Portland talent Dean Ford has risen from an up-and-coming star to seasoned talent, honing the love for music he has nurtured since the age of 15 to build an intricate world of groovy soundscapes for us to lose ourselves in.
Spanning from lush dance pop to vibrant rock stylings, his upcoming EP Dream Fever is a showcase of his carefully crafted artistry and easy charisma, delving into the isolation of the pandemic, which kept him from the stage where he feels most at home.
In conversation with Earmilk, he delves into the inspiration behind his latest single “CRZMR,” how his music changed amid the pandemic, his achievements, bucket list and more.
Tell us a bit about the message/inspiration for the latest single “CRZMKR” and the music video for it?
The idea for “CRZMKR” came from my producer, Bleu. We went through a list of potential song title ideas, one of those was “Crazymaker” – a person who manipulates others by putting them in lose-lose situations. That immediately caught my attention. We agreed it worked great as a hook and explored the concept further in the lyrics. With the video, I wanted a visual that showed a transition from normalcy into madness. I was heavily inspired by psychological horror movies, hoping to add a layer of tension and intrigue to the storytelling.
A lot of your new music was written inspired by the isolation of the pandemic, how did the experience influence your creativity and did it cause the music to change?
Oh totally! Prior to the pandemic, I was regularly touring with my Prince tribute act and hadn’t written much of my own music in years. The time at home gave me an opportunity to step back and rediscover a part of myself that had been dormant for a while. It really allowed me to just listen to music for the joy of it and let my creativity flow.
You seem to have known your path was music from a young age, what does your art mean to you?
Music is my language. It’s always been the best way for me to express myself. Music isn’t just something I do, it’s who I am.
How has your sound and lyrical approach evolved over the years?
I’ve gained a lot of experience, so there’s more to sing about and more tools to work with. When I was starting out, I was more focused on melody than the words. But I’ve learned both are important. I want my lyrics to say something worth listening to. As far as my sound, I have a very eclectic taste in music and I’m always trying to find out what’s next.
Personally, what's the most enjoyable part of the music making process for you and what’s the most challenging?
I absolutely love the whole creative process. I probably have the most fun working on and recording vocal harmonies. The most challenging part for me has always been the lyrics, but once I’ve got a solid concept, it’s really just about filling in the gaps.
What are three things on your musical/career bucket list and what are three things you’re proud of having achieved?
Three things on my bucket list… 1.) I’d love to write and produce songs for other artists. 2.) Definitely want to work with Max Martin. 3.) Tour all over the world. Three things I’m proud of 1.) Performing on stage with Dr. Fink of Prince & The Revolution. 2.) Opening for Panic! At The Disco at my favorite venue in my hometown. 3.) Actually being about to turn my lifelong passion into a career.
Finally if you had to pick one song to capture how your life is going right now, what would that be and why?
Definitely “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John. I’ve been through the ringer and despite the highs and lows I’ve experienced, I’m still standing.