Neon Dreams get personal on upcoming album, ‘The Good, The True And The Beautiful’ | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Halifax pop duo Neon Dreams will take listeners on a hero's journey on their latest record, ‘The Good, The True And The Beautiful’, dropping June 21.

Neon Dreams get personal on upcoming album, ‘The Good, The True And The Beautiful’

The JUNO award-winning pop duo take listeners through a hero’s journey on their latest record

  Neon Dreams is no stranger to songs that touch on personal aspects of the Halifax duo’s lives. Some of their biggest hits have been introspective on the part of their creators.

However, vocalist Frank Kadillac says their upcoming record The Good, The True And The Beautiful touches on his experiences like never before, inspired in part by Joseph Campbell’s notion of the hero’s journey.

“It’s taking my spiritual beliefs and everything I’ve learned on my journey and putting it into a hero’s journey for people to consume and understand,” said Kadillac in an interview with The Coast.

To Kadillac, that’s the job of a musician: taking their truth and experience and putting it into a story for others, especially youth, to help them through their lives.

And just like the average human experience, this album is all over the place with its sound, ranging from the choir chorus on “Jonah,” to the ukulele intro leading into “The Art of Letting Go.”

While the album takes influences from across the sonic spectrum, it remains distinctly Neon Dreams in its production, style, and lyricism.

“It’s always so hard to define what genre it is,” said drummer Adrian Morris. “I grew up playing in punk bands, hardcore bands, and when I started with Frank it was more on the pop-punk sort of side. We kind of moved into electronic. I’ve lived with some hip-hoppers for a while. We kind of draw from everything that’s ever influenced us into music and production. Finding something to compare it to is very difficult.”

The only comparison he could think of is pop and hip-hop musician and producer Jon Bellion, who takes a similarly musical and conceptual approach to his work.

But for Kadillac, whatever comparison you could make doesn’t matter—to him, it’s all about how people resonate with the music.

“It’s more, like, how it makes people feel," he said. "The ones who push the limits on what music is are the ones who people create genres after."

Guiding compass

Kadillac described the title of the album as his “guiding compass” for his own life.

“When you search for things in this world that feel right to your heart, it’s simple. The simple truth is, if it’s good, true, and beautiful, it’s the right direction.”

As he attempts to navigate his life on this particular album—and help others navigate theirs, in the process—he touches on several relatable themes. The song “The Art of Letting Go” is one example: an anthem with lyrics describing a youngster, trapped in their room, listening to Linkin Park and playing Zelda. South African singer Matthew Mole lends his vocal talents to the track.

The idea of the song came from Kadillac’s experience on a plane, travelling from India to Cape Town, South Africa. He sat next to a young girl, who had awoken from her sleep groggy and dazed, not knowing where she was. As Kadillac listened to her story and tried to comfort her, he couldn’t help but think about what had helped shape his life.

“I told her, the thing that changed my life was the type of music I was listening to,” he said. “I started finding all these songs, like ‘In The End’ by Linkin Park. That gave me a voice.”

Kadillac matched this philosophy with a song concept from Mole about the music they listened to growing up, and it came together as one of the singles for the album.

Another of the singles, “Masterpiece”, delves deeply into a figure from Kadillac’s past—a cousin who tragically lost his life due to gun violence.

“He was a person I discovered music with, and discovered the first part of my life with,” said Kadillac, adding that he had been one of the only constants in his life as his family moved around. “When you don’t live in an area for so long… with him, it means a lot, and he was with [me] all the time.”

When he passed, it was the first time Kadillac had experienced such intense grief for someone who had been so close.

“I wasn’t prepared for that kind of pain and loss, as I never lost anyone I loved before,” he explains. “I held it in. No one taught me how to get over it. I just balled it up and kept it inside.”

When he finally talked about it, the emotional release helped him realize it was a part of the human experience.

“There’s a lot of positivity to understanding this is a part of life,” said Kadillac. “It makes you care about the simple things. We’re here for a purpose. His passing gave me so much more than just that—there’s a reason why we’re all here, and we can’t stay, so we gotta make so much of this time here trying to do the right things and experiencing what’s beautiful.”

International success

With the record slated for release on June 21, fans from coast to coast will be eager to listen—yet, it isn’t just Canada tuning into what Neon Dreams is putting down.

In fact, the band has seen a wide amount of success in South Africa.

“We still don’t really know how it happened,” said Morris. “We had a song that took off at the end of 2020, going into 2021, and the youth took that song, ‘Life Without Fantasies’, and made it their own.”

The song had come out a few years prior to it blowing up in South Africa. Morris says they expected it to gain traction in Canada, but it sadly fell short of expectations.

“Fast forward three or four years later in South Africa, it just started bubbling,” said Morris. “We noticed streams were going up.”

While it isn’t uncommon for a song to randomly pick up an audience in another country, the success of “Life Without Fantasies” in South Africa significantly changed the duo's direction.

“We had thousands of kids messaging us, ‘You have to come to South Africa.’ We see all these videos of kids going about their life with the song,” Morris explains. “I will never forget that first show we did in Stellenbosch, and just like, the kids chanting and screaming, singing louder than what we could play with the speakers. It was a shock.”

Neon Dreams now splits their time between Canada and South Africa to accommodate their ever-growing fanbase. To their surprise, their music is now helping people across the globe.

At the end of the day, that’s Kadillac’s main goal with their music.

“I’ve dedicated a lot of my life to figuring out what life is, and who I am as a person because if I know who I am, I can help others.”

Brendyn Creamer

Brendyn is a reporter for The Coast covering news, arts and entertainment throughout Halifax. He was formerly the lead editor of the Truro News and The News (New Glasgow) weekly publications. Hailing from Norris Arm North, a small community in central Newfoundland, his aversion to the outside world has led him...
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