The alt/pop/synthwave artist Arena has released a cover of Van Halen’s “Dreams” featuring Justin “JD” deBlieck of Ice Nine Kills on guitars.
The song, now available digitally, also features a soundbite from Sammy Hagar, who recently gave the song his stamp of approval.
Here’s what Joey Arena and Justin “JD” deBlieck had to say about covering “Dreams” (from Bravewords):
If I could find the soundtrack to my childhood, no song would compete with ‘Dreams’. I recall hearing it for my first time on the radio in ’93 but never got the name and at the end of The Power Rangers Movie (1995). The song popped up and brought me full circle.
‘Dreams’ both lyrically and musically has something special. As musicians, we all secretly dissect music, we hear things differently than the average listener; this is one song that cannot be tampered with. Sammy is unarguably one of the greatest vocalists and lyrically, this song hits the nail on the head of what it is to write something so “feel good”, as I’d call it and really finds the words that the music is trying to say.
Being that guitar is my forte, it’s one of the first songs I learned in my youth. It’s been with me for so many years and it doesn’t lose its flavor no matter how many times I hear it. They say a “hit” can be re-worked into any genre and still make the same impact. Although my approach is more synth-driven and not fantastically different, I can only hope that I did justice for the Van Halen, Hagar and Synthwave communities.
Justin “JD” deBlieck
When Arena brought the idea of a synth wave project to me I was so thrilled. We both grew up wishing we were teens in the 80’s. Soon after he mentioned he’d like to re-imagine a Van Halen song, it was almost immediately that we knew ‘Dreams’ was going to be the one. As huge fans of the Hagar era it was a no brainer.
With the tragic passing of the legendary Eddie Van Halen we wanted to make the song more of a tribute to his legacy. So we decided with all the quintessential synths, tricks and staples of the synth wave genre, the guitars have to have an upfront presence. As we began redeveloping ‘Dreams’ I remember saying, ‘We need to find a sound byte that connects Sammy and Eddie to this song.’ Low and behold we came across an amazing clip of Sammy sharing how Eddie inspired him to write this very song along many others. This same inspiration spread across the guitarist community like wildfire. So many wanted to play like him, write like him and be like him. For me, it was a true honor to take some of the best parts of his featured solo moments and mix them with a few of my own to keep the feeling alive in this new twist on ‘Dreams.’
We had such an amazing time reworking this into the synth wave genre because the song was already so good. All we had to do was make sure we didn’t leave anything out!
Van Halen “Dreams” Original Blue Angels Video: