Q&A - Dream Wife
London-based art pop trio Alice Go, Bella Podpadec and Icelandic singer Rakel Mjöll aka Dream Wife formed at art school in Brighton where they began to make music embracing their love for edgy pop. Their music juxtaposes simple pop hooks, cutting riffs and dreamy vocals. Let's find out more.
Q: A lot of reviews and reports state that you ‘started off’ as a performance art piece, as if this art project somehow stopped when you got signed. Can you tell us what was behind the original idea, how this evolved and its relationship to what you are now?
A: Oh it stopped being an art piece ages and ages and ages ago. Originally it was only ever meant to be a few months project and then we would let it go, but before that time was up we ended up all really believing in it and considered it to be a band in it’s own right. It was sort of an experiment in dreaming big (among other things). Starting a band this way was interesting because it allowed for certain freedoms that don’t normally seem to be present for new bands. We played by a different set of rules from the start. When deciding what our band should be, we were coming from a completely different angle than any of us have ever done in musical projects prior to this, and that was completely refreshing and exciting.
Q: Your band name ‘Dream Wife’ inspired by the Sidney Sheldon film of the same name, explores the notion of women’s determinism in challenging men’s expectations of what women should do and what they should be. How do you see yourselves as an extension of that idea and what other female artists past or present have inspired you in this regard?
A: We haven’t seen the film so can’t comment directly on that… We landed on the phrase and it seemed such a funny and bizarre concept that was both a little sinister but at the same time very pop. It felt right to us but it actually doesn't directly reference the movie. I think it is true that we are attempting to dismantle expectations of what it means to be female. There are so many restraints imposed on all of us regardless of gender. These are largely just social constructs, but hey, we are living in a patriarchal society and things are shitty-er for us so it’s important to talk about that. Subversion feels like a good way to explore and push these boundaries, and the name, I think, hints at that.
To be honest any female identifying person who pushes against what is imposed upon them is an inspiration. But if you need a name then have Peaches; queen of deconstruction.
Q: Your members are from the UK and Iceland. How do you think these two cultures have influenced your music and your identity as a band?
Rakel: We come from two countries where music is a big export and is considered a trade. And musical education is important in these societies. Also there’s lots of it. There’s so many bands and so many good bands coming from Iceland it’s hard to keep count. Same with England, even though a population of 300.000 vs.. how many million isn’t something to line up next to each other. England has such an incredible history of music and London is a hot spot for bands and music luvers to come together and see what’s going on in music around Europe. Iceland has a big choir culture, everyone is in choirs - school choirs, work choirs etc. So vocals and telling a story through song is something we take pride in. We think it’s because we really didn’t get instruments over to the island until the 16th or 17th century and that was a church orgel. We had to do something, so the voice was our instrument.
Alice: Speaking as a British person raised on my Dad’s (largely 70’s) record collection, the heritage of British music is so rich, and I constantly feel like I try to honor that somehow through our music, in terms of the influence it has had on myself as a guitarist from an early age. I remember idolising British rock stars like Marc Bolan with his feather bower and his Les Paul, and I don’t remember thinking because I was a girl I couldn't do what Marc did. We are all definitely informed by our countries’ musical heritage and culture, allowing for it to shape us to some extent, However the music we are making exists right now rather than a rock n roll fantasy of a Britain gone by, and while the music legends live on in our hearts, we are a power trio of female musicians doing our own thing, together, regardless of hailing from different places, that’s what's exciting. The collision of culture and influence among us is a given, we just wanna keep writing songs that mean something to us, now, and share in that.
Q: Also, was there any in-band fighting and violent rivalry during the European football championships?
A: …. (Rakel smiles)
Bella: For me, as someone who has always had a problem with nationalism at the best of times, the Euros came at a vastly inappropriate moment considering the Brexit vote... It’s absolutely incredible that Iceland did as well as they did considering the size of the population. As much as Rakel (and perhaps rightly so) was trying to foster a competitive attitude, I wanted Iceland to win and to win big. An underdog story is always what I’d root for.
Alice: Well, I really truly don’t care about football….but I agree, it was an amazing journey for the Icelandic team.
Q: You were signed to Lucky Number this year, how did this come about and how important is it for a new band to be partnered with the right music label?
A: They are great. It’s been a beautiful partnership so far. We were approach by a fair amount of labels right after our first London show - and the time wasn’t right and we were not at all ready. It was very overwhelming, uncomfortable and sorta took the joy out of making music - music bizniz people seeing you as a potential product. Gave us the creeps really. We didn’t know what we wanted to sound like at that point and had to let our music and our project evolve naturally and signing to some big shot would have probably ruined that. Luckily none of that happened and we learned a few important lessons on the way. One is to always trust your gut feeling. Now we have an amazing team working with us and it feels really good. Just in general good hard working people that are excited about what we’re doing and there’s just no bull shit. Lucky Number actually came to our first London show and were in the crowds to numerous other shows but never presented themselves until we released our first EP this spring with Brighton label Cannibal Hymns. They had been following our progress and have seen us evolve and wanted to be a part of that. That’s also how we see the future with them. They are excited about what we’re going to surprise them with next rather than try to change this project into something we’re not. Trust is important.
Q: You are currently working on your first full album, what can we expect from this upcoming release?
A: Yes! All summer long, since we signed to Lucky Number for our debut album around the Great Escape festival in May. We we’re like: Guess we got an album to write this summer, let’s crack on it. So we’ve closed ourselves off in a small rehearsal space in Peckham a few times a week. It’s been a very productive summer. We were actually talking about this yesterday how pale we look considering all this sunshine we’ve been having in London…...but we got some material and songs that we are seriously excited about out of this summer that we have been building up for a long time. Pretty amazed how well the process is going actually. So couldn’t be happier about it. Pale but happy.
Q: Your live performances are known for their thrilling vibrancy, how difficult is to translate this energy onto a recorded album?
A: I guess we’ll find that out! We managed to do so for our first EP, but that took a few tries. Alice recorded all of the instruments at her parents house off the back an intense 6 week long tour around Europe that had its ups and downs. Alice’s dad plays drums on the EP. We’re firm believers in playing the songs to a live sweaty audience for a few times and seeing how they vibe within the crowds and on stage … then go to the studio and record. The songs change a lot on the road and the end result of a rockin live show is what we aim to capture on record.
Q: You are known to be big admirers of the work of David Lynch, have you put a call in yet for a collaboration?
A: Don’t. Meet. Your. Idols.
Q: You start touring the UK this autumn with Brighton band Black Honey, what is your favourite venue to play at and can we expect to see you in Liverpool?
A: Yes! We’re so excited. The Brighton scene is very fun these days with a lot of great bands coming from their. Like Realms and Magic Gang. It’s nice that we’re a part of that scene even though we don’t live there anymore. But Dream Wife was formed within the space of our art school in Brighton so it’s got a special place in our hearts. Black Honey are an incredible live band and we think it’s gonna be a rockin combo. Favourite venue… It’s not quite UK but Connollys of Leap in Southern Ireland is a real gem of a place. Liverpool - can’t wait, hope it’s soon!
Q: Also, (for the upcoming tour) can we expect to see the return of the head-banging human pyramid?
A: This pyramid, haha it’s always coming up randomly. We did it at one of our first shows and haven’t really done it since then. I guess our songs have become more complex so it’s tricky to do the pyramid and play at the same time. Just because of all these questions about the pyramid… maybe it’s time for it to have a comeback in our shows. Watch this space.
Watch Dream Wife's single Kids below: