorted electric guitar and synth combination so distinctive to the shoegazey end of dream pop.

Glass Vaults – “Brooklyn”
I’m feeling a bit blurry at this point in the mixtape journey as to “what” dream pop is as there are so many bands who have inadvertently been inspired by bands like the Cocteau Twins. Anyway, I live in Brooklyn and my name is Brooke — so I’m into this song.

Purple Pilgrims – “Two Worlds Apart”
Two sisters who create gentle and mystical ethereal worlds that are often slow moving and ritualistic.

Tiny Ruins — “Holograms”
Like us, Tiny Ruins started out creating a more earthy, folk-driven sound but in recent times their music has branched out into more spacious territory; the psychedelic elements overlaid with Hollie’s gorgeous floaty voice (I want to describe it as like a warm piece of toast?!).

Yumi Zouma – “Cool for a Second”
Yumi Zouma are arguably New Zealand’s most successful dream pop export. They’re based in various corners of the world, but continue to be so prolific. We’re coming to the end of the playlist… so this is one to dance to.

Chelsea Jade – “Laugh it Off”
Chelsea is the master of clever word-craft. I’m going to end with this because I’m not really sure if it is dream pop, but I once it heard described as such. So, I don’t know, really. But who cares? Just laugh it off.

Special mentions: on writing this I discovered a few more I couldn’t squeeze onto the list including Bachelorette, The Malchicks, Phoebe Rings, and Luke Buda (Phoenix Foundation).

(Feature Photo Credit: Lily Paris West)