Lucid-Dreaming Rapper Pell Interprets Your Dreams
The opening scene of Richard Linklater’s film Waking Life shows a young boy and girl playing with a paper fortune teller. The girl holds the fortune teller and asks the boy a sequence of questions, “Pick a color, pick a number,” and so on. He picks a combination that leads to the phrase “Dream is destiny.” As New Orleans rapper Pell puts it, “After the boy sees that, he enters his dream-like world and begins to float while dreaming.”
Née Jared Pellerin, Pell grew up in NOLA, which left a permanent imprint on his music. After picking up the trombone in third grade, his father gave him a beat machine around the time Katrina hit. Pell and his family left the city the night before, the beat machine ending up being one of the few possessions Pell took with him when he relocated to Jackson, Mississippi with his mother.
As the new kid in town, he also used it as a way to make friends. In high school he realized he could spit. He began taking rap more seriously while attending Mississippi State University, and since then has dropped two projects; Calphonic, in 2012, and Floating While Dreaming, in 2014.
The concept for this album was derived from Linklater’s film. After having his curiosity for dream psychology awakened, Pell began practicing lucid dreaming (trying to control what he did in his dreams), and started recording dreams every day in his notebook. “Sometimes it’s only when I write them down will I truly have a good account of what happened,” he says. “Some are just memories.”
One of the tools to facilitate lucid dreaming is to rely on symbols. For Pell, after two months he finally knew he was in a dream because of an umbrella. A similar situation occurs in Waking Life, when the protagonist knows he’s in a dream because he can turn a light switch on and off.
“After you know you’re in a dream, you can kind of do whatever you want,” he says. “It’s quite simple but it takes a lot of practice.”
After he began lucid dreaming, Pell realized that his dreams were influential to his life. For example, floating, a persistent motif, matched a daily feeling of chasing dreams in reality. “A recurring dream is meant to be in your real life,” he says, “because I feel like it’s obviously your subconscious telling you something that you don’t know yet about yourself.”
However, not all the songs on his project are related to dreaming. “Dollar Store” is based on a true story, where Pell actually didn’t come into work one day because he had a show and forgot he had to work, so he quit over the phone. Floating While Dreaming is a study of life experiences that make us all human at the end of the day.
“I made like, a metaphor out of dreams because in our generation there’s a lot of people who are dream-chasers, who are really goal chasers,” he says. “Floating While Dreaming was basically taking Point A, the point of inspiration of your dreams, to Point B, the destination, and actually fulfilling those dreams.”
Fans Ask Pell About the Meaning of their Dreams
I had a dream about catching a flight with my mum, but then the vehicle that was transporting us broke down or something next to a huge mechanic’s shed. And then there was an earthquake? And then I woke up and the power went out, so my alarm didn’t go off.
I feel as though you’re in some sort of transition stage. You are headed towards something new but everything in your past isn’t completely fixed. Whatever this change is may be so important that it feels as though your whole world is crashing down. Coincidentally, the lights going out is really interesting. Don’t have much for that. Hope this helps.
This morning I had a dream about Michael, my ex-boyfriend from high school. There was this whole part about cars and traffic and driving to and from downtown Chicago, but I don’t remember that part in detail. I remember that he wasn’t there during the day and his girlfriend was making fun of him and I sort of hopped on the bandwagon and made fun of him too. Then at night, a bunch of people were at dinner in the basement restaurant and Michael was there too. He had grown dreads and was wearing a dumb hat (he often wears dumb hats in real life). Anyway, so the girlfriend tells Michael that I was making fun of him and she and I started to argue. But Michael was on some whole other tip. He was watching this piece of string on the wall move with the bass line of the music that was playing, saying that the music was bad.
You were probably going through a transition in your life. The traffic is a [metaphor for] you not being able move on from this previous relationship without some discomfort. You wanted to talk bad about him because you have some words that you left unsaid. He has moved on so the words don’t really affect him. Hope this helps.
I had a dream no one from high school wanted to go to the reunion so they just sent their spirit animals instead. Mine was an eight-foot tall rooster that could breathe fire. What does it mean?
Your spirit animal is usually a direct representation of what you want or aspire to be, symbolically or literally. You wish you were taller and a better rapper. I get that—we all have hoop dreams. But I think the dream is a symbolic message of people putting on a front at the reunion because they are either ashamed or uncomfortable about who they have become post-graduation.