For music to have soul, it has to have a story.
dreamcastmoe creates his life’s work according to that mantra. A D.C. singer, songwriter, percussionist and producer, he says his narrative is the most important part of his music.
“[I] started off as just a young Black man growing up in a city that was constantly in motion, in change,” dreamcastmoe says. “I grew up in a city that was predominantly Black, a city of color called the Chocolate City. And it’s changed over the years. I represent the D.C. of the late ’90s and early 2000s.”
dreamcastmoe — Davon behind the scenes — channels the D.C. he knows into his work, which blends R&B, funk, soul, jazz, hip-hop and more. Though he goes by a stage name and prefers to keep his full name private, he doesn’t hold back much else about himself.
“My music is truly a mirror and reflection of who I am,” he says. “So yes, dreamcastmoe is an artist, but dreamcastmoe is also Davon. That’s me. The music represents Davon’s story.”
As for what specifically informed his childhood?
“I’m a child of a single mother,” dreamcastmoe says right off the bat. “She kept me active because she knew she had to work. That’s why I am able to do so much on my own — I really touched a lot of different things at a young age. And she made that possible for me.”
So for enrolling him in activities that helped him to develop into a multi-disciplinary musician, a “big shoutout to Molly Bryant,” he says.
At places like the Sitar Arts Center, dreamcastmoe learned to play the djembe, congas and drum sets. It stuck with him: All these years later, drumming remains a critical part of his musical process. He starts composing a song by getting a rhythm going and then figuring out how he wants the song to progress.
The artist prefers not to define his genre, switching tone and rhythm on each soundtrack while pulling in elements from his own life. On his latest album “Sound Is Like Water,” which he’s releasing in parts, he uses water as a metaphor for rage and calm alike. Part 1 is available now, while Part 2 will drop early November.
“I was trying to give a reflection of my life at the time and how life tends to move like water. Water can [create] some destructive moments and be catastrophic. But it can also be a moment of calm. I love to sit by water. I love hear the sound of water.”
And because he’s so connected to his music, he gets personal with some of his favorite lyrics. After his aunt passed away, dreamcastmoe wrote “(301)341-7207” to memorialize her. The title of the song was her phone number.
“(301)341-7207” references one of dreamcastmoe’s favorite athletes, too — Washington Commanders free safety Sean Taylor, who died in 2007 — in a line dreamcastmoe finds particularly poignant.
“Tell me why the best die young / Twenty four laps around the sun,” he sings.
Creating music hasn’t always been easy for the artist, though. During the housing crisis, he sold off his equipment and got another job.
“It’s hard because we live in a city where people can make six figures easily,” he says. “As an artist, I did hit a low point. I sold all my music gear. I needed to pay rent, right? But I didn’t lose faith in my music. I just had a setback. But it was for a major comeback.”
He knows musicians deserve better support to work in D.C. than he did during the housing crisis, so now dreamcastmoe tries to incorporate his activism into his songs.
“True artistry can happen when somebody doesn’t have to worry about their living situation. I think there should be better housing opportunities for artists in the city.”
He points out the world only remembers one side of D.C.: the powerful, the ones who make enough money to easily afford nice homes. But that narrative doesn’t ring true for him.
When dreamcastmoe reads the news, he doesn’t feel like he sees the city he loves. He doesn’t see the city he fights for in his music.
“What the media and the rest of the world sees are white politicians and lobbyists. And what they don’t see are the communities and people who live in the city and struggle, survive and [celebrate] triumphs,” dreamcastmoe says. “That’s my story. My story is very far away from the lobbyist and the politicians. My story is on Georgia Avenue; it’s on U Street. My story represents the people who live and work within the city, who struggle and who win.”
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