Angela and Mark Walley are a creative couple. Additionally, the local husband and wife have seemingly mastered the delicate art of working with one’s significant other, having collaborated on film projects and other creative endeavors since they met in 2003.
Now, the two are using the downtime forced on them by the pandemic to pursue a project, to nurture a shared dream that time hadn’t previously permitted to come to fruition. They are completing and releasing their first album of original music – a dream-pop affair called Loved Ones that scours grief for the residue of hope – under the moniker Dreambored.
The album’s lead single, “Coming Down,” was released on digital platforms July 10. The next single is set to come out Aug. 28, with the full album due in October.
In 2010, the same year they married, the Walleys established Walley Films, an independent film studio dedicated to the “documentation and advocacy of contemporary art in San Antonio and throughout Texas.”
They’ve since done film work for Glasstire, Rice Gallery, Southwest School of Art, Artpace San Antonio, Moody Center for the Arts, and others.
2018 saw the duo release its feature-length documentary directorial debut, Tia Chuck: A Portrait of Chuck Ramirez, which explores the life and work of the titilar San Antonio artist, who passed away in 2010 and left a considerable impact on the local art community.
Playing music together is not new for the pair of self-taught musicians, who performed in a folk rock band in college, have played casually with friends over the years, and have played shows as Dreambored, beginning in 2018.
Angela said Mark, in particular, has honed his instrumental and music production abilities working on the music for the duo’s film projects.
Dreambored, however, was born of Angela’s desire to write and share her own songs, though the new album also features a few songs written by Mark, who plays multiple instruments throughout and handles the production work.
Angela started writing songs, working with just her voice and guitar, about three years ago. As she gained confidence in her abilities, she began to share her songs with Mark, which led the pair to begin this musical project.
Despite playing some shows early on, things have evolved slowly with Dreambored.
“Even though everything we do is collaborative,” Angela said, “for some reason Dreambored took longer to let grow and we never really pushed it. … We are always so busy with other projects and a band project is something I didn’t want to force.”
Now, with Walley Films’ work slowed amid the coronavirus pandemic, the pair have found themselves with the time and perspective needed to see this project through.
“People have had more time to be aware of their emotions and to spend more time in reflection,” Angela said, noting a possible silver lining of the shutdown.
For Angela, who lost her father in late 2018, this time has allowed her to work through feelings of love and grief and to transmute her sense of loss into these songs.
“Songwriting is a great way to pin down an emotion,” she said. “The last several months have revealed to me the importance of creativity as a way to process and express complicated emotions.”
Angela thinks these songs will resonate with listeners, despite the fact that they are quite personal, because she firmly believes that “the more personal something is the more universal it is.”
As they work to finish the album, Angela said the process has followed naturally the same template as their film work: She brings the tracks, written for voice and guitar, and Mark fills them out with instrumentation.
“I’m the storyteller: I do the interviews and write the questions, I edit the interviews and create the backbone of the project,” she said of the couple’s film endeavors. “Mark, then, comes in and fleshes it out: He does cinematography and edits and adds music.”
What’s so different with songwriting, Angela said, is that it is “much more personal, because I am telling my story instead of someone else’s.”
She explained that “there’s more risk” in songwriting, “because you’re more vulnerable,” but also that “typically, with greater risk there is a greater reward.”
For Mark, these past several months have presented “both a challenge and a gift as we’ve shifted focus to our music.”
“The challenge has been in how we reach an audience without playing shows, but it’s been a gift in the amount of time I can devote to producing our first album,” he said.
Angela admits that she was initially “really naive about how much time it was actually going to take to work on the album,” so this extra time to focus on it has been a blessing.
The pair is focused now on finishing out the album, releasing singles, as well as Dreambored’s forthcoming first music video, and planning for a release under less than ideal conditions.
While a traditional album release blowout seems out of the question for late October, Angela is hopeful that perhaps a small, intimate show will prove possible.
“People can’t survive without the live music experience,” she said, “but it’s just about finding a way to make that safe and to understand that it’s not going to be the way that it has been. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful or exciting experience.”
Details about Dreambored single and video releases, as well as future updates about the album release, can be found on the band’s website.