Daydream Plus
James Moore


Don’t you love it when the bands you love drop a record out of nowhere? We know we do, and the latest to surprise us is Ontario’s Daydream Plus, who just popped out the formidable EP Escape at Your Own Pace.

Much like their debut Clues Recalled from Memory, the tones are absolutely buttery, leaving a rich feeling in headphones and speakers. Coming from members of Tomb Mold, it’s a delicious surprise. In fact you can’t help but wonder what the secret ingredient is – the result of their natural chemistry? Mastermind audio engineering? The gear they used? A combination of all of the above?

Well you know what, we’re going to find out – guitarist Payson Power was gracious enough to give us a sneak preview of Escape at Your Own Pace a few weeks back, and even answered a few questions for us as we chowed down the record. Do yourself a favor and check it out below while Payson clues us in on what gear they used, liminal inspirations, the vitality of a record’s artwork, and more. It’s a great read, if we do say so ourselves.

Enjoy at your own pace!

FB: First of all, how did DDP come to be? Did it come before or after your other projects?

Payson: After Tomb Mold’s 2019 European tour I bought myself a Jazzmaster with the intention of writing some solo guitar music. I sat down with a looper and stumbled on an idea right away, just a simple chord progression at a slow tempo with a lead line floating over it. It didn’t turn out as melancholic as I had expected, instead it sounded kind of breezy. I demoed it again at a faster clip and sent it to Max (drummer and vocalist of Tomb Mold) and asked him if he was interested in playing drums on it. That demo became the song Navigator from our first EP, Clues Recalled From Memory. Clues is just Max and I, but since then we’ve added our friends Kevin Sia (bass) and Ace Mendoza (guitar) to the party. Both dudes are on the new record, and we’ve been able to play a couple shows as well.

FB: There’s an almost liminal feel to the band’s tunes – are any of the songs / titles inspired by dreams?

Payson: The songs are written with a mood and environment in mind, and are always drawn from personal experience. The titles are a reference to the scenario in question, they usually come to me pretty quickly. I aim to take something hazy and bring it into focus as best I can. It could be the encapsulation of a specific remembrance that gives the music a transitory feeling. Maybe it’s the imperfection of memory that gives the songs a dreamy character. All I know is I’d like for the songs to be a conduit for a sincere reaction, whether it be a spark of nostalgia or a gateway to relaxation. The experience will obviously be different for every listener. If the music makes you feel anything at all I’m stoked.

FB: Part of that dream-like feel comes from the cover art for the records themselves, which in DDP’s case are perfect pairings – if it makes sense to ask, is there a visual component to the band?

Payson: Absolutely. The way I see it, the one canonical visual statement you can make as a musician is your album art. The first Black Sabbath album left a massive impression on me as a kid. The cover photo reflected what you were hearing in the opening track; a nightmare of slow dawning horror. To me, a great album cover is a portal. James Moore handled the art on the new EP and did an incredible job. A technical wizard who honed in on exactly what we were going for and knocked it out of the park. I have the painting at home, it’s as close as I’ll get to owning a Honda CRX Si. I’d also like to mention John Slaby, who passed away earlier this year. John painted the cover for Clues Recalled From Memory, and working with him was a wonderful experience. He boosted my confidence when I really needed it. Escape At Your Own Pace is dedicated to him.

FB: At this point, math rock almost feels like a term that describes listeners more than music itself – does DDP set out to create math rock, or does math rock just provide a perfect listening base for the style of music you create?

Payson: Most definitely the latter! Aside from championing instrumental music, the genre has never been more varied as far as what falls under the math rock umbrella. The term itself is reductive, yet somehow works in spite of it meaning so many different things. Perhaps that’s a testament to the open-mindedness of your average math rock listener, or maybe the genre’s breadth is wide because it’s antithetical to try and enforce rules on a style of music based on breaking convention. Either way, I’m fine with being called a math rock band. No one has complained yet!

FB: The first record gave us almost entirely chill and tranquil vibes – the new one has some more immediacy to it, which we dig immensely. Were there any different / new inspirations for the new tunes?

Payson: Thank you! To me the EPs are two different degrees of warm weather. We made an effort to make this one a touch more bouncy without compromising on the clean production of the first record. I wanted to rock a little harder but still stay in the carpool lane. Kevin and Ace’s contributions will go a long way towards animating our sound from here on out as well.

FB: Speaking of, what are some things that inspire your songwriting outside of other bands?

Payson: When it comes to composition, ’90s video game music. So much of my favourite music ever written comes from that era, and most of it is devastatingly simple. The melodies are unbelievable, and can play on repeat without wearing out their welcome. Slice of life anime has a very specific flavour of stress relief that I’m always in pursuit of, and a reminder that less is often more. A peaceful imaginary world makes me reflect on my own rare moments of impromptu tranquility. Ultimately though, nostalgia remains the undisputed champion of inspiration; it’s the power supply for the sentimentality translator.


FB: Sometimes you hear about the way a song came together and it’s a surprise how easy / difficult it was to write – what were some of the challenges with this record, if any?

Payson: The biggest challenge for me is arranging the songs. I’ll play the parts in every possible configuration and then agonize over which version flows best. I like to take cues from city pop and yacht rock song structures, just for that familiar tug of FM radio gravity. I wrote almost all of Gently Technical in 2019 and it only took a few hours. The guitar solo at the end of the song was written in 2023 and took exponentially longer than the rest of the track combined. Try To Relax took a year to write and arrange, and then we changed the ending just a couple days before recording. It’s interesting, after decades of making only aggressive music I have a ton of energy for this band. I feel like I’m in the bonus stage of Street Fighter II where you just beat the shit out of a car.

FB: DDP has, to our ears, an immaculate, almost literally sparkling sound, but our normal words like “twinkling” or “twang” don’t really seem to fit. What kind of guitars were used on this record and/or was any of the gear the same as the last record?

Payson: I’m really glad to hear that! I think the glassy production is where we deviate from a lot of math rock. Avoiding the scrappy Midwestern emo jumble is a conscious decision, we’re directly influenced by the soft rock sheen of AOR. We used a lot of the same gear from the first EP with some minor changes. I play an Ibanez AZ2402 through a Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue with a lot of pedals. For leads I used the neck and middle pickup positions and The Accountant compressor by Fairfield Circuitry on a light setting. It adds an iota of gain, and works great in tandem with my Tube Screamer (drive turned all the way down). For my rhythm track I used The Warden compressor by EarthQuaker and went fully clean with a touch of reverb from the Meris Mercury7. Ace used a Fender Am Pro II Strat through a Vox AC10, pretty sure he had a JHS Morning Glory for a speck of dirt on most of his rhythm playing. He also used the Walrus Deep Six for compression and an EarthQuaker Dispatch Master for a hint of reverb. Kevin used a Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jazz Bass V and no pedals, and I’m pretty sure he used a GK amp. Max used whatever kit was at the studio, and then overdubbed some auxiliary percussion after everything else was tracked.

FB: Where does the title Escape at Your Own Pace come from?

Payson: It’s a phrase I came up with as a reminder to keep making progress. We all have dreams and problems. Comparing yourself to others only gets in the way of the goals you want to achieve or the headaches you want to cure. Keep moving forward and eventually you’ll get where you’re going. Try and enjoy the ride though, because you can’t go back.