The Undercover Dream Lovers, the solo project of Brooklyn-based artist and producer Matt Koenig, was relatively unknown last year. And then something every aspiring musician only dreams of. Their lead single, “Good Luck”, unveiled on Spotify, and within a week, went viral, “garnering over 400k plays in less than 2 months after its release”. “I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet,” Koenig told me of the attention. Well, brace yourself bud.
Today, we’re happy to premiere the video for “Good Luck” right here for your thirsty eyes and ears. Shot over the course of three hours on an iPhone by Alex Laliberte, the video is about as close as you can get to a day-in-the-life in New York City. So enjoy. And read our interview with the band below. –Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUTH: Have you always been making music? When did this all start for you?
THE UNDERCOVER DREAM LOVERS: I’ve played guitar since I was about 12. I was in band and chorus in high school, and my mom always encouraged music and art when I was younger. I had a band called “Ike” in Pittsburgh at ages 20-21 that was really fun and crazy. We played a lot of college basement gigs. It was a blast. I started playing keys about 5 years ago but it really only clicked the past couple of years. Pretty much the same goes for mixing and production.
Tell me about The Undercover Dream Lovers.
I started the Dream Lovers when I was between jobs in NYC. I got caught up in the NYC work hustle for the first two years and was on a bit of a hiatus from the last time I created music back in Pittsburg.
Any story behind the name?
The name I literally dreamed up… well sort of. I had some valerian root tea and was playing with names in my head when I came up with the idea. It took a lot of effort to get up and write the name down. But I’m glad I did.
Do you prefer the solo thing, as opposed to being in a band?
I really only became a solo artist out of practicality. I love playing and creating with others, and always used to prefer it. Now I’d say both solo and collaboration have different appeals. It’s just trickier to coordinate schedules and for everyone to feel like they are getting what they want out of the tunes sometimes.
How stoked were you to find out “Good Luck” went viral on Spotify? How did that unfold for you?
I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet. I feel like I have a lot of work to do before it can feel like concrete. But it does feel pretty great, and I hope is just the start.
When you wrote the song, did you anticipate this kind of attention?
I just hoped people would like it. I know how hard it is for a song to stand out these days, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if it just blended in with all the others. It’s definitely a good feeling to get the positive feedback. Makes me excited to see how the next few releases go.
What was the recording process like for “Good Luck”?
I was fortunate enough to get an offer from Converse’s Rubber Tracks Studio to come record for the day. I hadn’t written the song yet, but I work really fast and wanted the day to be more about the experience. I went in with a piano melody and a vague idea of what the song was supposed to feel like. My buddy, Ben Wagner, came with me to track drums. We were able to track the drums, vocals and some acoustic piano in the 8-hour session. The rest I recorded at home. My friend Dave Weingarten and I double-teamed the mix.
“Good Luck” was released as a single only. Do you have an album up your sleeves?
Not quite an album, but there’s definitely something up my sleeve.
As the writer and producer of your own music, do you enlist any help to complete your songs?
My buddy Ben Wagner helped on “Good Luck” with drums and it was great to talk through ideas with him at our Converse session. Galen Gatzke has been playing guitar in the Dream Lovers since our first show last April and is constantly giving me advice on parts and mixing. He’ll pop over from time to time and help out on what ever little part I happen to be working on that day. My homie Dave Weingarten and I collaborated on the mix of “Good Luck”. His experience definitely gave me a new view on how each song’s mix can tell a story and have a unique sonic footprint.
I know you tour with a band. How’d you go about selecting the members?
It’s been pretty tough to be honest. We’ve changed the lineup a bunch. Only because new bands are tough when everyone is in like 12 other projects. I’ve had members who were close friends before I started making music again, people I met at a new job, and also strangers on craigslist. It’s been cool though, because everyone I’ve played with has taught me something different.
Tell me about the video. Was there any concept behind it?
The concept is kind of a vague story of a guy (played by me) and a girl on a date. We originally had this really complicated story, which we realized was totally not doable with our timeline and budget. So we just picked some locations we liked and improved it. It was all very last minute because my buddy, Alex Laliberte, who filmed it was moving the next day. He really made the magic happen with his video style and editing. He is amazing and really brought the video to life.
What’s your definition of good luck?
Hmm I guess I’d say the feeling when you know something is unlikely but for some reason in your gut you feel like it’ll go your way anyway and then it does. Ironically, the weeks building up to the release I had a lot of random bad luck so it was nice when it finally came out and turned things around.