Dräger “Five Stars”
Dräger, the dreamy synth pop project of frontman Spencer Draeger, has just released a great new single called “Five Stars”. We sat with him to discuss the inspiration for the song, the effects of algorithmic rating systems on our consumer habits, and more.
photos by Marcus Cooper
CELL VISION: Tell us about your new song "Five Stars". What was the inspiration?
DRÄGER: The inception of this song came from an unexpected 10 minute wait for a cab before I was supposed to go out. I’m starting to think we do our best work when we aren’t thinking. It’s so ironic and offensive when you think about how inspiration is lazy. I guess the true answer to what inspired Five Stars is there was no conceivable inspiration other than the fact that sometimes when you have no time do anything “worthwhile” you get inspired. While waiting those few magical minutes I think I basically wrote “Five Stars.”
CELL VISION: What is the song about?
DRÄGER: The song examines how our decade’s algorithmic rating systems curve the influence of humanity. It’s strange how people can’t even make up their own minds and would rather rely on some stranger’s opinion instead. I think a lot about how when I’m just going out to dinner or to see a movie or to listen to a song, we literally check a rating or some irrelevant number before we do anything. Two weeks ago I was reading about how they were going to cancel John Schaefer’s Soundcheck [music radio show on New York City NPR station WNYC], but then decided not to because of the outrage. It posed some great questions around the idea that when algorithms are so good at catering to what we like, we aren’t being challenged to try new things. These systems and ratings are changing everything about how we make our decisions and how we experience the world.
CELL VISION: Any funny stories from the making of the record?
DRÄGER: They all have an unexpected moment that somehow gave them life, like they were all just my best mistakes.
CELL VISION: You've been traveling a lot the past few months, what has that been like?
DRÄGER: I feel like traveling puts the markers of existence into our heads. I shot a few fashion campaigns between LA and Paris and had a blast with my girlfriend. Somehow getting on a plane feels like I’m moving the needle and being productive, especially in conversation with others and in reviewing the year. People think you’re doing a lot and there’s just more to talk about, but I think those 10 min in time waiting for that Uber and beatboxing over a synth groove may have served more purpose in how I’d like to spend my life.
CELL VISION: What have you been listening to lately?
DRÄGER: I keep coming back to George Clanton, he’s always in and out of my rotation. He has had a few projects but now just goes by his own name and I can’t say what is but he just nails the emotion specific to each song and his melodies are beautiful. It’s been about 4 years of listening to him and that first listen magic never left. I also just discovered this guy called Dope Lemon, his music always makes me feel like I’m coming down in some late hour off a long nigh. Its sexy and makes you feel like you’re walking in slow motion. I also love this super dreamy synthwave artist called Voyager that really puts my mind at ease. A local band recently blew me away called RIBS that really fits in with what I’m doing. Also, I used to play with this band called The Undercover Dream Lovers when I had my last band and their new single “Plane Ride” is amazing. But yeah I just updated my Spotify playlist, check it!
CELL VISION: Your music has been connecting with a lot of fans outside of the US, do you make an effort to connect with non-American audiences?
DRÄGER: Yeah, I feel like I need to learn Spanish at this rate. Every fan is important no matter what, and just one person can change everything. Sometimes when I look at a lot of the trending music domestically or on the billboard charts nothing really ever sounds exciting to me. A lot of friends’ bands, and even bigger indie bands, are now finding more success in Central and South American than the usual US, Canadian, and European markets. I think Mexico City might be one the most artistically geared cities in the world right now. I also just saw Kevin Parker from Tame Impala specifically call out the fact he would make more of an effort to get down to Brazil, Chile, Peru and other places in Central and South America, where there are huge fanbases for alternative music. Sometimes it can feel disheartening to see where the style of music I make lands in the popular American consciousness, but it is inspiring that so many other people write me everyday asking me to come to places I’ve never been. Through technology, and frankly, a lot of what I guess I talk about specifically in “Five Stars”, comes this really cool global society we can actively take part in as musicians.
Dräger’s latest single “Five Stars” is out now. You can listen, stream or purchase via the link below:
Read more about Dräger: