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Rolling out of bed 30 seconds before our sit-down via Zoom, dreamcastmoe is a vision in sleep attire. Even before coffee, his energy is infectious as he discusses his hometown of Washington DC and the role it’s played in his approach to music. “Everybody wants to make it from their city. Me being from Washington is a testament: this city, my city, is all about vibes, and we move as one.”

The artist, real name Davon Bryant, exudes a steady combination of confidence, creativity and calmness, qualities which bleed into his transfixing interlacings of funk, soul and dance music. After cutting his teeth playing drums in church, Bryant has gone on to build a loyal following with a sound that draws from his deep reserves of melody and mood, not to mention his honeyed falsetto. While his debut release Liquid Deep arrived on DC label PPU back in 2017, it was last year’s Lamont EP – a collection of songs imbued by the intoxicating chill of West Coast G-funk, 90s R&B and even deep house – that solidified his status as an artist-to-watch. His latest EP, After All This – released this July – expands on the ideas put forward on Lamont, all while capturing a sense of effortless movement and flow. This is best exemplified on highlight You Had Better Deliver, as its reverb-laden keys glide atop the contrasting skittering beats.

It’s a step up for the dreamcastmoe project, staking out artistic territory that feels wholly Bryant’s own. “The EP is a testament to moving in the right direction,” he reflects. “Which is a weird statement because who knows what the right direction is exactly. It’s just the question of, are you ready to start moving in the direction that you need to be moving in?”

For Bryant, at least one signpost came in the form of Donny Hathaway, the American soul singer, songwriter and keyboardist who gifted the world songs like This Christmas and Someday We’ll All Be Free before his tragic death in 1979. While the two artists are generations apart, Bryant is inspired by the way Hathaway resisted categorisation in the 60s and 70s. “His ability to lock into a soul space without people labelling his music as R&B was magic,” Bryant says. “His sound travelled differently and still does until this day, it’s timeless.”

For now though, Bryant’s own plans are relatively grounded. He harbours a dream of running a sandwich shop, making small plates for people in his community. “I really want to build a space where my people can come and get a $7 sandwich. I envision myself eating my favourite sandwich – a turkey ciabatta with a little bit of guacamole – in my shop and just chilling,” he contemplates in typical dreamcastmoe style. “Do you know how vibey that would be?”

Sounds like: Future-facing 90s R&B
Soundtrack for: Hotboxing your car late at night
File next to: Adina Howard / KAYTRANADA
Our favourite song: You Had Better Deliver
Where to find him: soundcloud.com/dreamcastmoe

After All This is out now via In Real Life