Track by Track: Hembree - It’s a Dream!

Track by Track: Hembree – It’s a Dream!

Kansas City’s Hembree recently release their second album It’s a Dream! it’s a record about “getting freaky even while you’re freaking out.” It finds the quintet pushing their sound—first glimpsed on 2019’s debut House on Fire to new levels. Possessing a funky looseness, illuminating synths and hip-shaking grooves redolent of the likes of early MGMT or Empire of the Sun, its paired with Isaac Flynn’s kaleidoscopic melodies and playful lyrics that juxtapose the anxieties and joyousness of life. Today, the band talk us through their record track by track.

Reach Out

It’s the thesis song of the whole album. It’s about how society treats the oppressed, and how people are too embarrassed and neglected to ask for help. The character in the song has lost touch with reality, which could happen to anyone. This song was one of those songs that just kind of appeared out of nowhere. I was working on a different song, and I started to record some bass. As I was getting my levels set, I stumbled onto the “Reach Out” bassline. I immediately abandoned the song I was working on, and started working on what became ‘Reach Out’. I think because the initial riff happened in such a playful and organic way, that led me to wanting to keep the whole production in that realm. Hence, the “Hey kid, whatcha lookin’ at?” sample, and the gliding synth. I was also listening to a good amount of Pink Floyd at the time, and I always loved how they combined some disco grooves with funky and big guitars. It was the first song we finished for the new record, and it was very clear it was going to set the tone for the whole album.

It’s a Dream!

Believe it or not, I wrote this song before the pandemic, but I think we could all tell things were feeling strange! I was channelling the balance of feeling like everything was completely insane while going through the motions of everyday life. Musically this one started as a beat and mandolin riff that our co-producer, e.hillman (of Foreign Fields), sent me in 2017. I just couldn’t find the right inspiration to write to it for nearly three years. It’s like the song was just lingering in my mind until I finally found the right words and melodies for it. It’s strange how songs can take thirty minutes or three years to write. When we were recording it, we felt it needed more voices than just the band, so when Alex’s partner and our great friend, Devynn Carter, was visiting LA we had her join us on the song. That’s the real feel of this record. We wanted to be as collaborative and creative as possible. You know, try to have as much fun as possible while living in such strange times. When it became clear that this song was going to be the title track, I decided to really focus on the narrative of going in and out of reality.

Operators (feat. Bodye)

‘Operators (feat. Bodye)’ is the only song on the album that is directly about 2020. I wrote it right when all of the protests started in the summer, and the chorus in particular is about when the officers, national guard and even some of the city officials would act like they were with the protestors in solidarity, and then turn around and gas and attack them. That’s where the idea of “they’re saying: tell me where you want me to be, tell me what you want and you need, you can tell me” originated from. They were acting like they were there to help, but it was all for show. It all felt almost cartoonishly villainous to me. I wanted to reflect that in the lyrics and in the dark, dance heavy groove of the song. As a band, we had always wanted to collaborate with our great friend, Bodye, as he is one of the most brilliant artists we know. His perspective is always so intelligently thought out, and we knew he would be able to infuse his brilliance into the song. Lastly, it was an absolute delight to work with Henry Solomon (Haim, Thumpasaurus) and have him join us on saxophone for this one. It was an amazing collaboration, and it was so cool to see this song come to life from LA and Kansas City, as we were all tracking remotely from our home studios in the heart of 2020.


The band and I wanted this to serve as a little interlude and breath after the first three tracks on the record. I liked the narrative of waking up from a dream and not really knowing where you’re at in the world. The mood feels like a hazy delirium and the character in the narrative is missing their home.

House on a Hill

The hazy state of mind continues. This song is definitely one of the most introspective songs on the album and is about the feeling of being in limbo– losing yourself and your identity. Just being overwhelmed by the world and trying to find the willingness to persevere. I co-wrote this song with Alex (our guitarist), and the first lyric he had when he sent the initial demo over was “I’m a stranger in my own skin”. I wanted to capture that feeling of not knowing how to carry on, but knowing you have to keep going to find yourself.

I’ll be on Time

This is the first love song on the record. It’s about being with someone and both of you letting go of anxiety and worry because you know you can depend on each other. I love that the record has some slower songs. It sounds ridiculous, but up until this record, we hadn’t done many before. I really enjoy the spectrum of emotion on this album.

Close to Me

Close to Me’ is a song that I had written a few years ago that just kept lingering in my mind. After finishing all the demos for what became, It’s a Dream!, I felt like the record needed a lift and a bit more optimism, so the band and I opened this song up again. It’s a love song through and through with a narrative based in companionship. It’s about devotion to whoever is down to pull you out of the dark, and get you through the strange times and all of life’s struggles — that could be a partner, friend or even your dog. This one’s for the ride or dies :).

I Don’t Believe You

This song gets real wild! I was really into Talking Heads while we were working on the record, and I was feeling inspired by David Byrne’s stream of consciousness style rants he goes on. The character in the song is realizing that the world is completely insane. I was channelling the way that the philosophy of “profit over people” really pits people against each other and is greatly harming our society. At the end of the song the band is yelling “fire in the back!”. You can feel the fire surrounding, but everyone is just carrying on with their daily lives. We wanted the music to match that energy and be a bit reckless. I love Henry Solomon’s sax work at the end of the song.


Another song about the world being unbelievably overwhelming mixed with some self-doubt. It’s about needing to give yourself a break, but everything is just so out of sync. “Every single morning I leave home I need a warning” This is another one I wrote before the pandemic, but I feel like it captures a lot of the anxiety we all felt.


I wrote this after having a panic attack, so it’s interesting that it follows the song ‘Panic‘. It feels like the response to that song. It’s about being in a daze and desperately trying to get back to those that you love. How you can lose yourself in a moment of panic, and how you have to find your way back. Both of the interludes discuss going home. I tend to reference home on the record as a place of peace and stability.


As the listener works their way through the album, I wanted some optimism and relief towards the end of the record. The songs always tend to be a blend of my personal life with some sort of character in a narrative. Throughout the process of making this record, I feel like I became fully happy and content with my life. I also think the band found our most fully realized version of ourselves. This song is about finding relief and just enjoying your time with those that you love. Two of my favorite lyrics: “I don’t want to stay in a heart that only aches.” and “It’s a new wave, invite in.”

It’s Real!

This one is definitely about humanity trying to push its problems aside, but the problems keep catching up to us. I wanted the record to have some social commentary without being too preachy. But I was just thinking about people getting stuck in their routines, going through the motions and pretending that everything will miraculously work itself out.

People in every state

The happiness-depression pendulum

Will stay

Swinging back and forth

We cannot concentrate

We close our eyes


It’ll be the same

But that’s just how we try to disappear

We fear, we fear

Maybe none of this is real

Time To Leave

The closer! This song came together very naturally–  acoustic guitar sitting on the couch. I didn’t want to deviate too far from that initial feeling. I was just enjoying that simple 90s classic chord progression. It feels nostalgic, and musically, it’s like nothing we’ve really done before. Lyrically, this song started from when you see people in a situation you know they need to get out of, but they just keep living in it– immersed in their world and they can’t see out of it. And you want to help them, but you know that ultimately they have to make the choice to remove themselves from the situation. It felt like a proper closer to ending the narrative of the character weaving in and out of reality vs. a dream world.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.