Fans of actor Jensen Atwood (Noah’s Ark, Oprah Winfrey’s Their Eyes Were Watching God) are basking in the release of Dreamkillaz, the new self-titled debut album by his L.A.-based Progressive Rock band, comprised of lead guitarist Andy Mixner; bass player and album producer Eric Sanchez; Keith Williams on drums; and Atwood on lead vocals. MIQ caught up with the singer-songwriter and actor, who recently performed to a packed house at Downtown L.A.’s Five Star Bar.
Why the name Dreamkillaz?
Jensen: It’s the idea that people have negative thoughts about things that shouldn’t be considered negative. When I was growing up, just being a Black male could be considered negative, and it’s not. When people hear the term Dreamkillaz, they think of someone preventing them from pursuing their dreams. Our concept is about the opposite of that.
Being a Black kid growing up in L.A., people are going to assume you’re a Hip-Hop/R&B fan. What prompted the Hard Rock direction?
I grew up in a Hip-Hop world. I was in the R&B world singing background for Tyrese and in an R&B group called, Reign. The first album I owned was by Whodini, and NWA was very popular in South Central. Back then rap was about saying something, speaking up for the people. There was a message behind it. That’s been lost in a lot of Hip-Hop, currently, and even in R&B there wasn’t a voice that represented what I wanted to say. Rock & Roll kind of filled that void for me?
Briefly talk about your musical influences and your influences for this album.
For the album, Red Hot Chili Peppers were definitely at the top of my list of influences, along with bands like Three Days Grace, System of a Down, and even Guns & Roses. But I love all types of music from Tupac to Nancy Wilson.
What was the inspiration behind remaking Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” (titled just “More”)?
I wanted to do something different. Initially, we tried to cover some Terence Trent D’Arby, and it may have been a bit too close to home in the area of Rock & Roll. I wanted to cover something unexpected and that was the opposite of what we’re doing, so we could flip it.
MIQ’s favorite songs are “Frienemy,” and “My Love.” What songs stand out to you, personally?
Well, I love them all. I wrote the entire project (with the exception of “More”) and with the purpose of wanting to create a complete album. The songs “Rock” and “Gone,” are my two favorites.
Some fans are going to wonder if you’re putting film and TV on the back burner for music.
I’m an artist and I like to express myself in various ways. I’ve been acting, dancing, singing and modeling since I can remember. I’m pursing them all equally. I’m still auditioning, and recently finished three short films (including “Before I Do,” with Omar Gooding).
What are you doing to promote and market Dreamkillaz?
That’s where the artistry truly comes, because it is an independent project. I have to be creative in the promotion of it. I’ve been reaching out to a lot of people I’ve worked with before in television and film; producers and directors for [music] placements on their upcoming projects. Then there’s social media, which has been my best friend…letting people know that Dreamkillaz exist. firstname.lastname@example.org