Dysplay, a pop duo comprised of talented musicians Eric Scullin and Devin Hoffman, recently came out with a new song titled “Dream”. The track is an aptly titled one and one that, in a nutshell, I can only describe as a mixture between energetic and casual. It’s not hard to notice that 80’s pop probably had a lot to do with the musical inspiration of the song, but it’s also worthy to note that a subtle thread of modern-day alt-pop is infused into the backbone of the track as well. The bright and colorful music video for “Dream” is a testament to this; you can watch it below.
I had the wonderful opportunity to discover more about the band in the last few months, and would like to thank Eric and Devin for diligently answering some of the questions that I happened to have for them.
I always ask people this, but I’m genuinely curious to know: why did you decide on the name ‘Dysplay’?
Eric: I was looking through a glossary of computer terms and it stood out. We changed the spelling to give it its own meaning.
Your musical sound is extremely unique in terms of today’s music of the same genre… what made you decide to use 80s pop as a major inspiration for your group?
Devin: We appreciate the compliment! I think we both just love a lot of music from the 80’s but aren’t really attached to any particular decade. It’s kind of just what comes out. We do love synths and a lot of the synths we own are from or are modeled after ones from the 80’s, so maybe that has something to do with it.
How did both of you really get into music in the first place? What’s your backstory?
Devin: I’ve always been studying music to some extent since I was a toddler, starting with piano lessons. When I was two I climbed on top of the family piano and fell off onto the tile, resulting in stitches on my head that I still have a scar from. With my brother as inspiration I picked up the guitar around 11 and shortly thereafter started playing the upright bass which led me to some deep study of classical music. I followed that until later in high school when I got interested in jazz, which took me out here to LA for college at USC because the jazz bass professor was kind of a hero of mine. All the while I was always listening to other styles and genres that were more contemporary but I thought it was important that if I wanted to be a professional musician I should have a strong foundation in the history of music. Even though I don’t really play/write much classical or jazz these days, having that background definitely helps me feel more comfortable about diving into whatever is next. There’s just 12 notes out there in Western music and you can boil pretty much anything down to the fundamentals that you learn from studying the history of it.
Eric: My grandmother was my first piano teacher at a really young age and it just went from there. I got Pro Tools 6 with an Mbox for my PC laptop when I was 14 so I could record ideas and here we are.
If you could do a collaboration with any artist or group, who would you do it with?
Eric: Brian Eno.
Devin: We love Francis and the Lights so I’d love to work with him one day. If I could write a song with one person though, it would have to be Don Henley, though I seriously doubt he’d be interested.
To me, “Dream” has a really relaxing quality to it despite being an upbeat song, which I though was interesting. Is it the precedent of any new music?
Devin: Thanks for saying that. I don’t think that’s something we’re aiming for, but I’m glad you feel that way about it. Maybe we’ll think about that for some future songwriting.
Do you have a particular process that you go through when creating new music or is it very different every time?
Devin: In a micro-sense, it’s definitely different each time. From a macro perspective, we usually create like ten ideas before we find something that really inspires us, then we work on it for months and months until I just about hate it, then I wait until I start liking it more, then it’s usually done.
Eric: We often start different ideas alone then bring them to each other and the result ends up being more interesting, seeing the other guy’s take on it.
Are you guys risk-takers (with your careers and/or other real life situations) or do you like to play it safe?
Devin: I think there’s a sweet spot in the balance between risk and safety in life. There are virtues and benefits of both, I think, whether in art, life, health, relationships…