Dove Cameron and Ryan McCartan, both stars of Disney's hit series Liv & Maddie, not only sparked a romance back in 2013, but the two have parlayed their fame and success into mounting a joint music career. Through a series of YouTube covers and original music videos the past few years, the duo have built a strong and sturdy fan base (and millions of views, to boot). Earlier this summer, under the moniker The Girl and the Dreamcatcher, the singers issued their debut project, the flickering Negatives EP. Suited up with sparkling hooks and undeniable musicality, Cameron and McCartan are on the brink of something bigger than they could have imagined. "The project has always been about us wanting to spend time together, create together and tell our story. We never felt any pressure because we were in it together and for the right reasons," the duo reflects with Popdust in a recent email.
"Being in a relationship requires compromise, and being in a relationship where you also WORK with that person requires even more compromise," they share. "The music has never put a strain on our relationship, but it has challenged us. We've grown even stronger in our 'team-playing,' as two solo artists who have come together to form a duo."
Most cuts on their new EP clock in at or just under three minutes, but surprisingly, one song took roughly "six months" to finish, as they tell it. "[There is] no rhyme or reason to it, this just happens in the songwriting process. You have a few different creative minds, and they all have a slightly different vision, and yes, sometimes it's difficult to unify that vision. 'Gladiator' took [the longest], but it was worth it."
Of course, Cameron and McCartan have primetime acting gigs coming fast and furious down the pipeline -- Cameron steps into the role of Amber von Tussle in NBC's upcoming Hairspray Live! production (airing December 7) and McCartan takes on Rocky Horror Picture Show's central character Brad Majors in a remake feature film set to premiere October 20. They are both understandably ecstatic for such career moments, with an air of curiosity and wary. "If no one ever remade the classics, no one would know Shakespeare. It's so important to bring these classics back. Neither [are] daunting nor challenging. [It is] just highly exciting, not only to be a part of something amazing and new, but to celebrate what has been."
Since the invention of the duo's rather whimsical name, they have been lambasted for appropriating another culture. Cameron and McCartain discuss that and more in our exclusive Q&A session below. Dig in:
How do you handle criticisms over the use of "Dreamcatcher" in your name/videos when critics are saying you are appropriating another culture?
Not appropriation. Veneration. Admiration. Respect. Dreamcatchers were symbolic to both of us in our childhood. They mean something to us and we're celebrating them. Also, dreamcatcher is a double-entendre. One who quite literally catches their dreams, which is not only something we encourage our fans to do on a daily basis, but is something we take very seriously in our lives. Dream big, realize those dreams, create your own destiny.
You recorded the Negatives EP in Nashville at what you call "writing camp." What is that exactly, and how did that influence you?
It's a super professional term we made up. Because we're busy balancing our music career with our individual theatrical careers, time is a resource not often in surplus in our lives -- which is why, if we have a week or two where neither of us have much going on, we'll hole ourselves away at a fellow songwriter or producer's house and write, literally for days straight. It's nice because it gets us in that headspace to be writing, and we can zero in and think about the song and nothing else.
Are you already considering what your next musical steps will be?
Of course! Again, since things are as busy as they are, we're always trying to keep a few steps ahead of ourselves. We have tons of plans for the rest of this year and next year. We can't wait to keep the momentum going.
How do music and acting fulfill different creative needs for you?
Music is telling OUR story, where as acting is telling someone else's. One is our take on our life, and one is more a commentary of certain parts of life, in general. Both are important art forms and ones we consider ourselves very blessed to be a part of.
Ryan, you are playing Brad in the upcoming production of Rocky Horror Picture Show. On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you?
They haven't made numbers high enough to quantify my excitement.
How are you preparing for the role? Did Barry Bostwick's original portrayal of Brad influence the choices you make in any way?
Not really. I love Barry Bostwick and what he did. I've watched his performance well over a dozen times. Brad is Brad; there are certain elements anyone who plays him has to capture. That's just in the writing. We were all encouraged to make the characters our own and tell their stories our way, so I did my best to do that. Same Brad, but seen through a different perspective.
Dove, you are about to start filming for Descendants 2, how do you plan to challenge yourself?
Every new project is a challenge for me, and I wouldn't want it any other way. To do better than last time, to push myself to my absolute limits, to do emotional contortion and acrobatics. I love to learn more about how I work and how others work by being inside someone else's brain. And I also learn the most by being vulnerable. So I'm really looking forward to being my most vulnerable and unselfconscious that I've ever been. It's harder than it sounds!
Of course, you are also playing Amber in the upcoming Hairspray Live. Does the "live" part make you nervous?
It makes me nervous, sure, but also thrilled! I've never done anything like it! I am so honored to be apart of the whole thing. I honestly don't think the nerves have set in. But I will be drilling those dance moves like nothing else in the coming months just to be safe.
How are you making Amber your own?
I am definitely attempting to bring a goofiness and a humor to her that I find in myself. I'm attempting to avoid watching the other incarnations to keep my idea of her fresh.
Make sure you grab a copy of The Girl and the Dreamcatcher's brand-new Negatives EP now on iTunes.
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