“Space, Alienation, & Wonder”: London’s junodream Unpack the Human Experience on ‘Pools of Colour,’ Their Soul-Stirring Debut Album

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran
London dream rock band junodream take us track-by-track through their breathtaking debut album ‘Pools of Colour,’ an achingly intimate, cinematic, and soul-stirring record about connection, the human condition, and the dilation of space in modern life.
for fans of Radiohead, Pink Floyd, early Coldplay
Stream: “Kitchen Sink Drama” – junodream

Let your imagination take hold; you’re independent of time and space. Breathе… Relax…

“This is quite a personal thing I have felt over the years from being a kid to now, but I feel like spaces between people are getting bigger,” junodream’s Ed Vyvyan says, opening up a great big can of philosophical worms. “Even though we’re more connected via the Internet, Amazon, travel, I feel like the distances between people are getting bigger. The emotional distances, the social distances, physical distances.”

It’s heady subject matter, but something Vyvyan and his bandmates have thought about a lot over the past few years: The ways in which people meaningfully connect are shrinking, and the ways in which we are all disconnected are on the rise. “I feel that in those growing gaps between people, some negative feelings are poured in,” he continues. “People are more anxious these days. People are more resentful, people are more lonely. And that’s the snapshot of the world as we see it today, is a space where we’re separated from each other and there’s more anxiety around.”

But not all hope is lost – and that’s where junodream come into the equation. Straddling darkness and light, past, present, and future, the dream rock band’s debut album Pools of Colour aches with unadulterated emotion, unfiltered depth, longing, hope, and wonder. junodream confront, contemplate, and comment on modernity and the human condition without drawing conclusions – facilitating open-ended conversations (and reflections) on the state of things that provoke us to, in turn, dig deeper into ourselves and the many ways in which we do and don’t connect with the world.

Pools of Colour - junodream
Pools of Colour – junodream
Here, looking down a sink
Trying to find a hole
In which to disappear
Before I lose control
‘Cus everybody knows
You smile just like your mum
I never liked her much
She never liked me too
Blame it on the lunch
What’s got into you?
– “Kitchen Sink Drama,” junodream

Released January 26, 2024 via AWAL, Pools of Colour is the bold and breathtaking debut album from London’s junodream. One of Atwood Magazine‘s artists to watch, the four-piece of lead vocalist and keyboardist Ed Vyvyan, guitarist Tom Rea, guitarist Dougal Gray, and drummer Jake Gidley have been sending shivers down their audience’s spines for the past several years now through chilling, churning, and quite frankly charming songs that go beyond the pale in capturing slivers of our shared human experience.

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran

The band’s first full-length release follows three EPs – 2018’s Galactica, 2019’s Isn’t It Lovely, and 2021’s Travel Guide, each of which saw the young band finding their footing and exploring the many ways in which they could bridge the sonic and emotional spectrums.

“We’ve quite publicly gone on a sonic journey with the first few releases,” Tom Rea says. “A lot of artists can spend years and years working away at that sound and then present themselves as the fully finished article. Especially here in London, there’s a lot of hype around artists that do that. They seem to explode on the scene out of nowhere, really. They’ve been going at it for years, whereas we’ve done the opposite where we’ve very publicly done everything — from day dot, we did everything ourselves, whether it be the design, the music production, the whole package, and then sort of just kept chugging out there.”

For the band, a full-length record offered an opportunity to make more of the kind of music that they’ve always enjoyed.

“I think there’s a temptation when you’re releasing a small number of tracks and you’re still quite unknown to try and grab attention with the songs,” Ed Vyvyan adds. “But I think with an album, you’re afforded the chance to kind of step back and do some slightly more introspective things, which is where we thrive. You have more latitude to be a bit more deliberate with what you’re saying. With an album, I think you can tap into more aspects of a singular theme, which makes it richer, and we really like that. We like going into the context and the detail of everything we do, so whether that’s the design side of things, sonics, the lyrics, etc., everything fits within the junodream world – and so an album’s a really good opportunity to kind of flesh that out a bit more.”

“It’s much more of a piece of art in a way where you can sort of dig in and just enjoy it and do it for your own sake rather than the sake of others,” Rea smiles, “…which at times we may and may not have done unconsciously.”

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran

This truth is borne out throughout Pools of Colour, in which junodream explore the dilation of space in modern life.

“The idea for ‘pools of colour’ is that amongst the gray, you can find these pockets of beauty,” Vyvyan explains. “So we are commenting on the world now, but it’s supposed to be kind of a hopeful album, even though the context is bleak. It’s supposed to be, ‘Hold on. If you slow down, you can see the daisies growing through the concrete,’ that sort of thing. Maybe that doesn’t really feel like it has a conclusion to it, but that’s kind of the point; it’s supposed to offer something for everyone to relate to.”

It’s a poignant concept, this idea that we’re all getting farther apart from one another as the spaces between us grow, but part of junodream’s journey also involves how we might reverse the polarity and bring ourselves closer together again.

“We go through this arc in the album where the first lyric is, ‘This is a new day,’” Vyvyan notes. “It’s supposed to mirror a little bit of a cycle of life, or a day. And by the end, we’re onto ‘Lullaby,’ heading to sleep. But crucially, the last track is called ‘The Oranges,’ and that’s about lucid dreams that I used to have (and I still have), where I used to see oranges bouncing around. And that would let me know that I was dreaming. But the idea of finishing with ‘The Oranges’ is that, where all of the dilation of space throughout the album might make you feel insignificant, that’s a key sort of theme – insignificance, and coming to terms with that, and your relative scale.”

“By the end, the point is that in your dreams is where you are ultimately significant. You have full control. Things are beautiful. It’s kind of a point that, hint, hint, we are junodream! That’s what we’re trying to be: We’re trying to be a release from all of this for people when they listen to the tracks. But also, it’s a point that you can feel amazing. It’s in your perception of your significance. Sometimes it’s the world around you that makes you feel small. Dreams are always a reminder that the opposite is also true. So it’s supposed to be an uplifting message at the end.”

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran

To be clear, at no point does Pools of Colour look, sound, or feel like a Master’s Thesis on quantum physics or philosophy.

junodream’s ruminations are down-to-earth and relatable, concerned more with how we live our lives in the moment. They dive into themselves – their stories, observations, experiences, and emotions – to build a collection of songs that ring honest and true for them as both individuals and a single unit.

“The music that we love and is so clearly us is this dreamscape music,” Rea beams. “It’s got a hint of rock, but it’s dream rock music really. Dreamscape textures – the big long eerie guitars, which are more like whale sounds or seagulls or whatever – that’s always been a staple of the ‘dreaminess,’ having this quite central core almost trip-hop vibe, which is why there’s a lot of blending natural drums along with more custom loops out of Jake (our drummer) recording, and then mashing them up through various machines. It has these hints of trip-hoppy elements, a lot of guitars morphing… It’s so tempting just to go really guitar-y the whole time. One thing that we realized that is ‘junodream,’ as well as the sort of spaciness of the sounds themselves, is that we as a group of friends, as people, have a real likening to melody. As a listener, my ears naturally will be drawn to melodic stuff, and we all, to different degrees, really share that love of melody.”

“So what this album is, is us not trying to overcomplicate things for the sake of trying to be clever. It’s just about the melody and the feeling of it, really; melody-, harmony-focused, and then a soundscape for all to sit in.”

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran

Channeling everyday moments and deep philosophical musings into simple, dreamy music sounds like a tall order, yet it came naturally for junodream.

From the churning opener “Fever Dream” and the ethereal, cinematic eruption “The Beach” to the warm and wondrous title track, the moody, grooving “Close Encounters,” the hypnotic “Happiness Advantage,” and beyond, Pools of Colour proves an utterly enchanting and altogether intoxicating adventure from end to end.

“My favorite one is ‘Happiness Advantage,’ mainly because I had just absolutely nothing to do with the actual creation of the song, but more the lyrics for me,” Vyvyan laughs. “For me, that song is a smattering of lyrics and it’s just such a vibe. I first heard it when I was going through a sort of pretty rough time, in a sort of field in Brighton, and the words just came there. They’re about someone who’s sadly not with us anymore, so for me, it puts me in that sort of bubble of feeling like they’re there again when I listen to that one. It’s sentimental.”

If I laid my head on your metal shoulder
Would it be too much or not enough?
I was feeling numb in your hideaway
When it dawned on me in the pouring rain
That the thing you know isn’t all you see
And the here and now
Ain’t meant for me or you
Yeah, I’ll see you in your hideaway
Yeah, I’ll see you soon

Rea’s favorite is the album’s softer, gently stirring penultimate track, “Lullaby.” “I’m a big fan of soundtrack and cinematic-style music. ‘Lullaby’ does what it says on the tin, but it’s long and incredibly melodic. All sorts of melodies and scary strings in there. I really like listening to that.”

For those looking for an instant hook into this album, Vyvyan recommends listening to the five-minute banger “The Beach,” Pools of Colour’s lead single, which he says represents a state of calm – where feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression are washed way in the ocean. “It encapsulates a lot of those elements [of what the album feels and sounds like],” he says. “It incorporates some of those trip-hop beats, but with the washy guitars, a mixture of intimate and big choruses. It’s got basically everything that the album represents.”

Heavy, never mind the way I seem
From here to the sea,
There’s a place for me
I feel, feel alone, anenome.
I’ve been waking up in my sleep
Head up, head out
I wish I could take to the beach
Head up, head out
I wish I could swim out of reach.
– “The Beach,” junodream

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran

Pools of Colour takes its title from the song of the same name, which is another band favorite and musical highlight – situated in the middle of the album.

“We’ve always kind of been a bit skeptical of tech billionaires,” Vyvyan explains. “They’re all quite weird. I saw this video once on YouTube which really kind of freaked me out, actually, that the monkey that they used in Neuralink testing – Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain implant – died. I didn’t really know why that was newsworthy, but then I looked into it, and there was a video of this monkey playing pong by blowing into a tube and the brain chip was picking it up and figuring out how to use it. So that was really, really freaky, but that was where we were going. And then there was announcements that there would be human trials, and I was suddenly thinking, “What if it kills a human being?” And that was the idea of the song. It’s supposed to be about the first patient who gets it, kind of like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, gets the golden ticket to have it, is ignoring what happened with the monkey – called Pager, which is a lyric in the song – and warnings from the person’s mother. But they arrogantly go in, get the procedure done, then they become the toast of the town. All the newspapers want a slice of it, but the process makes them go blind, and all they can see are pools of colour.”

“The idea of that links back to the idea of the album: You think you want these things that are thrown up around you. You want the car because the car is advertised to you. You suddenly want the phone because the phone’s there. You want the Neuralink because you can have it. But if you slow down and simplify things, life can actually be more beautiful. The person in this story wants to be advanced, but they end up being more simple – and at the end of the song, they’re going, ‘It’s quite a weight off my mind, it’s quite a weight off my shoulders.’ It’s supposed to be that reflection that if you slow down you’ll see the pools of colour in the world.”

I thought I was swimming
Through heaven’s eye
In the waiting room
Reading up about Pager
Until my mother cried
I hope I’ll see her soon
I step forward, you go backward
Now I think in pools of colour

junodream have crafted in their first album a dynamic and compelling adventure for the mind, the body, and the soul.

Ultimately, Pools of Colour is best experienced as one cohesive, cathartic journey from start to finish – its highs best accentuated by its lows, and vice versa. A record of space, alienation, and wonder, it invites us to delve headfirst into life’s deep end, and to stay there a while, soaking up what it means to be alive, to be connected to ourselves and others, and where we’re all heading on this big blue marble hurtling through space.

“I have moments in the songs that make me feel like I’m nowhere, in a good way. And I would just want for people to have a moment like that somewhere in the album,” Ed Vyvyan shares. “I would say that it’s something that we’ve made to be listened all the way through, too. I hope people can have time to do that, and I think that’ll increase the chances that they’ll have a moment where they feel in a dream. That’s what I want. In terms of what we want, well, we just sort of made it for ourselves, but our fans are so similar to us. We’ve got an extremely dedicated bunch of fans who are fast becoming our friends through events that we’re putting on, and ’cause we know them, I think they’ll enjoy it. We finally found something that we wanted to say, and so that’s good enough for me.”

junodream © Barney Curran
junodream © Barney Curran

“I’m personally finding it increasingly rare, being in music, to actually listen to music and have moments of really enjoying it without having that horribly analytical mind going on,” Tom Rea adds. “You’re either listening to the production or you’re listening to the part… it’s almost ruining the magic of listening to something. But occasionally you just find these artists or songs where it’s like listening to music when you’re really young again, where you can just listen to it completely freely and it feels amazing to listen to. Hopefully for some people out there, this album will provide a moment like that where they can actually just feel like, ‘Oh yeah, this is great.’”

“This is an album with imperfections,” Vyvyan concludes. “We’ve only just started really our journey, but that’s the point. It’s supposed to be a truer reflection of who we are and what we wanna say. And we’re okay with that. We hope that makes it resonate better.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside junodream’s Pools of Colour with Atwood Magazine as Tom Rea takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s debut album!

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:: stream/purchase Pools of Colour here ::
:: connect with junodream here ::
Stream: ‘Pools of Colour’ – junodream

:: Inside Pools of Colour ::

Pools of Colour - junodream

— —

Fever Dream

Meaning: a dystopian portrayal of a future in the Metaverse. The narrator is an omniscient figure, like Mark Zuckerberg, lulling his subjects into hypnosis.
Dougal and I are a little bit obsessed with sinister tech people. How and why are software developers from a bubble in Silicon Valley – so far removed from the rest of the world – in control of how normal people interact? Are we subservient to lizard people? Maybe we’re conspiracy theorists, but we just wanted this song to feel like a sort of digital plainsong for us braindead zombies. When the metaverse consumes us, maybe you’ll hear this song on the jukebox of the digital dive bar and smile. See you there for a pint amigos.

Death Drive

Meaning: a critique of the self-destructive stupidity of humankind and the warmongers that create tragedy. 
When we were developing this song, there was a line before the first one you hear on the track. “On a blue dot” […in the corner of a wide open space]. I remember seeing the Blue Marble (the first photograph of the Earth from space) for the first time at university and thinking it was just incredible. It was taken in 1972 and literally changed the entire way human beings contextualised the world (apart from Flat Earthers, you just can’t reason with that logic). The Earth just looks so perfectly contained and definite against the vacuum of total black surrounding it. Miles of emptiness. At that moment, it really made me feel so alone.
Sometimes you have these big, deep daydreams which get interrupted by something totally boring. Like a snot-nosed kid screaming at you for a Ch’King Deluxe Chicken Sandwich. I do it almost daily, but it’s so easy to forget our shared context amongst all the mind-numbing corporate triviality we’ve created in our world. Whenever we lose sight of that context, we seem to do terrible things to each other. Putin is one of the worst and most evil examples of this.
Do we get overly wrapped up in our differences because, as one collective human group, our ‘Other’ is this vast empty darkness? Maybe we shouldn’t think about it in that way. I’m heavily paraphrasing Alan Watts here, but space is not “just” a negative event. Space can’t be dismissed and if you don’t recognise that you can be tricked by people into being scared of the unknown. But the light is based on the dark just as much as the dark is based on the light. So, maybe we shouldn’t be so afraid.  Maybe then we’d stop doing terrible things to each other. Who knows.

The Beach

Meaning: The Beach resembles a state of calm, where feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression are washed way in the ocean. 
Musically, this song is a hybrid. I had a verse (which involves one chord more or less, I’m no guitar player…) and Dougal had a chorus. We sort of smashed them together and the song was born.
The lyrics came months later. I was on a beach in Aberystwyth with some friends. Llanrhystud beach, it is not a forgiving place. Grey stone as far as the eye can see. It was overcast and windy. We were sheltering behind a rock wall we had built up so the BBQ didn’t die out. I had recently received some sad family news and was feeling out of sorts, I didn’t really want to be there. I got up and just started walking along the coast. The way Llanrhystud curves makes the horizon seem much closer than it really is and I found that out after about 40 minutes of walking into the distance. I think my friends called out to me at the start of this weird quest, but I just had to reach the end of the curve. Each step away, I started to feel a little lighter in my chest. Eventually, I got to the furthest point where the shore stuck into the sea and stood there, alone, looking out as the sun peaked a bit from behind the clouds. I felt peaceful then.
That’s basically what “The Beach” is about. Its about finding a place of mental calm, a metaphor for the real calm I found on Llanrhystud. I joke at gigs that I hate that beach, but really it was the perfect remedy.

Sit in the Park

Meaning: willing for a connection with someone but always being kept an atom’s width away.
Dougal was getting into this book called “A Small History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. It lists a number of things that are uncomfortable to think about, mainly to do with scale. Like, all the visible stuff in our solar system including the sun, planets and a billion asteroids fill up less than one trillionth of the available space. If the Earth was the size of a pea, Pluto would be a mile and a half away. A human body contains 20 million kilometres of coiled DNA. This sort of stuff.
We wanted to write a song which compared the scales of the micro and the macro. Both are equally as daunting in scale. It just depends on your perspective.
The best bit from the book is this. The distance between two negatively charged particles – an angstrom (we use that word in the song) – means you can never actually touch anything. You are always an angstrom away. We thought this would be a good metaphor for a relationship where you are not feeling as close as you want to be. It’s almost an anti-love song, negatively charged perhaps. I love you but you won’t let me close enough.

Pools of Colour

Meaning: the story of a patient receiving the first human Neuralink. However, it makes them go blind. Now, all they see are pools of colour. 
As I mentioned before, we’re a little bit obsessed with the sinister applications of tech. This time Elon Musk. His brain implant (Neuralink) is beautiful and terrifying in equal measure. Beautiful in that it can help paralyzed people to walk again. Terrifying in terms of the unintended consequences. I saw an article a few years ago about the early animal trials. The company managed to get a monkey, Pager, to play Pong with just his brain. They gave Pager a smoothie as a reward. Everyone praised Neuralink, but brushed under the rug the fact that poor Pager died in the next trial. We talk about Pager in the song: “reading up about Pager until my mother cried”.
Pools of Colour is sort of an allegory about being careful what you wish for with technology. The negative externalities are unknown. Our main character gets swept up in the excitement of the new technology and how it will revolutionise their life. They sneer at people who couldn’t afford the procedure (“I step forward, you go backwards”), they want to be famous. But it’s a monkey’s paw. Pager’s paw. Yes, you’ll get to see the world in a totally different way, different to everyone else. You’re famous, but you’re now blind. All you can see are pools of colour.
In a sense, the monkey’s paw helps the character to simplify their outlook (“It’s quite a weight of my shoulders”). The beauty of just living (“It’s quite a weight off my mind”). It’s sort of a metaphor for the whole album, now I think about it.
We wrote this song before all the AI stuff started getting really hot. I guess it feels even more relevant now. We don’t know what the future holds at all.

Close Encounters

Meaning: the story of a drunk driver being abducted by aliens, but no-one will believe him
When we first decided we wanted to write an album, we wanted to do base it around a concept. It was supposed to be about a conspiracy theorist, a sort of QAnon, Flat Earth, Tin Foil type. We thought maybe the character could be an extension of someone we’d referred to in previous songs and music videos (Colin Quits, see Limiter and Easy Life for clues). We ended up expanding a bit beyond that remit in the end, but we always had the idea we’d do an alien abduction story.
I don’t know if the lyrics are particularly sympathetic to the character. He does get abducted, but he’s also an arrogant and reckless drunk driver. We reckon he’s condescendingly speaking to people at an AA meeting in the song (“You’re so inclined to sit and whine, but I don’t care for drugs”). Maybe if he wasn’t such a reprehensible idiot, people would be more inclined to listen to his tale…..hint hint.

Happiness Advantage

Meaning: loss and coming to terms with it. Finding some kind of peace in shared memories and places.
I’m not going to say much on this, because it’s quite a personal. It’s a tribute to a person who I cared for very deeply and is no longer with us. He was a huge influence on me, personally and musically. Tom and Dougal had written the outline for this song months before. I first listened to it in the place where he used to go for peace and the lyrics came from there.

Kitchen Sink Drama

Meaning: a window into an abusive and toxic relationship. Pure claustrophobia and desperation.
This one needs little explanation. Many of us have been in this situation and it feels like the walls are closing in from every direction. But very, very slowly. Its excruciating for a long period of time, and then it just boils over. You can have these earth shatteringly horrible arguments in the most mundane of places. Your bedroom, the park, your kitchen. This song is an expression of that anger and sadness, wrapped in a junodream bow. By this point in the album, we’ve moved beyond the high level thoughts about society, space and scale. We’re in the nitty gritty of the human experience and the emotional voids that are created in the pit of your stomach after something like this can feel every bit as vast and dark as space.


Meaning: anxious insomnia in the city; hearing neighbours partying, cats howling, taking sleeping pills and reading horrifying news on the phone.
We’re from London. It’s a weird place at the best of times, you can sometimes drift into a dangerous autopilot. You sort of lose your sense of self amongst the rush. You’re working towards some sort of goal, but you’re not really sure what it is. You’re dazed, confused, its like someone from the sunken place is trying to remind you not to get caught in a loop, doomscrolling through your phone forever (something we talked about in an early junodream record called ‘Galactica’). Sometimes you just need one thing: silence. Pretty hard to come by in London at night…I would know, I live by a 24-hour McDonalds.

The Oranges

Meaning: the only real and true escapism comes from your dreams
This is going to sound a bit crazy and it is. But basically, when I was at university I started having lucid dreams (was probably sleeping too much). I was fascinated by it, it felt absolutely crazy to me that you could even do it. I tried to find ways of doing it more regularly, so I bought an app which blasted blue like at your face 30 minutes after you fell asleep. I think it was trying to trigger your eyes into doing something, I don’t really know. They recommended you write down whatever you dream about and, if you’re lucky, the dream might happen again but then you’d now it was a dream.
I have a trigger dream which let’s me know. I’m standing on an empty, dusty street which runs through a Moroccan village (I must’ve been to this place once, but I can’t remember). In the far distance, at the far end of the street, an old man is slowly walking towards me. He’s pushing a large wooden cart full of oranges. When he gets closer towards me, my childhood best friend runs across the road laughing and accidentally knocks the wooden cart on its side. The oranges tumble out, but instead of rolling, they bounce in slow motion. Like floating bubbles of orange good. They slowly move off in different directions, down very steep staircases along the side of the road and into doors. I know I’m dreaming at this point and then I follow the oranges to wherever they want to take me. If there are any psychoanalysts out there, please don’t read into this. I seriously don’t want to know what its all about.
Overall the song is about blissful escapism and creativity. It’s sort of what junodream means to us as a concept. It’s a creative outlet, separate from the stresses of this weird, amazing, terrible world. It’s the moment of uplift in the album, that’s why it comes right at the death.

— —

:: stream/purchase Pools of Colour here ::
:: connect with junodream here ::

— — — —

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