Transgender Artists DreamStates ask: ‘What’s “Normal” anyway?’ Ohio-based Indie Pop Duo Share Inspiring Message in New Video — Out Now!

Transgender Artists DreamStates ask: ‘What’s “Normal” anyway?’

Ohio-based Indie Pop Duo Share Inspiring Message in New Video — Out Now!

“Celestial vocals…” — Indie Music Nation
“Love the narrative through this!” — SSG Music
“This is going on our playlist!” — Rock the Pigeon
“Could see this on a broadway stage play!” — comeherefloyd
“Great voice, and the song has a good sound and message!” — Pop Occulture
“I feel those strong emotions you go through when you sing this song” — Cassiopeia

August 2 @ The Diamond, Fairport Harbor OH
August 10 @ Aqueduct Brewery, Akron OH
August 18 @ Akron PorchRokr Music Festival, Akron OH
August 25 @ Akron Pride Festival, Akron OH
September 13 @ Enchanted Stories, Sketches & Sounds at the Outpost, Kent OH
October 11 @ The Stone Tavern, Kent OH

Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘normal’ as ‘conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.’ It’s such an abstract definition of something that’s perceived as so rigid, that it makes the challenge of actually defining the word all the more amusing.

“What’s normal anyway?” ask Akron, Ohio singer/songwriter duo DreamStates in their new single “Normal” — available now. “As we say in the song, you’re more than any stereotype.”

DreamStates is equal parts the creative handiwork of Madeline Eckhart and Natalie Grace Martin. While they previously honed harmonies working together in Natalie’s live ensemble during her “She/Her/Hers Tour” — including a critically acclaimed performance at Akron’s inaugural Pride Festival last year — they quickly learned a newly-inspired iteration of working together could be so much more than just a band.

“We have a really strong mutual desire to expand the roster of transgender musicians in the entertainment industry,” DreamStates explain. “For us, it goes far beyond our personal musical goals and over into the realm of activism, equality and empowerment for what is an embattled community of beautiful people.

“We like to say, DreamStates is ‘love made aural’.”

Speaking of love, “Normal” was an act of self-love and -care by Natalie this past winter as she celebrated her annual milestone.

“This song was a birthday present to myself,” reflects Natalie. “I wanted to write something that felt like a gift to myself. I made sure that it included everything I love.”

On the list? It had to be groovy.

It had to be positive. It had to be innovative, powerful, and uplifting.

Most of all, however, it had to be fun.

“The song came together through a combination of FL Studio 10, Audacity, and sheer musical determination,” she laughs. “I composed the whole thing in a single 10-hour sitting.

“The world’s never had a hugely successful and popular transgender female pop vocalist. The biggest challenge we face (sharing our music) could be simply introducing people to the trans feminine voice. I know my tone fluctuates; I have moments of masculinity and moments of femininity in what is, overall, a totally androgynous vocal performance.”

“Normal” is but one track in the 12 song debut collection titled Parts One and Two. Co-written between them, Natalie and Madeline found the process to be a passion project like none other, fuelled by momentum and drive. “The songs just kept coming to us, like we couldn’t stop,” says Martin. “We wrote the whole album between December 2017 and February 2018, with Natalie’s “Normal” coming right in the middle of it on her actual birthday, January 2nd,” shares Eckhart. “We released it in halves. “Normal” is featured on Part Two and stands in solidarity with the album’s overarching themes of self-love, acceptance, and triumph.”

Coming full circle, it was only fitting the video be recorded in the same room it was written.

“Natalie wanted a simple, straightforward approach,” Madeline recalls. “We were heavily inspired by the ‘simple concept yields astounding results’ aesthetic of OK GO. She challenged herself to see how much she could do visually with a single, close-up shot of a face.”

The results are an intimate, boundary-breaking tete-a-tete with Natalie start to end.

The video is polished and engaging, which is especially notable considering the creative rigging DreamStates created to pull it together. “I used an everyday kitchen mixer — a whisk — propped up in a small metal bucket to hold my iPhone in place,” Natalie laughs, detailing her impromptu ‘cameraman.’ “I then used Vegas Pro 12 with the very multi-talented Madeline to edit it.”

While the side bar pep talk here should inspire emerging artists the world over that yes, you can create magic using only a camera phone, creativity, and your kitchen, the true goal of the video was unequivocally achieved, and then some.

“We simply wanted to show a transgender individual giving a message of hope, love, and positivity,” DreamStates share. “We think we got there.”

That they did.

“Normal” is available now.


Madeline Eckhart is a singer, songwriter, actor, voice-over artist, puppeteer, digital designer, and costume designer from Elyria, Ohio. Miss Eckhart has a strong following of thousands on her YouTube channel, and she’s been singing since her early school years. Since attending the University of Akron for Theatre Arts, she has been an artistic “Jill-of-all-trades” throughout Northeast Ohio. As well as working with the Ohio Shakespearean Association and several high-profile animators, she was a featured speaker at the 2016 TransOhio Transgender & Allies Symposium in Columbus, Ohio, and her work as a costume designer/puppeteer has been featured at multiple comic and anime conventions. With dozens of character voices at her disposal, Madeline is a skilled and versatile performer who is also trained at improvisation. In the digital design field, she lends her talents to album cover artwork, producing and editing music videos, and designing cartoon characters. She came out as transgender in 2012.

Natalie Grace Martin is a former Vindicated Records recording artist, and 2005 graduate of the Vocal Institute of Technology at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, California. She is a trained multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, bass, drums, ukulele, flute, French horn, trombone, and percussion on her previous albums. Martin is a prolific songwriter and singer with 4 previously released solo albums, “Such A Mess It’s Beautiful” (2011) “UltraHeavy”(2013) under her pre-transition alias C. Mardo Martin, and her independent, post-transition albums “Rules Are For Breaking”(2015) and “She/Her/Hers”(2017). Ms. Martin has been a constant presence in the Akron music scene since 2009. She’s currently a public speaker, activist, solo performer for all of Ohio, frequently playing in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, plus numerous Akron-area music festivals. A parent of two young children, Natalie also works with children as the music teacher at the Lippman Elementary School in Akron. She came out as transgender in 2013.

Natalie Grace Martin and Madeline Eckhart started DreamStates together in December of 2017. The band chose their name to fit their sound: each song is a slice of a dream, and you can’t quite tell what’s real and what isn’t. With the combination of Martin’s musical wizardry, Eckhart’s creative bombast, a hefty dose of LGBT pride, and their instrument-hopping, crowd-inclusive live show, DreamStates follows in the footsteps of powerhouse Ohio-based duos 21 Pilots and The Black Keys.

We would like to thank Eric Alper, Publicist -for the artist profile and press release.