Neon Dreams are in, what they refer, to as the second chapter of their musical career. After attending a healing retreat in Arizona, frontman Frank Kadillak was able to truly connect to the power of songwriting and its ability to connect to others.
Since then, they’ve gone on to reach 20 million streams and gain millions of fans. The Halifax born duo’s hit song High School Dropout put their name on stations across the country as 2019’s summer anthem. Now in the midst of their Canadian tour, Neon Dreams will make a stop at the Algonquin Commons Theatre on November 9th.
You are currently on tour for your debut album, “Sweet Dreams till Sunbeams”.
What is different about the songs on this album compared to your earlier work?
We had a full album at the beginning of the year, and then I decided to scrap the whole thing – I just got rid of it all, deleted all the songs. The next thing I did was get rid of my apartment – I lived like a nomad and travelled the world for the next 2 months to learn as much as I could about people and from different cultures. I went to Korea, Denmark, Germany, England and then at some point I went to this healing retreat in Arizona – I thought that’s what I needed to help my mind heal a bit. They taught me how to peel back the layers of who I am as a human.
As kids we have this pure intensity and as we grow older, we suppress all these bad things that happen to us – we block it out and don’t think of it again – that’s who you are as a person. They got me to confront all of the bad things that happened to me in life and I realized that I went through some weird, bad things and I had just blocked it out. Now that I have confronted it all, I am okay with it and I have all these stories to tell people.
I should be a horrible human after all of the things that have happened to me, and for some reason I am positive, so I want to get that message out – that if you keep the hope, keep the faith, something positive will happen. I can promise you that. I am a product of that. I wanted to let people know that I went through some crazy stuff, so that in case anyone else is going through something and thinks no one else has – you aren’t alone. That’s why this music is different now – I’m thinking about people, not about myself.
I want to sing about what people are going through because music is for the people. If music is going to affect people’s daily lives then I want to be consciously trying to make their day better, not worse. Before I just made songs for myself, now I make them for others.
The album includes your single “High School Dropout”, which was inspired by your struggles in high school.
What message did you hope to send to fans with this song?
The message isn’t to drop out of school! (Laughs) I was chilling in my AirBNB one day just thinking about life randomly and I thought, wait a second, I don’t think that anyone knows anything about me or how I got to where I am and how I am doing music like this.
I was in special classes in school – I actually failed English, which made me fail school, but I ended up getting pushed through. I just wanted to inspire people who aren’t doing well in school to find a better way. Yeah, I failed school, but I was pushed through and I worked at college, but I still couldn’t learn like everyone else – I didn’t feel smart. I decided to drop out, which was a hard thing because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, but then I started teaching myself things.
I started surrounding myself with people who were really positive and people that were doing things that I wanted to do. I figured out how to get to where I am now just from observation and using my gut feelings. I realized I am not logically smart – I can’t deal with numbers and all that – but I am emotionally smart.
If you think you are a failure because you aren’t doing well in school – you’re not – you are emotionally smart. My post on Instagram about this went crazy, I had so many kids reach out telling me how much it meant to them. There are so many kids who even contemplate suicide over their grades – I had friends like that. Life is life, and you can find a way – school is not everything. I just wanted to let people know – one size doesn’t fit all. The message of the song is that there is more than one way to succeed in life.
Let’s talk about your tour, which started in Newfoundland on August 16th and has you driving coast-to-coast this fall. How are you liking touring through Canada?
I love it. This is the first time I am seeing people take in our songs and yell them back at us. It’s happened with a song before, but never with an entire album – it’s so different. It makes me so happy – it makes me feel like I am doing something right for the first time in my life – it’s really fun. Canada is beautiful place – if you haven’t driven across it, you have to do it once.
What can fans expect from your show – how would you describe your dynamic on stage?
It feels like a stadium show with 6 people on stage, but really there are only 2 of us (laughs)! There are 4 instruments on stage, and we hop around on them. We grew up playing in so many bands and Adrian is a genius playing the instruments. We are probably going to add 2 more instruments the longer our sets get. We have really high energy because we grew up on rock and roll!
You will be in Ottawa on September 21st, do you have any memories in Ottawa?
We played Glo Fair before – that was wild – and a few other spots. Every time we go to Ottawa it’s always good memories.
Later this fall you will join Tyler Shaw and Loud Luxury on stage. What are you most excited for performing with them?
I’m most excited to make memories! When you tour with other people you really get to know them – it’s more than their music – it’s their personality – that’s something that not everyone gets to experience from artists they enjoy listening to. I love both of their music, so I am excited to hang out with them and see their life from a different perspective.
What does life look like for you on tour? Any special routine or things you like to do?
Every night is different, but normally we do 30 minutes of meditation or something to relax before we get on stage to get us in the zone – like a mantra. You know when you are meeting someone for the first time, and you get butterflies? The nerves are like 10x more when you are about to get on stage. (Laughs) I am always nervous – but as soon as I get on stage, it goes away. Playing the shows is a great energy exchange with the crowd – if you don’t give it – they won’t give it back.
When you have some home time in Halifax, what do you like to do?
We do all the fun stuff (laughs). Our producer, who used to be in the band, just got married and I was the best man. My first wedding, first time as a best man so that was a lot of fun. We like to do nature boy stuff – ATV-ing across the countryside and white-water rafting. Nova Scotia is beautiful so it’s great to explore.
When you look back on your careers as artists, what is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?
I would tell myself don’t worry about anything anyone else is saying – as long as your happy, keep going forward. Your dreams are important, you should protect your dreams always. When I first started in the band, I was really awkward – it was just a dream I had and people would tell my bandmates they should kick me out! So, after I heard that I was like, “No, this is mine!” and I worked and got better and better.
What is one piece of advice that you’ve received in your career that you’ll never forget?
The people I met that changed my life – they are just wizards at life. They asked me one thing; “Who do you listen to?” and this flipped a switch. They proceeded to ask, “Do you listen to someone who has done everything that you want to do in life, or do you listen to someone that has never done it, but says “this is how you do it”?” That changed my life. I started listening to everyone who has impacted me and who I wanted to be like, and I got so much knowledge and it really helped me.