The Making of “Sweet Dreams”
Some projects you plan, and others just creep up and attack from behind. You never can tell what is going to work.
If you are familiar with my music at all, you’ll know that I’m primarily a jazz singer. There are some other influences coming in my second album, but rock, pop, and synthesized sounds are about as far away from my signature sound as you can get. Yet, my most popular music video to date is a cover of the Eurythmics hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. So what happened?
It all started on Soundcloud. A guy known as Moon Dust had been a big supporter of my music on that platform, and one day suggested that we collaborate on something. He lives in Finland, so this project was entirely due to the magic of the internet.
He sent me a selection of tracks, all of which were in need of vocals. When I heard his version of “Sweet Dreams” I was immediately drawn to it. It had a dark, hypnotic quality, and it sounded like the melody lines had been submerged. I could barely trace them, but they were there—just under the surface.
It was a challenge to work out the vocals. I realised the bridge from the original (“Hold your head up, moving on…”) was missing. Singing just the verses didn’t seem adequate. The music demanded more, so I came up with the non-verbal singing parts. This was a completely new thing for me. We scat in jazz, but there are still syllables. I sang the way the music made me feel, and practiced obsessively to refine it.
The next step was to record the vocals and mix them with Moon Dust’s arrangement. I went to see Michael Dewey of Dewey Tunes in Vancouver. The plan was just to put down vocals and release it on Souncloud, but after we started, Michael asked my permission to video record it. “Sure” I said. The next day he sent me what we had done, and a 60 second video clip, which you can see here.
I was so knocked out by the sound and some of the shots in the clip that I knew we had to shoot a full video for the song. A couple of weeks later, I met up with Michael and my sister Edina to shoot. Edina and I had a Blade Runner theme in mind, so we went for a night shoot and she used the film to inspire my wardrobe and make-up.
Once we started filming, we just went with ideas and shots that occurred to us. The cherry blossom sequence was created when we happened to walk by a beautiful blossom laden tree and scooped up some of the fallen petals. We didn’t plan the fountains either. It was something we saw while walking around and decided to play with.
The final layer on the project was Michael’s work on the song. He added drums and guitar to sharpen the sound, creating a compelling sonic structure. Then he mixed it all together and edited the video. The final result was bigger and more complex than any of us expected.
So there you have it. A music video I never intended to make. A project that took on a life of its own. I hope you enjoy the result.