Updated: Jul 18, 2020
“The culture for live shows in the UK is incredible, it’s not like any other in the world! I think people can forget how special these shows can be.” Reflects Rakel Mjöll, lead vocalist of punk trio Dream Wife, as we chat about touring and their impressive feat of playing over 200 shows across 2018 all over the world.
Made up of lead vocalist Rakel, bassist Bella Podpadec and guitarist Alice Go, the London based trio have created a buzz around their punk rock sound and their no-nonsense attitude. What started as a simple university project to create a ‘fake girl band’ has led to the release of a critically acclaimed debut album, impressive headlines slots and international tours, and supporting slots for artists such as The Vaccines, Sunflower Bean, The Kills and more. “We were so lucky to be able to support these bands and be in their presence, we have learnt so much from them. Garbage fans are die-hard fans and Shirley Manson is incredible, she did a speech about us every night on tour and encouraged her fans to listen to our music, it was just the nicest thing to have that kind of support.”.
Their second LP “So When You Gonna...” (out 3rd July via Lucky Number) is their most consistent work yet. The band describe it as “A dare, an invitation, a challenge. It’s about communicating your desires, wholehearted consent and the point where talking is no longer enough.”
“It promotes body autonomy and self-empowerment through grabbing the moment. The breakdown details the rules of attraction in a play by play ‘commentator’ style, inspired by Meat Loaf’s ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’. It was different from our debut because that was like ‘Hi here I am!’, it was an introduction all recorded at different time periods whilst this time we made it a lot more polished and we’ve become tighter as a unit both musically and in our relationship.”
‘Sports!’ is the first single from the new album and it is based on the physicality of being on the road and performing shows every night. The funky guitar riffs take the playful track further with some lyrics that further take the conversation of women in music, with putting “Money where your mouth is!”.
“Sports! sits on multiple levels of multiple levels of satire and celebration of nonsense and common sense, of the body and the mind, of real life and digital.”
The video that accompanies the single was self-directed and self-produced by the band, full of colours and different sporting apparatus’. “It’s the new normal, our most routine life is on tour! Everything is planned out for you; you end up having a routine on the road so it’s nice. It’s important to have a routine because you’re constantly travelling so you need to look after yourself. It’s easy to just get a burger every night and get drunk but it’s important to make sure that you look after your health and take vitamins and minerals. It’s 80% travel-ling so you just want to make sure that when you go on that stage, you’re present, and you give the best performance that you can!”, tells Rakel of navigating life on the road and avoiding burning out.
“Playing sports is great if that’s for you but there are so many other ways to be physical, to be with your body. For us, more often than not, it’s the rock show. Rock’n’roll is an extreme sport and we’re a team.”
They’ve never been a band to shy away from important discussions, whether it be pushing their ‘bitches to the front’ initiative at live shows, where they ask for all their women and non-binary audience members to step to the front for a safe space, or fighting for more women and non-binary producers behind the scenes, they are always vocal about their stance.
Their new podcast, with the same name as their second album, is representative of that as they use it to showcase creatives in all industries, not just in music, in one-on-one interviews about how they hone their craft. The first episode, ‘So When You Gonna...Get Into Production’ was centred around Marta Salogni, the producer and mixer of the album, “It’s an informative thing to feed back to our fans, to be able to see about getting into certain industries. It’s about fostering communities, and it’s a skill share.” explains Go. The podcast is a way to enable the new generation of creatives and to push them to get within the creative industries.
Rakel was quick to highlight the point that only 5% of music producers are in fact women and that is part of the reason why they decided to work with an all female team on this album to help spread awareness of this issue within the creative industries. Wanting to ensure that they had creative control over what they were putting out, they made sure to have a team that was representative of that and they had the same creative vision as them to allow them to create what they wanted. “It is all written by us because who else would write it?! We also did a lot of pre-production ourselves but made sure to leave some of the ‘magic’ for the studio.” Rakel muses when discussing the fruition of the album and the team behind it.
The team consisted of producer and mixer Marta Salogni (Björk, Holly Herndon, FKA Twigs), engineer Grace Banks (David Wrench, Marika Hackman) and mastering engineer Heba Kadry (Princess Nokia, Alex G, Beach House). “We instantly had a bond with Marta, she was so direct in what she wants to do and what her vision is. She uses a lot of drawings and colours to express how she feels about the music. We spent about a month at the Pony Studios in London and Marta mixed the album as well so was there throughout the process. It was nice because it felt like all egos were left at the doorstep and it was refreshing to have that. It was more about the feeling within the music rather than having it sound perfect, so even if it was just one take, if it felt right, we left it at that .”
"It was amazing to work with this community of womxn on this album who are supporting each other in an industry that is so male-dominated. It was a way of us practicing what we preach. It felt like an honour to be able to deliver this baby with these three amazing midwives” Go adds.
‘After the Rain’ is the ballad that closes off the album, a stark contrast to the boppy opener, ’Sports!’. It covers what can be considered the rather controversial topic of abortion and being pro-choice, written around the time of the introduction of Alabama’s ‘Human Life Protection Act’ in 2019. “It was intended as a healing song, something that I wrote for my sister.” Rakel tells as we discuss the back story of the song, which happens to be her favourite on the album.
“I wanted to be open and personal within the album and there’s not many songs about abortion, so I felt that it was important to have that conversation. It was written on a voice memo last summer; it was after I had a conversation with my sister and I just wanted to be able to get the initial shock and the ranges of emotions and thoughts out to process it all. It was around the time when things around abortion and reproductive law was happening in Alabama and there was a lot of grief and anger that I felt needed to be expressed. At the end of the day, it’s no one’s business but yours.”
The track is 5 minutes of hard-hitting vocals accompanied by light melodies, yet it still has the magic sound that the band are known for. “I wanted to make sure that the vocals were the main story-teller within the song, and the piano and a bit of guitar was just to lift the vocals up a bit.”.
Being a band that prides themselves for being open and focusing on topics that important and sometimes controversial within the punk scene, Dream Wife are a prime example of how to do so without over-stepping boundaries and being able to cover topics that some artists would shy away from in fear of backlash. This album is no exception with the topics of abortion, miscarriage and gender equality being covered within in the perfect way, shedding light on modern day issues that sometimes don’t get that platform. Their attitude towards other wxmen creatives is exactly what the creative industries need in order to create change and inspire others to learn and join, hopefully leading to more albums like this one in the future.
Interview taken from Issue 1 of One Great Zine, read the full magazine over on Issuu.