“Our jam room looks over a sweet ass beach,” Marlin’s Dreaming frontman Semisi says, hinting at the origins of the sparkling, laid-back music he’s been cooking up with his charismatic New Zealand bandmates.
Mixing bits and pieces of indie, psychedelic, and surf rock, Marlin’s Dreaming is making the kind of music that’s chilled-out and calming, while incorporating enough flashes of energy to keep you moving. True to the band’s name, I imagine this stuff sounding the best after a nap on the beach.
Their debut single “Cheeky Kids” is an immediately enjoyable slice of summer-ready psychedelic pop that feels as fluid and unforced as its inception. “We sort of just jammed this one a lot over the summer before recording,” Semisi explains. “Nothing fancy. Just jammed it ‘till it felt like it was at a vibey point.”
After meeting at a surf shop in Dunedin, New Zealand where Semisi worked for years, the group’s founding members got to work on their debut album, Lizard Tears. And they got help from a couple industry veterans to shape their ideas into reality. Lizard Tears was produced by Justyn Pilbrow (The Neighbourhood) and mixed by Jeff Ellis (Frank Ocean, SWMRS, Kali Uchis).
“It was really cool to work with humans that have achieved so much in their careers,” Semisi says. “Definitely puts everything into perspective. We are just plankton in a big sea of big fishes.”
What came out from the process was a consistently solid project from top-to-bottom, dotted with sneaky gems like the blissful one-two punch of “Danish Girl” and “Sally and the Tyre” waiting at the back half of the album.
Describing a thoroughly New Zealand experience as the ideal setting to hear this thing for the first time, Semisi says, “You just got home from a huge day of laying drains in South Dunedin, and you’re just ready for some feet up and a Speights (New Zealand beer). Jump onto Apple, Spotify, or whatever platform you listen to music on, and flick on Lizard Tears. It’ll lift the spirits and also mellow you out.”
Watch their new video for “Floating” below and continue for our email interview with singer/songwriter Semisi. Lizard Tears is available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify (or find it at the bottom of this page).
Can you introduce the members of the band? How did you guys met and start making music together?
Semisi: I met Tim (guitarist) a couple years back at Hydro Surf, a surf shop that I’ve worked at for the last like five years. We got on pretty good but he was always like a senior to me. I think I was like 17 when I met him? So, full grom.
I started playing music, and knew he fucking shredded the gat so I hit him up to record some tunes with me. I rounded up some other bro’s that were down to play some music over the summer. Conor (drums) and Max (bass) and BAM we smashed out like 10 songs—9 of which made the album/EP. Conor and Max split to do their own thing after recording, so we picked up Hamish and Oscar.
“Cheeky Kids” has a really nice loose, carefree energy to it. Is that what the creation process was like?
Yeah, for sure. Our jam room looks over a sweet ass beach, so we sort of just jammed this one a lot over the summer before recording. Nothing fancy haha. Just jammed it ‘till it felt like it was at a vibey point.
Why did you decide to share that as your first single?
We just thought, we are a new band. Let’s kick things off with a bang, nice tempo kind of a buzz. Also, that track in particular turned out pretty fire, and Kirk and Matthew (managers) seemed to fuck with it the most.
Your second single “Floating” has a different, slower feel to it. Can you tell me anything about that song and video? (I’m especially intrigued by your sunglass choices).
Yeah, the video is on another trip! Jake (filmer, co-director) is a full on wizard behind the glass. And I had some pretty trippy ideas that seemed to turn out better than I thought. I don’t know, the whole band just seemed to be psyched on getting a slightly ghetto South Dunedin (where we live in NZ) look to it, and I think we achieved that in a light-hearted way.
The glasses are just sort of a good accident. Hamish and I picked up some full on speed dealers from the dump and thought it would be a crack up to be in trenchies and some cooked glasses on, so we did it. Another thing is people are always trying to go super HAM with serious videos, and we thought we’d go for something quite serious, but with a bit of a laugh as well!
It was really cool to work with humans that have achieved so much in their careers. Definitely puts everything into perspective. We are just plankton in a big sea of big fishes.
Justyn Pilbrow and Jeff Ellis were both involved with this album. They’ve each worked on some really great projects over the years. What was it like working with them and what did they bring to the project?
It was really cool to work with humans that have achieved so much in their careers. Definitely puts everything into perspective. We are just plankton in a big sea of big fishes. Jutsyn had a lot of great input. Mainly structural stuff to do with the songs. He also has a great Michael Caine impersonation. Justyn is a full on legend. Super chilled out. No qualms, which is cool. We also got to see him and Elemeno P play which was some good scenes!
Jeff… Wow, he’s a character. We had a lot of fun in LA mixing with him! He really made the tunes pop. He’s great at what he does and we are stoked to have had his touch on the mixes.
Anything you’d like to share about the creation of the album in general? Any stories that stand out?
While we were recording, we got a bit antsy… Yah know, cabin fever. So we decided to pack down a scrum in the hallway. With the band, Justyn, and the engineer Oli. It was seriously funny.
We got into some antics for the week. Just before we went into the studio for the last time to hear the final rough mixes of the tunes, we had perhaps a bit too much of the sweet Mary Jane. We all thought the tunes had been slowed down half tempo, which made for an interesting end to the recording. We got sent the roughs by Justyn a week later and it sounded heaps faster haha so that was good.
Describe an ideal setting for someone to listen to this album for the first time.
You just got home from a huge day of laying drains in South Dunedin, and you’re just ready for some feet up and a Speights (New Zealand beer). Jump onto Apple, Spotify, or whatever platform you listen to music on, and flick on Lizard Tears. It’ll lift the spirits and also mellow you out.
I’ve gotta ask about the name. Is that a reference to a sleepy fish? Or what’s going on there?
We fluffed around deciding on a name for ages. Man, it was so draining. First it was gonna be Leo-Barbara, Potent Pregnancy, Last Night’s Band… The list goes on haha. We came up with some pretty ridiculous names. Marlin’s Dreaming is just whatever… We figured not many band names make sense and if people like the music they’ll get around the name no matter what it is. Theres some hectic shit about seeing marlins in your dreams and some symbolic crap but that’s a story for another day.
You’ve been in other bands before (like GROMz). What’s special about Marlin’s Dreaming? What makes you excited about this band?
Yeah I have! GROMz was super fun. I was just keen to do something and play with some new musicians. And get creative while I still can… Soon I’ll be washed up haha. Marlin’s Dreaming is what I am frothing right now for sure. We are about to on tour in January, which will be so sick. We are all really, really excited about the future.
Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Burnt Umber upon,
Sealed curtains that can’t be drawn,
Woken by sleep, yawn.