Premiere: Indulge in “Digital Sleep,” Von Sell’s Surreal Wake-Up Call

Von Sell © 2018

Wake up, wake up… Are you lost in a fantasy, or immersed in another reality? The musical manifestation of a lucid dream, Von Sell’s mesmerizing new single “Digital Sleep” implores us to embrace awareness across the spectrum. Merely being alive is not enough: Our eyes and ears, hearts and minds must be open and in the moment, experiencing existence in real time.

Von Sell - Digital Sleep

Von Sell – Digital Sleep

wake up, lose my broken heart
I will prey no more
Just break away into the sea
with your feet in the clouds
going through this mesmerizing field of blue

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Von Sell’s new single “Digital Sleep” to the world. Born in New York City, raised in Hamburg, Germany and now based in Brooklyn, David Von Sell has, for lack of any better word, redefined our understanding of bedroom pop. Debuting in 2016 with his self-titled EP, the artist blends sounds and meaning to forge a powerfully unique listening experience. He creates that which he finds interesting and stimulating, telling Atwood Magazine, “I always try to take the listener by surprise.”

The second single off Von Sell’s upcoming sophomore EP, “Digital Sleep” finds the electronic musician in a refreshed, rejuvenated state, expanding the scope of his artistry with dazzlingly soulful vocals that melt over a provocative tapestry of sound.

forget me, loosen up your memory
wake up
To the noise
Suspended in your head
to the sun, you’re beautiful
Loosen your grip (and let me go)
let it hurt

Sonically colorful and harmonically buoyant, “Digital Sleep” invites listeners to dwell in its hazy slumber; it is a surreal wake-up call, and a cerebral lullaby all at once. Dive deeper into Von Sell’s new single with Atwood Magazine‘s exclusive interview below, and stream “Digital Sleep,” out now!

Listen: “Digital Sleep” – Von Sell


“Digital Sleep” has such a unique shape and trajectory. How did it come about?

Von Sell: Good question! I’m not sure. I didn’t exactly have a masterplan when writing this song, and certainly didn’t have it all it all mapped out when going into it. I kinda just went where the song took me, including lots of dead ends.

I suppose with every new section I introduce in the song (or in any song I write), I always try to take the listener by surprise. I want every new part to add a new dimension, while still making sure there’s a linear quality to the track and a feeling that it’s driving somewhere and that no section is without purpose.

Can you talk about the ways in which you enhance your voice and expand it through technology?

Von Sell: I’m just really addicted to recording my vocals a bunch of times and then stacking them. Other than that, I always look for ways to fuck with my vocals and almost treat them like an instrument… whether it’s pitching them up or down an octave or chopping them up in some arrhythmic way…

I always try to take the listener by surprise.

What if any external influences shaped your singing here? I feel like I hear glam, pop, soul and more elements throughout; it's quite the diverse, compelling array.

Von Sell: Yeah, I’ve always had an eclectic taste; I can really warm up to any genre. Vocally, Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone have probably influenced me more than anything though!

How does “Digital Sleep” fit into the arc of your sophomore EP?

Von Sell: I hope mostly musically 🙂 What glues these songs together more than anything really, is the timeframe they were written in. I think while I was very much looking for a hybrid sound of electronic and acoustic in my previous EP, I think I’m drifting into a slightly more warped, moody, electronic direction at the moment – what that says about my psyche, I don’t wanna know.

I think I’m drifting into a slightly more warped, moody, electronic direction at the moment

You sing, wake up, wake up, rising to crescendo at the end. What made you decide, this is how to end the song? What impact does that theoretically have on the listener?

Von Sell: I guess I was just afraid that the song would end up drifting a bit. Also I’m usually cautious of being to obvious, I usually like to leave some room for confusion; I suppose I felt it was time to break with that tradition though and really hammer in the theme of the song there in the end again and again. Also, it gave me the chance to play with some harmonies and textures that I didn’t have the guts to use earlier in the tune.

This song reminds me of seeing swarms of people all looking down on their phones, consumed with technology and completely oblivious to the world around. Is that a reaction you were looking for?

Von Sell: Wow! I didn’t know I was being that obvious haha… Well yeah, that’s part of it (and I’m certainly including myself in that observation). I try to see it with as much nuance as possible  – it’s not just about technology to me. I think we’re all constantly struggling to see what’s right in front of us. Being glued to your phone certainly doesn’t help but it’s probably the human condition to begin with. I know that I’m often so busy with myself that I’m never actually with myself. I’ve noticed that the more I obsess about myself, the more distant I grow from myself. It’s a kind of trance, and I constantly have to remind myself to snap out of it, hence the consistent refrain: “wake up.”

I’ve noticed that the more I obsess about myself, the more distant I grow from myself. It’s a kind of trance, and I constantly have to remind myself to snap out of it.

Can you talk about how you actually used technology to admonish others against its slippery slope?

Von Sell: I’m not sure I can, I’m really just observing, not criticizing… and mainly just seeing patterns in myself that I notice in others too. Every generation has their addictions, my generation is addicted to social media… I don’t think that’s a secret, myself included. I once read someone making the analogy to a slot machine, I think that’s pretty accurate. We’ve found new ways to affirm ourselves and our self-worth; it’s like we’ve found a shortcut to confirm our own existence; The fact that what’s being confirmed may have very little to do with us, doesn’t seem to bother us. I’m not that interested in demonizing it, I really just wanna understand it, understand what urge is being satisfied here.

What drove you to make “Digital Sleep” out of cascading layers of sound and why are you drawn to this musical style?

Von Sell: Is it a style? Maybe yeah… I just always try to find new ways of creating textures; perhaps I get carried away at times. These layers are certainly an area where I feel like I can be most original. I think that’s where my inner sculptor can come out best. At least for now. There was probably a moment when writing the song that an opportunity opened up: I somehow – with the ingredients and tools that were at my disposal – saw the chance, to really create a ball of sound, a furious, melancholy whirlwind; and I was curious to explore that sonically. Unapologetically, I hope.

We’ve found new ways to affirm ourselves and our self-worth; it’s like we’ve found a shortcut to confirm our own existence

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Von Sell - Digital Sleep

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com