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February 2021

Black Honey & Dream Wife: Double trouble

Two of the hottest new bands in the country, on tour, together. Everyone else stand down - Black Honey and Dream Wife are in control.
Published: 9:30 am, October 07, 2016
Black Honey & Dream Wife: Double trouble
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Flickering with static, Black Honey make cinematic anthems of love, lust and heartbreak. Dream Wife find a theatre for the romance, all glitter and grit. Between them, the bands are flying a handcrafted flag for bucking expectation, living a life without limits and embracing the power that comes with it. Neither band have self-imposed rules and it’s been a long time since anyone else tried to box them in.

“It’s just two cool bands going on tour together,” starts Black Honey leader Izzy B. Phillips as Dork rounds up the members of the two groups ahead of their UK jaunt together. Despite both bands forming in Brighton they’ve only met each other in passing before today so, in front of camera lenses and microphones, this is first contact. Black Honey drummer Tom Dewhurst quickly finds out the The Magic Gang have a poster of Dream Wife in their recording studio, and so spends the whole day trying to join the band. The closest he gets is being told he can be their Bez.

Elsewhere, there’s talk of daily tarot card readings from Dream Wife bassist Bella Podpadec to get the vibe of the shows as well as yoga, pizza birthday parties and tape. Turns out Dream Wife and Black Honey guitarist Chris Ostler love tape. There’s a Black Honey tour initiation ceremony of the flaming pinky which involves fire and Sambuca but don’t expect the cheesy final night group song. “I don’t think we’ll be exchanging fans as much as sharing them,” Izzy continues. “They’re getting a double hit. Here you go, here are two really great bands.”

“We’re just big fans of Dream Wife,” explains Black Honey bassist Tommy Taylor. It’s a feeling that’s reciprocated (luckily) with Dream Wife vocalist Rakel Mjöll pointing out: “It doesn’t make sense if you’re touring with someone you don’t like. What’s the point if you don’t like the music?” Despite touring a lot, Dream Wife have always done it alone and via public transport. “We’ve missed a lot of coaches and spent many nights on a Megabus.” Black Honey are more versed in sharing the journey. They either tour with bands they’re already friends with or that they respect. It doesn’t matter how you set out though, “We’re now best friends with every band we’ve been on tour together with,” smiles Izzy.
“So, we’re becoming best friends now,” asks Rakel.
“It’ll be exciting to make some new best friends,” adds Bella. That invitation isn’t just reserved for those on stage though.

More than just a run of excellent evenings up and down the country, the tour is set to capture a moment in time. Despite the relative infancy of both projects, Black Honey and Dream Wife have been a long time coming. There’s a lifetime of influence, experience, trial and error behind every layer of their already-assured vision. Neither band has committed more than four tracks to a release but there’s an art behind everything they do. They know exactly what they want and they embrace that ever-evolving idea of what they are. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row
[vc_column][vc_single_image image="5734" img_size="full" alignment="center
[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For Dream Wife, it started as an art project while the three members - Rakel, Bella and guitarist Alice Go - were at art school in Brighton. “It was about dreaming big and making stuff happen in a conceptual way, having an idea and seeing it through,” starts Bella, as Alice adds: ”and realising things in quite a realistic way.”
However, two years on from the band returning from a DIY tour of Canada and realising it had become more than just a project, how the band first formed is now almost irrelevant. Dream Wife are very much The Real Thing - and have been for a long time.

The band released their first record this spring, the to-the-point titled ‘EP01’, that tied together four distinctive but darling songs that announced to the world what the band had been building during their live shows (no, we’re not talking about human pyramids, let it go).

“We had tried other things going into the studio but it wasn’t the same as the live show,” offers Rakel. “That raw freshness, that was the sound we wanted. And that’s why it was great to release this EP and to have something that was our live show and that was our sound out in the world. We ended up recording it off of the back of a two month DIY tour last autumn and we recorded it in Alice’s parents house.”
“My dad’s playing drums on that record,” grins Alice.
“Having the EP out was a major moment. People could finally understand what Dream Wife was about. People didn’t take it seriously, maybe because the aesthetic is a major consideration people assume the music’s not good, but it’s not just three girls dressing up. People’s impression of the band has been a lot more genuine since the release.”
All four songs “went on journeys and it was really pivotal to understand what those journeys were and what we wanted from them. It’s the same as the new songs,” teases Alice. “That journey is so important.”

Oh yeah, turns out Dream Wife have written their debut album.

Dream Wife took a break from the road this summer and locked themselves away in a windowless room in Peckham to write the songs that will become their debut album. With nothing but scheduled breaks to go to the park and making summertime friends with the children dragged to work with their parents at the tailoring shop opposite to distract them, the past few months have been really creative for the band. “We’re going to be playing a lot in the next year, so it’s been great to have a summer where we can just write and not have to play a million shows,” says Rakel. Before 2017 rolls around and carries Dream Wife away though, there’s the tour with Black Honey.

“That tour is so exciting for us because that is where we’re going to road-test the songs,” beams Bella. “That is where we’re going to learn to play them live. Then we’re going to come back from this tour and record them. This tour is a big deal for us because we’re going to learn how to play our debut album. We are a live band at the crux of it and we want an album that is representative of an experience, that is a snapshot of something that happened.”

“When you play a song live, you understand its truth,” explains Alice. “That’s the truest form it can be, sharing it with people in that moment. That’s what we want to get on our record with those songs.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_video link="
" align="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The band’s manager originally asked Dream Wife for twenty songs to help work out the direction they could go. The band, knowing their own mind, “wrote twelve really good songs” instead. There’s already an unwavering confidence to Dream Wife. Keep up or don’t. It’s the same idea that the band held dear when they first started, “You have this idea and you go for it. That’s the fun part about this band. We know when we’re not ready and we know when we are ready.” Instead of playing around with direction and experimentation and, in the process, taking forever, Dream Wife know what they want. “After recording the EP, we know how we work. We’re going to take that education and we’re going to record our debut album,” promises Rakel.

The band, in between stealing Black Honey’s Haribo (though you didn’t hear that from us) are quick to explain that it’s too early to talk about specific influence on the record. “When we write, it just comes out,” ventures Alice, with Bella carrying on: “It’s a whole lifetime of absorbing stuff. There are so many levels of processing stuff. We could throw some names around but that would be giving too much weight to anything specific.” Currently meeting up with producers, a process that feels a lot like going on a date, the band do know how they want the record to feel and that’s thanks to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “because we are very much individuals in our music. The drums, the bass, the guitar, the vocals, its all got a very strong personality and then they come together in a really beautiful way. That’s what the dynamic is with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, this beautiful space and beautiful collision of all these beautiful personalities.”
“Just when we’ve been writing, it has been fun and that’s a really relevant reference,” adds Alice.

Still hiding away as demos and ideas, Dream Wife’s debut already has its own fierce identity. “It’s been a really long process in terms of us settling into it,” starts Alice. “This is what we want from this project when we set out.”
“I’m so happy we didn’t record right away,” admits Rakel.
“We had a few attempts and it was terrible,” says Bella. “It just didn’t feel right, but I think what’s interesting about this is, when we started out, because we weren’t trying to do the band thing it was a much more free form thing. We were just having a good time and liking music.”

Rakel, Alice and Bella are all from musical backgrounds and they’ve been in bands for pretty much their entire lives. Between them, Dream Wife is around group number twenty. And while playing music was never something the band had never done before, with Dream Wife “we didn’t have any expectations. Without expectations, there were no limitations. We were aiming at big, ridiculous things and I think a lot of stuff happened that wouldn’t have happened if you were trying to follow a particular path.”
“We just did things,” the band say, almost in unison. “We just did things because we’re all makers and we’re doers.”

“That’s the thing, it’s a really active project,” states Alice. “Things get figured out by doing them.” Despite the multi-layered vision, “It’s not like we’re sat around conceptualising stuff. It’s really natural that way.”
“We live in a movie that no one else will ever see,” sing Black Honey on their ode to friendship ‘Corrine’. They, like Dream Wife, are a band who know what they are, what they can do and what they want to say. They’re eager to show that to the world.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="5836" img_size="full" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Having spent most of the year on the road and at festivals, the band have noticed more people taking an interest. The crowds have been bigger, the voices louder, but Black Honey themselves don’t feel any different. “I feel like I haven’t improved in any of my playing in about three years,” admits Izzy. “If I stop playing every day, I’ll probably forget what a guitar is.”
“It’s weird, isn’t it,” questions Tommy.
“We have people who say we’re so tight, it’s one of those things that when you’re in it, it’s a retrospective, outsiders thing. We’re so in our own little world I feel like we’ve never improved but I’m sure we have. Confidence wise, we’re so comfortable being on stage and I think that shows.”

Tom and Izzy grew up wanting to perform: “I did the really classic thing of hairbrush, mirror and, for the really dramatic points, I would wipe everything off of the front of my dresser in a flourish,” reflects Izzy.
“You must have been so annoying,” pokes Tom.
“It’s what I’ve done my whole life,” she continues. “There are films of me putting on plays in the garden and singing to my imaginary friends when I was a kid. It was not a surprise to anyone when it turns out I’m a musician.”

Chris and Tommy, however, grew up wanting to make music. For Chris, it was his yearly pilgrimage to Reading Festival with Izzy and seeing his favourite bands on stage that lit the fire (“We got to play their last year, so we must be doing something right”), while Tommy remembers a long car journey, a blue Walkman and his only tape, a copy of Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’. “I listened to that for fucking hours. I’ve never wanted to be a performer or be on stage, that sounds kinda weird to me but I always wanted to play music.” Somewhere in the middle of those related but distant desires sits Black Honey. Music and theatre, intimacy and mass-engagement.

The anniversary of when Black Honey first played together is lost to history - “We tried to figure it out the other day, but we got bored” - but once upon a time, the long standing partnership of Chris and Izzy featured Tommy on drums before bassist number three left. Tommy stepped out from behind the kit and their housemate-slash-best friend, who once told Izzy “I’m so happy I’m not in your band because all you do is argue”, offered to play drums as a favour. That was about five years ago. The band still argue, mock and tease but it’s a sibling affection in all its comfortable glory. That tension and that ease around one another bleeds into the music of Black Honey. There’s no pretence, there’s nowhere to hide.

“We did this behind the scenes mutating thing, building it for ages,” explains Izzy. “We tried loads of stupid things that didn’t work and we went through phases where for a year, we only played motorik beats with a Krautrock vibes.”
“I’d still do that if we could,” shrugs Chris. There was a year where the band experimented with pop, then they were a movie-themed band for a while. They have songs from when they invented another band entirely and now, “all the songs that we’ve got, they’re little cherries from all of these weird experiments we’ve been doing for god knows how long.”
“It just fell into place,” smiles Chris.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="5837" img_size="full" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The band have spent most of their lives in and out of bands but as soon as they did Black Honey, “we just knew,” says Izzy. “We knew we had something different. I felt a bit bored as well with generic rock stuff and I wanted something that had a bit of depth to it. In a weird way, it was a rejection of the way people were expecting us to go about things. There’s an undertone of a punk ethos to it, doing something that felt like we’re not going to be the stereotypical grunge band from Brighton. We’re going to do this instead, which is quite out there but we loved it.”

And as sure and certain as the band are in their identity, this isn’t it. “It evolves,” offers Izzy, with Tommy adding: “and I don’t think it will ever stop.”

“It feels like it’s growing, especially with what we have in the pipeline for you. With what we’ve made over the last three months, I just feel like the bubble is becoming bigger. The monster that we’ve made and we’re feeding, it’s growing and it’s becoming more fierce. It’s this unstoppable force.”

That no limits future, “that’s the best bit,” explains Chris. “There’s this point in your head that you want to reach and you’re never going to quite hit it. You’ve just got to keep clawing at it, getting closer and closer, and keep evolving and one day, you think you’ll hit it.” Spoiler alert, “no one ever reaches that point but that’s what I think is so beautiful about it. You just keep trying and keep getting better and better. That’s the freedom of it.”
“And there are no rules.” grins Izzy. “You can change it. You might be wondering down one route, exploring it but if you feel like you want to change it and do something different, you can do. I think that’s the nature of what we’ve created. Black Honey is such an open idea. It’s such a loose term for so many things. Right now it feels very specific but we can go down any avenue we want to.”

Once shrouded in mystery to ensure nothing distracted from the music, it’s now at the point where nothing could detract from what Black Honey are creating. They believed in their music, “it’s the other people we don’t believe in.” Second guessing assumptions of gender, art direction and major label involvement, the band put the music forward. “That was us being, ‘Just fucking listen to what we’ve made because we actually write songs and we’re good at writing them’. The songs speak for themselves, the kids are screaming along. We don’t need to do anything, we’ve got nothing to prove. It’s speaking for itself.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_video link="
" align="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dream Wife and Black Honey are two very individual bands. There’s no one else around like either of them. That’s not by design, it’s just a strong individuality finding a voice. They do share common themes and common appreciations though. And they adore toying with your expectations.

Black Honey love writing about love. “It’s because it’s a universal thing but also, I’m just a bit of a fucking hopeless romantic, really,” says Izzy. “I’m always managing to ruin or sabotage things and there’s always something to say about it. There’s never a dull moment in romance. ‘Hello Today’ is an interesting one because it’s not a sad romantic song, it’s like, ‘Yeah, shit happened, let’s move on’. It’s about looking to the future in an empowering way rather than dwelling on this shit being bad. ‘Yeah, it might have been bad but look to tomorrow’.”

“I wrote a really sad song and that changed into, we call it the disco track. The Italian disco track,” starts Rakel.
“That always happens when you say you wrote the sad song,” smiles Bella.
“It’s the turning it around,” offers Alice. “I’m not heartbroken, fuck you. I’m going to have fun tonight.”
“It’s like crying at the disco,” offers Rakel. “There’s no shame in crying at the disco. There’s no shame in feeling any nostalgic feelings or anything like that. It was funny that this really sad song has became our main party song though.”

That twist is also used by Dream Wife in their colour scheme. From press shots to Lazy clothing, “who take feminine colours, or colours that people say are feminine or are soft and turn it around and empower it. I really like that. Flipping the script. That’s something we do. You think we’re one thing, you see us live and we’re something totally different. Then we play with that.”

Sure, both band’s emerged with an idea and allowed it to grow without losing their identity but sharing it with other people, that’s really fuelled them to push against every wall and every ceiling.
“I think it’s amazing that people can feel like they can be a part of it,” offers Alice. “For me, that’s the most enjoyable part of taking it out there, it’s people. It surprises me the amount of people who don’t feel like they can just do this. Seeing us, they feel like they could. They feel like they could start a band now, that surprises me and it makes it all the more important doing this actually, in terms of a purpose. I didn’t realise that to start with. I think we’ve been lucky in feeling like we can just do this. We’re privileged in that sense, I suppose.”

“I adore the community of people going to shows,” explains Rakel. “We’ve all been teenagers going to our first shows, I still see bands that I’m freaking out over and I love that whole community of audience and stage becoming one. We don’t put up a front. I’m not going to walk past you and pretend I’m more important because I’m slightly raised. That’s what I like about Dream Wife as a project. It’s a weird thing to say it, but we’re all in this together. If you’re having a good time, we’re having a good time. If you were to have a crap time, I’d have a crap time. We’re all just somewhat friends for tonight and maybe the next day. Maybe. Let’s find out.”

“I think it’s interesting about what you say about putting up a front, and we don’t. We try and break that down. Once you’ve broken that down, people feel freer and there’s no pressure or an expectation. At our shows, that’s really important that people can feel like they can just have fun, freak out or whatever. But they can do it with us, We’ll all do it together.”

It’s the movie element of it, isn’t it,” explains Izzy. “When you listen to music, it feels like you’re in your own movie in your head anyway, so we always try to use that as a rough blueprint. How’s it going to make someone feel when they’re in their movie moment. I’m on another planet most of the time anyway, I’m in my own little world so I am a bit further removed from what is actually happening around. We want to share that moment together though. It just means you relate to each other. If they’re at a show, it means they’ve listened to a song and it means they relate to you and you can share that moment even more. You feel like that too? Cool, we’re going to have this together. This moment is just for us. I like that.”

Black Honey and Dream Wife are currently touring the UK. Taken from the October issue of Dork - order a copy now.


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