Dylan Von Wagner has the type of name that evokes a nod to a more refined and genteel era as opposed to the creator of a band who has penned an album as heavy-hitting as “Dead Letterbox.” With their latest release, scintillating-rhythms combine with guitar riffs as sick as a killer metal band and Von Wagner’s vocals command attention as he and his four companions perform their versions of “Dance Americana” for your listening pleasure.
Imaginary People was formed in 2013 when Von Wagner decided to leave his job at Miramax and pursue music full time after a previous band break-up the preceding year. He gave up on the 9 to 5 life in favor of learning the guitar and joined forces with “NYC music scene friends of friends” Mark Roth (guitar) Justin Repasky (keys) Kolby Wade (drums) and Bryan Percivall (bass) to begin work on their debut EP that centered around “spy themes.” Von Wagner recalls a “guy in a restaurant on Park Ave from the UN who would always tell these espionage stories and really shady stuff.” The random stranger’s tall tales (or were they?) inspired Von Wagner to pen lyrics that transport the listener to a shadow world where anything is possible.
Music has been ever-present for Von Wagner since stealing a Led Zeppelin box set at a young age, opening his mind to a world beyond the “Simple Life,” the lead track on their new full-length album. Lyrics start with Von Wagner as he lets life “seep into the songwriting” before the band steps in to flesh out the songs. The creative process is never rushed as Imaginary People focus an “annoying amount of time” making sure each song is brought to its fullest potential.
Von Wagner believes that the genesis of a song can sometimes come to you in your sleep and “frustration breeds creativity;” the perfect recipe for a musical journey that is both approachable and interesting. Politics and world occurrences are cleverly woven within the songs but Von Wagner is not a fan of screaming his own point of view through a microphone. He would rather “let the audience decide” and interpret based on their own life experiences as music is not limited to one aspect of humanity. “Dead Letterbox” is a compilation of songs that are “three-dimensional and raw” and on an “organic” level. This is an album that should be a staple in your playlist as each tune exceeds the promise of the one before it, building into a final crescendo with “Stella.” Von Wagner has been toying with the idea of performing the new record in order to let fans experience it as they would at home—a unique treat that most bands forgo in favor of playing the songs that they like to perform. But Imaginary People believes in their new album in its entirety, with a few highlighted favorites like “Agata,” and they want to present a complete experience for their fans.
When asked where he hopes the band will be in five years, Von Wagner gives a simple, poignant answer that clearly defines what this group is all about. “Just doing what we do so we can keep on making records.” Amen to that.
Catch Imaginary People live at Rough Trade on July 29.
Article: Hannah Soule