A portrait of Spencer Dräger of Dräger
photo by Georgia Mitropoulos

photo by Georgia Mitropoulos

Dräger "Wolf"

A guilty-pleasure piece of synth-pop perfection designed for a paranoid future.

by Melissa Castro

Dräger is creating the soundtrack to dance us into the dystopian future. The psychedelic-synth-pop band from singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Spencer Draeger uses sounds of the past to talk about the future, channeling themes of the modern age and taking a satirical approach to the narcissisms and anxiety illuminated through technology. The music is the sweet, sugar infectious synth-pop that makes the medicine go down easy, born of guilty-pleasure afternoons spent in the solitude of Draeger’s Brooklyn apartment, indulging a love of vintage synths and a desire to make something you could dance to. Dräger’s music is that rare successful combination of music you can dance and lose your mind to, but will also make you think.

Dräger’s latest “Wolf” is their second single (their first on Cell Laboratories), following up from their dystopian anthem “Psycho Narcissistic Paranoia.” The song encapsulates everything great about the Dräger sound: Analog synths and vintage drum machines paired with simple melodic guitar. Lyrically, the song is about “the cat and mouse game of dating” says Draeger. “Dating is like a card game and we all respond to social cues and assume everything rather knowing anything. I think anyone who has gone on a date knows how quickly the roles of power change and how sometimes you’d take all the torture just to get her/him in the end.” Built for the dancefloor, Draeger’s soaring vocals glide over the pulsing synths and drums, it is a true piece of pop excellence that will lift the listener into a state of ecstatic bliss.

Dräger - Wolf (Official Audio)

Dräger emerged from the ashes of Spencer Draeger’s previous band, celebrated psych rock band The Midnight Hollow. Draeger wanted to create a clean slate to reflect and develop his changing interests and ideas about songwriting. He was feeling constrained by collaborators who weren’t interested in playing “vulnerable music” or contributing to his guilty pleasure of dancier and synth based stuff. “I just found myself to be at my best when I wrote a song for myself rather than the other members in a band.” says Draeger. “I think art is a selfish act and when it becomes a democracy nothing really gets done.” With the band on hiatus, Draeger spent most of 2018 in his bedroom studio tweaking sounds and writing songs. It’s hard to believe that such a densely layered, edgy, wall of sound could emerge from a tiny bedroom, but in addition to being a talented singer and songwriter, Spencer is an excellent producer.

Spencer Draeger of Dräger playing a synthesizer in the studio
photo by Georgia Mitropoulos

photo by Georgia Mitropoulos

In late 2018 Draeger teamed up with Erik Tonneson of Holy Ghost! to help form a 5 piece band and take to the stage. Playing concerts all over New York City, Dräger has quickly developed a loyal following and a reputation for an intense live show. The city has had a profound influence on Spencer, and he feels at peace amidst the chaos. “I think the night life and the vapid territory of excess that comes with it in a way has added a cynical and sarcastic twist on some songs that are ironically written for a party environment.” says Draeger. He continues, “The spontaneity of just going to the bodega and who you might see on the walk there can turn your whole night around, and sometimes inspire entire songs. I think spontaneity is the key to staying young, most I know here never really grow into a stereotype—they just kind of continue on their own path and that’s beautiful. I continue to play music maybe because of living here.”

Spencer Draeger moved to New York City in 2011 from San Francisco, where he grew up playing in rock ‘n’ roll bands throughout his teen years. He formed The Midnight Hollow upon his arrival, releasing two EPs over the course of 6 years, and receiving rave reviews in Stereogum, Noisey, and Audio Femme among others (Steregum called them a “Band To Watch” describing their sound as “a powerful wail shot through with desperate honesty”). Ultimately though, Spencer Draeger is an introvert at heart, who wants to make people both dance and think. In Dräger, he has created the perfect musical outlet for his creativity, crafting futuristic anthems that are destined to be the soundtrack for a paranoid age.

Drager's single "Wolf" is out now and available anywhere you can buy or stream digital music. You can find Dräger online at the links below.