The Creation of Dream Wonderland
As a music composer, I usually hum little tunes I’ve made up on the spot, and I find this often happens when I’m walking. When my daughter and son were young I did a lot of walking - pushing the pram down the local streets, passing by the river, strolling through the park.
It was on one of these walks, in early 2012, that I wrote what would become the lullaby ‘Seasons’.
Autumn was coming and the leaves were changing colour. I was still in awe that these two little
people had entered my life and turned it upside down completely, and yet all around me the
world was still turning and the seasons were still changing. I hadn’t written anything for a
while so the creative juices were flowing and I recorded the song for my children,
Maddie and Callum, in my small home studio.
I enjoyed the process so much that I wrote another, ‘The River’, after we talked one day about where water comes from. As I produced the track Maddie sat on the floor and drew me a picture of the song, which still sits in my studio today.
'The River', illustrated by Maddie
I began to think about how much she enjoyed these two songs and what a thrill she got from knowing I’d written them for her and Callum, but more importantly how relaxed she always became listening to them. It was then that I had the idea of writing more, an album of lullabies, to help them both get ready for bedtime. But not only that, I thought of creating an imaginary world that Maddie and Callum would go to when they went to sleep, somewhere fun, full of wonder, so they would really WANT to go to bed and look forward to the pre-sleep routine. And so I wrote the song ‘Dream Wonderland’, which would also become the title for the whole project.
I wanted the album to be one continuous soundscape, with no sudden pauses between tracks. I always found my two would wake in those 2-second gaps between songs, suddenly conscious of their surroundings, wanting desperately to stay awake even though every fibre of their being was exhausted. So each track in Dream Wonderland merges seamlessly into the next and as the album progresses, so the songs become calmer and calmer until the final track, ‘The End’, a 10-minute instrumental medley of all that has come before, leads them to sleep; to their very own Dream Wonderland.
Abigail with Maddie and Callum in 2009
As the writing of the album progressed I began to think of Dream Wonderland visually. What would it look like? What would you do there? Who would you meet? And I developed the idea of a hero child with a favourite toy, an elephant, going on exciting adventures in Dream Wonderland. Based loosely around my daughter and her favourite toy elephant, Diddy, I began to plot their journey through the album. Hiring Darren Pryce to illustrate my vision for the song ‘Dream Wonderland’ got the visual ball rolling, and I have since tinkered with my own sketches.
Dream Wonderland, illustrated by Darren Pryce
What will our Dreamer and Diddy do next? Well, that is something Tracey and I want to continue developing; a new collection of songs, a picture book, more products for the Dream Wonderland brand, maybe even an animation down the track.
From that very first song written for my own two precious ones nearly 4 years ago, Dream Wonderland has grown into something I’m very proud of and I hope it will delight and inspire children (and parents) everywhere.