As the only female act holding it down on the My2K Tour this summer, Dream has a big role. Not only are they responsible for representing the slew of girl groups coming out in the late '90s/early '00s, but they also have an opportunity to showcase that they can reunite and successfully tour a la New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, My2K Tour headliners 98 Degrees and the handful of other "man bands," as they call them.
"I Believe," their first song in 15 years, is available for streaming now, but more importantly, it represents what they see as an important step to show that a "woman band" can still come together and kill it. Read below as members Holly Blake-Arnstein, Diana Ortiz, Ashley Poole and Melissa Schuman give their takes on today's girl group scene, what they'd change about their past and more.
FUSE: Welcome back, Dream! It's awesome that you're back on this My2K Tour. What's the experience been like so far?
Diana Ortiz: It's been really exciting. Between us, there's a familiarity being with these guys on tour—we toured with O-Town and 98 Degrees—so it's been 15 years, but for us it's been coming back home, a reunion of sorts, so it's been a lot of fun.
Ashley Poole: It's been a lot of fun, but very intense. I think coming back on the road with families, there's definitely some different dynamics, but we're enjoying it and trying to take it in because it's pretty amazing.
It's really great to have
you guys back. I've always been a girl group supporter.
Holly Blake-Arnstein: They're hard to come by, nowadays.
“We don't have a very strong system of women empowering other women."”
Right! They were gone for a moment, although you see Fifth Harmony killing it here or Little Mix in the U.K, and how big girl groups are in Asia. What's your take on the
status of girl groups today?
Diana: We've talked about what kind of girl groups are out now. There's Fifth Harmony, there's Little Mix…
Melissa Schuman: I really like Little Mix.
Diana: We're able to look at them and be like, 'They're really holding it down. I feel like we came out there were a few groups that were almost emulating each other. Now everyone has their own look and sound and I love that.
Ashley: The girls and I have never been haters for other girl groups. They'd ask, "Who do you compare yourselves to?" And we'd be like, "Oh, only ourselves because each group is going to have its own dynamic and own goals. You can't compare the two." For us, we're learners. We tend to look at other artists—especially women since our message is women empowering women—we definitely like to look at those girl groups and cheer for them.
Melissa: What I think is really interesting is what's happening with the resurgence of boy bands, or "man bands" is what they're calling themselves now [laughs]. A huge resurgence of these man bands, right? Not a whole lot of "women bands." I find that to be kind of thought-provoking. Not a ton of girl groups out right now, and what's up with that? It makes you kind of wonder, dynamic-wise, it may be tougher for women.
Holly: You mentioned in Asia, and [in] other places, girl groups have maintained more strength. In America, we don't have a very strong system of women empowering other women. The idea of multiple women working together and being fabulous together, and empowering each other, is a little harder for the American public to bite. Even when people meet us, people go, "Oh, wow, you guys really seem to like each other." This isn't four solo artists who happen to be squished together.
Ashley: We're hoping to make a change in the industry. We're not trying to put anyone else down or anything like that, but I think we have a very strong message and I think that carries us more: We love singing together, we go on stage and love each other so much. One thing that drives this group is that there are a lot of people who need to hear that message and we've been given this platform a second time to do this and we take that very seriously. There's been a lot of fans that have come up and talked to us and told us their story and we've helped them, and that warms my heart.
Since you've announced your return, you've released your new song "I Believe." Is this a taste of what's
Diana: Right now it was just important to, after 15 years of being gone, have the right song that we were able to create together, and send a message rather than a "statement," in a way. Rather than it be like, "We're here, we're brand new, we're back!," it's, "We have something to say our fans and we have something to say to our new fans." We're bringing the hope, the humility this world needs, in general with a lot of tragedies that have happened. "I Believe" is having hope for each other and what you believe in, and spreading that message. The songs and music that we pursue here after are still going to be the same format. We're going to do a song that feels good or feels right for Dream. Putting out an album right now, I don't really know if that's going to happen. Right now, it's about putting out music and releasing singles until we feel otherwise.
Holly: We've done a couple of others songs besides "I Believe." Some are more in line with what you'd expect based on "old Dream." But everything's updated. We're kind of stepping out into left field and spreading our creative wings. We all have different backgrounds. We've talked about dabbling in different areas and not really pigeon-holing ourselves to one style just because that's what peopled used to think of us as "Dream."
Ashley: There is the business aspect you always have to think about. I think for us, we feel as an artist you need to protect that. We know what good music is, we know how to write, we know how to do that. We're trying to keep out as many other influences so it can be pure, good, and influential.
If you could rewrite the narrative of when you first hit the scene, what do you wish people knew?
Diana: We didn't end because we had a fight. That's not why. This friendship has always stayed, the chemistry never left us. That's something I want our fans to know: It wasn't because there was any type of fighting. It's because of the circumstance of the music industry.
Holly: Even Melissa's departure [in 2002 to pursue acting], that was not because of [a fight]. If anything, that was the hardest part of her decision, was leaving her friends and having our friend leave. But we also supported her in a lot of ways in that decision, as hard as it was for all of us.
Ashley: A lot of people bash Puffy. They'll say, "He screwed you guys over," and the girls and I don't feel that way. He was the CEO of a company. He was the boss, he had his business, he'd say, "This song is good, this song is not, blah blah blah," and we were the product. He, in my opinion, wasn't what you saw on TV with his [Making the Band] bands. There's not really any bad blood there.
If there was a fifth act on the My2K Tour, who would you want?
Melissa: It'd have to be a girl. Eve?
Holly: That would work. I was thinking Christina, but she's still a current artist.
All: Looove JoJo!
Holly: Mandy Moore would have been a great addition. Oh my gosh, I could sing her whole album!
Ashley: 3LW should come back too. We toured with them, they were so much, and they were the only ones that were young like us. We'd go with T.G.I. Fridays with them and live it up.
The My2K tour continues this summer. Get tour dates and ticket info here.