Interview – Dream Wife

Dream Wife – © Joanna Kiely

“This punk ethos of questioning the status quo…”

I chatted to Alice, guitarist of Dream Wife, about their new album, fashion, feminism and Sports!

By Isobel Mcleod

Dream Wife are back in town, louder and groovier than ever. Two singles, ‘Sports!’ and ‘Hasta La Vista’ from their upcoming album are out and setting the tone for an exciting new record. Since their early days based in London and Brighton, to signing with Lucky Number, they are now using their platform to raise the voices of other women and non-binary musicians with projects like Tour Support Reimagined, creating a collaborative community within the usual boys club of the music industry. ‘So When You Gonna…’ is out July 3rd on Lucky Number, a fun, statement record that will empower all.

I’ve been listening to the new album and its sounding great, what is your favourite track off it?

  • I think I secretly really like ‘Sports!’. I think the album as a whole is an elevation and a furthering of the conversation, we set out in the first album. With a track like ‘Sports’ it’s similar to ‘FUU’, it was just wild. There have been these really wild tracks that have just stood out from the rest, and I think with say ‘FUU’ I’ve always had a real soft-spot for that one, and the wildness at a gig. I think ‘Sports’ will kind of hold that place on this record, and I really love that track and the energy on it, also just the groove. I think it’s simple and fun, but still making that statement of ‘Put your money where your mouth is’.
  • We recorded the album with a producer called Marta Salongni, she’s this amazing Italian producer, and then we worked with her engineer friend Grace and it was mastered by Heather Kedgeree in New York, so it was this amazing team of women that helped produce this record. So I feel like it with ‘Sports’ and ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ it summarises the process a little bit of us making it in that way. I think for me ‘Sports’ is a real statement, but it’s also really really fun and I can’t wait to share that live with people. It’s like a workout!

You said this album is an elevation since the first one, do you think the environment you’re recording in has changed since you started?

  • Yes absolutely, it’s the polar opposite of the way we recorded the first album. Primarily, we began really trialling songs through the live shows, and when we recorded the first album it was multitrack live, so we all played at once and were trying to get that take. It was all about getting that raw, live energy in the mix. We recorded it in the space of a week, so with this album, after touring the first one for like two years or so, we stopped for two months and got back to writing in London, it was the first time in a really long time that we’d all been still together. There were a lot of ideas simmering over the two years of touring. It was really refreshing to come into the room, and it felt like this organic enthusiasm, to suddenly be writing again. We felt actually very lucky that we were able to have that space and that still moment to be reflective and creative with the music. We hadn’t got that on the first record as it was written over that time of playing shows, so with the writing and recording of album Two ‘So When You Gonna…’ we felt really lucky to have space around it to kind of consider everything. Even in the studio we were recording over a month, so compared to the first record, having a whole month and recording with a producer that wanted to hold this conversation with us, Marta wanted to share and understand how we wanted it to be. So it felt like this really organic process in the room. Generally, to have more time around the writing and the recording to have this time to feel like we could really get it how we wanted to get it, felt like a luxury.

I think you can really hear that on songs like ‘Temporary’ and ‘After The Rain’, you can hear that space and reflection in it.

  • Yes absolutely, I think one thing as well with this record, coming from the first, is that standing still and being present with each other. With the new music, for Rakel lyrically it has been a real thing, of being able to be really open with each other and I think hold each other in this quite difficult space potentially. It’s been able to go to much more sensitive places, so it’s a really powerful record for those extremes. I think those extremes are pushed, alongside ‘Sports’, you have a track like ‘After The Rain’, which to me is like the ‘Somebody’ of this record. It makes a really beautiful statement, and for us it was really mattered to get that song right and allow it to have its moment on the record as the final track.
Dream Wife – © Joanna Kiely

Your lyrics have always had a feminist influence, how has your position as women in the music scene changed as you’ve grown as a band?

  • Stuff has definitely become more of a mainstream conversation regarding equality in the music industry and women and non-binary people in the industry. When we started out, we weren’t signed for a long time so we did a lot of feral tours. We did one tour in Germany that I think was really formative for us, which was probably around five years ago now. It was beginning to acknowledge these very sexist remarks said to us as women playing rock n roll, from these men and it was just so normal. I think for us, it was important to acknowledge, that just because we are in this bubble in London or Brighton, where it feels like everything is equal and everyone is on the same page, it is just not that way in the world. For us it has always been about carrying that conversation through and really standing up for what we stand for, and not being apologetic about it. You can bracket it as feminist, which it obviously is, but also it is this natural way that we approached this, this punk ethos of questioning the status quo.

You are all talented musicians, and it feels like that is what you should be able to stand on, not just you being women in a band. When you did the ‘Tour Support Reimagined’, how do you think that could be spread across the music scene?

  • I think it is interesting, because actually right now, and in terms of staying creative in isolation, that could be something that is applied. We are in the internet age, so you can send things back and forth, you don’t have to physically all be in the same place to be creative together, to make things and to make music together. With ‘Tour Support Reimagined’, we had come off this tour and I just really love these bands and wanted a way to carry on that conversation with them while tour was over for me and I was just in my room. I really wanted to do something to bring these voices together. I think that is something anyone can do, it is finding these ways right now, where we can’t all be together. It is finding really beneficial ways right now, so that people can communicate through the internet and create things together. Be that now, or in the future. It feels like a really freeing and liberating way to actually work.

On a different note, you all wear really cool outfits, like the video for ‘Sports!’, how has fashion been important for you?

  • Well let’s start with ‘Sports’!. The outfits for that are by our friend Paolina Russo, she is just incredible, she’s someone who has been a longstanding friend of ours, just watching her grow has been amazing. Watching our band grow alongside her fashion growing, there has been a lot of mutual respect, and wanting to collaborate together. We work with stylists, but often it is just with friends. For example, the Polyester zine, that community has been a major creative community and bubble which we can collaborate with. I think the style and the ‘look’ and what that is drawing from, has felt like this real tapestry of our community. Be that having Paolina’s work in ‘Sports’. It has been this really fun way of expressing ourselves and making a statement. That is with our bodies but on our terms, also with our friends. It’s this way of mutual support as well as being part of a creative community in London. It has always just been part of that really.
  • We like to have fun with it, Bella makes her own clothes for the shows, and we’re all just into it really, so it’s quite hands on for us. We’ve always been into self-styling, maybe with the help of a stylist. But it is important for us to be in control of that and be in control of our own image and have fun with it too.
Dream Wife – © Joanna Kiely

What is your favourite outfit to gig in?

  • The Paolina corset in Sports! is probably my favourite outfit ever. We all got to a point towards the end of the tour where we kind of were all just wearing sports gear to play the shows. It was funny we ended up making ‘Sports’ because we’d already been doing it in the live shows, but I think it is that attitude of a live show where you are an athlete and you’re there to perform in a sense. It’s wanting to be able to move freely and not be restricted by your clothes just because you are a woman. You want to do it justice as an athlete, we want to have fun with it, but ultimately, you’ve got to be able to move in it and not fall over. Just generally sports gear is just really good to perform in. You always sweat at a show, so sports gear is designed to be sweated in, so I think it’s pretty perfect.
Dream Wife – © Joanna Kiely

So you have the new album coming, is there anything else for fans to be getting excited about?

  • I guess there’s new content coming over this time, new media, we have a podcast and the rest of that is going to be great. Trying to remember what has or hasn’t been announced! With the Rough Trade album there is a zine that Bella made, which is these drawings of our time during the recording process, and encapsulating the time surrounding writing and recording this new album but in a visual zine form. That is very special. Ultimately, I can’t wait to see what people think of the new album and to be able to share that. Also gigs, fingers crossed!

Pre-order ‘So When You Gonna Come…’ here!

Thank you to Joanna Kiely for giving permission for the use of her work. Check out her work @jofanna on Instagram.