Communication Matters: Clash Meets Dream Wife
Dream Wife are music obsessives. At any given point their songs - and presence - surprise and make you think again.
Having spent a large part of 2018 in the live environment playing packed-out shows all over the world, there’s a sense of restlessness. The next thing can’t come soon enough. Outspoken about the inclusion of women and non-binary people in the creative industries, it’s clear that they mean business.
With a gender divide in music production currently estimated at around 95% male to 5% female, their second album ‘So When You Gonna…’ addresses this, with Dream Wife working alongside an all-female production team. Things took off in big ways, and the result speaks for itself.
After a stimulating, prolific spell of studio recording work Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go and Bella Podpadec are back with a blistering, joyous statement of electro-pop and punk sentiments that will cement with force their powerful messages and voice.
Clash caught the group one afternoon to get the insider’s guide to empowerment, not forgetting those wise, informative podcasts they’re making.
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Last two years were pretty full on. What’s it like to release an album right now?
Rakel: We spent some of it writing and recording. We thought this was going to be the year we were gonna be play live. We’re excited to release this album, it’s a great thing to get it out. Looking at it under a microscope, away from it and having others listening, is gonna be great.
What has it been like to work with an all-female team?
Rakel: Working with Marta Salogni was incredible. She picked an engineer called Grace Banks, she recommended Heba Kadry. The team was right, the egos were left at the doorstep. We spent a month in the studio, it was a great mentally and physically. What we created was fun. We haven’t been able to play much of it live, a song’s always growing and breathing, so this is new to us too.
‘So When You Gonna…’ is so consistent, it’s your sound. How did you achieve it?
Alice: When we started writing again, it was exciting to get back to the creative space. We’ve been a live band for two years. Spending so much time together, we had a sense of trust in our writing and recording. It delves into much, it pushes these extremes sonically. It’s clashes of light and shade. There was space for us to make it in a way that felt right. Working in the recording space with Marta felt organic, like an ongoing conversation. She helped us elevate our ideas.
Rakel: She’s funny and direct as a producer. When you go in to record, everyone knows what they’re doing. We enjoyed the time and allowed ourselves to feel good. Marta is always cracking jokes and allowing you to build trust. Trust is important for recording to get the emotion you wanna portray.
What’s it like to tackle serious topics?
Rakel: You want to go into that emotion and be present. A song like ‘Temporary’ is about hope, strength and continuing waves of crashes. It’s about a friend of ours, who had multiple miscarriages. Talking about such topics, you need to walk away feeling that you did it justice, ensure the story has vulnerability and strengh. We went to art school, that helps us dive into ideas and conversations.
We know each other, many lyrics are based upon conversations that we’ve been having. When you speak about something, you understand it. Songs are about that too. Lyrics often depend on things in your mind, they become clear when they’ve left your lips, and they’re out there. It becomes more of a conversation. With your band mates too.
Like you say ‘Temporary’ is complex. Did you approach the topic differently?
Rakel: We started writing it in a retreat in Ireland. Difficult things were happening back home that we weren’t beginning to grasp. A friend of ours was going through brain surgery. Another was being told that her fetus couldn’t live, she was waiting for the abortion procedure. I remember being excited about writing, but there was this weight of what was happening.
We flew back, the lyrics came together once we looked at the song. It’s about people going through obstacles, challenges, they’re pushed but have hope.
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Who do you view as key influences this time?
Alice: Blondie in a big way. Writing these songs and thinking of their roots, it’s a band with the type of songwriting that we like. A lot of what we do comes back to them, there’s a sensibility because of the ‘80s pop element.
Dream Wife encourage women to seek opportunities in music. Do you feel progress is being made?
Rakel: It’s practising what you preach. You can’t just talk about the fact that festival bills are lacking in female representation and non-binary musicians. You’ve gotta do something, use a platform to encourage others. The industry needs to be fairer. There aren’t many women doing what we’re doing, we need role models and representation.
We started a podcast series. I’d have loved to hear them when I was 14. They would have made a difference to me as a woman and musician. They’re highly relevant.
How has the response been?
Alice: Really great. We’ve had this conversation, it feels good to give access to people who haven’t had this as teenagers. It feels important to just hear these conversations in the creative industry.
Do you select festivals and live shows based on inclusion and representation?
Rakel: We did Primavera last summer. The audience was incredible, we had the best time. Walking around the festival site with your friends watching FKA Twigs, Christine and the Queens, Erykah Badu. Walking from stage to stage, listening to music that you’re blown away by. At the end of the day you realise you only saw women on stage. That made me emotional, as if that was normal.
Following hard work and determination you’ve established yourselves as musicians. What’s the transition been like?
Alice: When we formed this band it was a rebellion against the institution.We were all studying art. For us this band was just super. It was challenging, but we were operating creatively. You start questioning art, what’s the point of this insular world? Our dream from the start was always real. It’s born out of something that wasn’t just fine art. It felt empowering to us and was too fun to stop. We wanted to do more, it snowboarded from there.
That’s an incredible way to rise and evolve.
Rakel: It’s the most natural way to evolve. When we started out we played house parties. We had to learn about promoters, the importance of tour vans, the role of a tour manager. We learnt it the hard way, going across Europe, playing shows in the middle of nowhere. It’s made us grateful for whatever came.
When we got a tour manager, we were impressed, we don’t take anything for granted. We didn’t release an album until we knew what we had was something we were proud of.
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'So When You Gonna...' will be released on July 3rd.
Words: Susan Hansen
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