By January of 2023, Dreamawake was already riding high. With his solo album, UltraViolet, released the previous December, the San Jose producer/rapper was still receiving positive reviews. But bigger things were brewing.
In February, Southern California rapper Yeat dropped his third album Aftërlye. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 for many consecutive weeks. It also featured a song produced by Dreamawake, the chilly trap of eleventh track “How It Go.”
Now, Dreamawake is at work on his next album, a new tape titled Spiral. In the meantime, he’s already released another single, Lunatik, a three song collaboration with rapper Chine Slender.
But back in 2016, Pablo Sanchez was just a student at San Jose State with a little bit of a musical background on the guitar. Making beats never crossed his mind. Then, one day a friend showed him a Travis Scott song that changed his life. Enamored by the sounds he heard, he made it his mission to create beats himself, taking on his new name: Dreamawake.
“I was 18 and I never listened to him beforehand. I remember hearing ‘90210’ off his album Rodeo and I thought that it sounded so insane. That shit made me feel such a type of way that I wanted to be able to replicate that type of feeling,” Dream says. Around the same time, he began to notice the production of Metro Boomin, particularly his collaboration with 21 Savage “Ocean Drive.”
“That’s when I was like, I gotta learn how to make beats.”
Dream says he comes from humble beginnings. That means expensive studio equipment—or even any equipment at all—wasn’t always available. But he didn’t let a dollar sign get in the way of his ambition. Dream’s earliest beats were written in a friend’s dorm room, on that friend’s iPad.
“I started using Garageband on an Ipad in my homie’s dorm. I was just messing around, dabbling, cooking up beats. Honestly, they were so ass, but I just stuck with it until I got a laptop. Once I got that, one of my friends at the time, Maasai (RIP), he put me onto FL Studio and showed me how to make basic beats.”
The thing was, as a guitar player up to that point, Dream had mostly been interested in other types of music. As a producer, these interests give his music a flavor distinct from others in the game. Dream’s sound can be described as futuristic and trippy, with some beats drawing influence from hardcore music, sending listeners into another dimension.
“I get a lot of my inspiration from heavy music, as far as like the energy behind it, like whether that’s dark 808s or heavy hitting 808s and even the melodies that I hear from certain bands,” Dream says.
One band in particular he cites for inspiration is Deftones.
“The key that they usually play their music in is very specific and the type of riffs they come up with are super simple but they’re catchy and melodic. The layering they have with the melodies, very ambient melodies that just take you to space,” he says. “If you could imagine what Young Thug, Future, and Chino Moreno sound like together in one person, that’s what I’m on. I think I found the perfect balance between my singing and rapping styles. Production-wise, I want to make people feel like people are floating through unknown depths.”
At the same time, he also takes inspiration from classics of dance music and EDM.
“House music, techno stuff, European electronic music. I like that very electric feeling and I feel like I put that in all my beats no matter what.”
Even his name came from a musical world totally disconnected from hip hop.
“Shit, to be honest with you I’m hella into metal music and metalcore and there’s this one band from Australia called Northland,” Dream says. “They have this album called Singularity and there’s this song ‘Dream Awake.’ It’s one of my favorite songs. I really like the name because it ties into this whole idea that life is a waking dream. Since listening to the band, they inspired me not just to pursue music specifically but to manifest this reality that I wanted for myself.”