Heralding from the decadent west edge of the United States known as Los Angeles lurks a being who donates all of his work to your ears for free on bandcamp, while courageously fronting one-man live shows of his brilliant material.
I’m not sure if it was the mystique of Their Only Dreams that lured me in, or the throwback psychedelic sound minus the ego. If nothing else I saw an artist hiding in plain sight, not getting nearly enough attention. Heady lyrics and psych-pop genius is how I summarize my latest discovery.
David Lyudmirsky, or TOD, as I like to call him, is the high priest responsible for Their Only Dreams. From what I have experienced (TOD’s entire catalogue from band camp) the man is no one trick pony. You can hear the rich musical styles as they layer, or proceed one another. It is rock sub genre variety at its best. TOD goes from psych-rock to rock n’ soul to garage rock to folk rock. The rock never dissipates, but the wide array of complimentary tones are all over the place. My best description would be a mixtape of the most notable rock cross over giants. From Prince, to Bowie and Iggy, even Zapp & Roger, the influences are there, although never plagiarized.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with him for weeks via Facebook. Follow the words of this old crow, tell it TOD………
DP: Explain yourself TOD.
TOD: I am hoping that I get to share my music with as many people as possible; live and on recorded formats while I am here in this life making art regardless of an audience or not. I hope the support from an ever growing fan base I am continually working on attracting, even if it is only 1 new fan a day. While sharing my music independently will attract people who get what I am doing and want to help me. A record label that believes in my music , presses records, promotes and distributes them and an agent that wants to make sure I am playing shows and getting paid would be a great accomplishment that I can only hope for. I love making music, I believe I am here to do so and I want to share it with everyone.
DP: Your lyrics are very creative and visceral. Are you a madman or on really good drugs?
TOD: Im a madman who did really good drugs in the past.
DP: In your words, why do you make your albums available for free downloads? Do you think making your music free is good karma, or is it a way to get a leg up on people who try make money from their art?
TOD: I make my music available for free download because I want people to hear it, and it works. Only good can come from sharing your gifts. I am not competing with anyone else nor am I concerned how or what they do and what works for them. I am just giving away my art and doing things my way.
DP: What is your creative process? Or, how do you write and record your music?
TOD: I write lyrics down on a daily basis in my notepad app and collect them. I also write songs in a traditional way sitting down with an acoustic guitar and i usually practice them a few times a week to remember them. Then a couple of times a year I get 3 or 4 weeks to record non stop. I have been playing guitar, bass, drums and synths for years so I just get into a flow of laying down as many groundwork tracks in my playing style that are good enough to build on.
Recording is like painting to me , I just step back and look at my instruments and listen back to what I have been recording and keep going until I am satisfied. The latest thing I am working on, which is the 5th album, has already taken 2 of these blocks of time and I am not even finished yet.
DP: What started your conquest into music?
TOD: I guess I blew my own mind early on jamming with people and my initial foray into home recording by myself. I felt that if I could do that to myself and with the people I was playing music with, I could probably share it with more people and be happy doing that.
There’s no such thing as a lost soul – Permission Statement
DP: Who influenced you to make music?
TOD: There are just so many artists and musicians who inspired and probably influenced me early on. And I don’t want to name just a couple people and have any emphasis put on the because I have been writing my own songs for close to 18 years. In that time I have been developing my own style and not being all too much influenced but continually inspired by things I hear in passing or in deep listening to on a daily basis.
DP: Who is making good music now?
TOD: have you heard of “the humpback whales” ?
DP: Like whale songs? Touché…. What is good music?
TOD: Whatever you like.
DP: Explain your surroundings and how the music scene is in LA.
TOD: Los Angeles is a giant multidimensional mixed media landscape I traverse daily. I was born and raised here , so after all the sunshine and unique LA vibes, it becomes a…… I feel like in my teen years I got into this Australian outback sort of dreamtime with this place. Well there are scenes just like any other town and I have never been a part of any scene. I just book my own shows with whoever I feel like playing with, unless I am asked to hop on a show.
DP: How do your surroundings affect your art?
TOD: I just run wild in my head and use the scenery as a launching point. Native plants and trees, geological formations, UFOs, nostalgic neighborhoods, city history, local culture, personal experiences in the city etc…are all important to me in making music.
DP: How do you make a living?
TOD: I’m a superintendent/foreman for a general construction company along with website design.
DP: Some of your favorite films?
TOD: The Graduate, 400 Blows, The Last Temptation of Christ, A Hard Days Night, Velvet Goldmine, Doom Generation & Nowhere, Excalibur, Repo Man, The Quest For Fire, Pump Up The Volume……..
DP: Favorite albums?
TOD: Favorite? Here are some things I have been appreciating recently some of them are lifelong favorites:
Rodriguez – Cold Fact, Kraftwerk – Computer Love, John Maus – a collection of rarities and previously unreleased material, Foxygen – we are the 21st century ambassadors of peace and magic, Love – forever changes, Syd Barrett – complete discography, Eddie Harris – the electrifying eddie harris, An African Psych compilation my friend made me, NEU -1, Brian Jonestown Massacre – revelation, Gremlock – e.p.
DP: Favorite books?
TOD: Return From The Stars, Communion, The Second Ring Of Power, Sirens of Titan, Life, Bowie, Bolan, and the Brooklyn Boy, The Stranger, Just Kids, Childrens First Encyclopedia………
DP: Do you like sports, religion, nature, or existentialism, or all of the above?
TOD: No,yes,yes and yes
DP: Should the human race be sterilized at birth?
DP: Tell me about your song “Wings of Horus.” What was the driving impetus behind that song?
TOD: “Wings of Horus” was written and recorded a couple weeks after seeing Orange Orb UFO’s with my wife through our bedroom window. There were many eye witnesses that reported seeing them in the same location and it continued a few more times afterwards. It was very inspiring and still is to this day.
DP: How do you think your sound has developed over your albums (on Bandcamp)?
TOD: I began traveling towards a planet of sound and over the course of albums the sound of the planet has become louder ,clearer, and more vibrant the closer I get to the planet.
DP: Where do you hope to be with music and art in the coming years?
TOD: Planet TOD
DP: Describe a typical day of your life.
TOD: I wake up at about 6:30 am get ready and rush off to work. During work which lasts until 4-5 pm I have a lot of time to
myself even though I am working, because my work involves a lot of driving and I have no passengers. I take advantage of this time by writing a lot of potential lyrics and notes for things. I get home from work and give my attention to my 2 daughters ( 5 year and 22 month old) and my wife. We go to parks usually. After dinner we play some more, then I give the kids a bath and read stories to the younger one while my wife reads stories to the older one. Once they are asleep I usually watch an hour or 2 of tv with my wife and then I spend a couple hours listening to music with headphones, doing some graphic design and write down an interesting line or 2. Go to bed and hopefully have a cool dream that I can remember.
DP: Describe your name: Their Only Dreams.
TOD: After having a couple of bands and dreams of becoming successful, with them fizzled away, I continued writing and recording with the only person around me at that time which was my wife, then girlfriend. All I ever dreamed of was being able to play my own style of music and sustain a living from it. I just started to feel my age and I knew the weight of my responsibilities would only become heavier. But I never wanted to lose sight of my dream. Since I am lucky enough to not be alone in this life, I made it “their” as in “these are our only dreams” because the first songs of this project started out as a collaboration. I remember looking at the name after writing it down on a piece of paper and even though it originated from feelings of desperation, it gave me the power and freedom to keep moving forward into a world that I could keep growing as an artist and musician without any constraints and make my dreams come true. Dreams are really important to me in drawing source material for songs from. The name definitely is not meant to belittle anything about aspirational dreams or any kind of dream. Collectively it also symbolizes everyones dream.
DP: Are you depressed, neurotic, crazy, or do you consider yourself happy?
TOD: All of The Above
DP: Any advice for other artists trying to do something with themselves?
TOD: Give it all the love you have all the time.
So again, another discovery of seemingly psychotic and brilliant art; and my fantasies of finding a degenerate maniac behind it all have, in the end, exposed a hard working and honest gentleman. Unless you consider UFOs as inspiration to be uncanny. Flying saucers are what my dad would blame when he would expel flatulence when I was a boy in the mountains. That’s the closest I have come to ET. I would do anything to hear my dad fart again. So maybe it’s not bullshit after all. Welcome to planet TOD.
DP – DP