Dream Wife aren't your average band. Like a fire burning hotter than the proverbial thousand suns, they're here to fuck you up.
"Do I amuse you? Do I confuse you?" Rakel Mjoll sings on ‘Act My Age'. Whatever the response Dream Wife seek to invoke in an audience, there's no shirking the raw power behind it. The group have come a long way since their origins as an art school performance project. Livid, loud, and unapologetically proud, with the release of their debut album Dream Wife are determined to make their voices heard – and they'll be damned if they aren't going to have some fun in the process.
"It's definitely like eating a hot chilli or something," Rakel laughs, attempting to sum up the group's first full-length release. "People that have listened to it have all said that they put it on right before they went out. That's the best compliment you could ever get." "It's facilitating good times!" bassist Bella Podpadec echoes enthusiastically. "Music is such an amazing tool for bringing people together and sharing feelings." And in a nutshell, that's exactly what Dream Wife are all about.
Releasing a record that the group describe as being "for getting out your anger or your lipstick," their self-titled album is the sound of a band raring to take the world by storm. Whether unhinging pent-up emotion or kicking out footloose and fancy-free, Dream Wife forge strength through every facet of human experience. "We want you to cry, we want you to dance, and we want you to scream at the world," Bella expresses.
Contradictory though those motions might seem, the band embody them all with a strength so vivid it practically takes form. "Lyrically, I think a lot of the songs are showing an unapologetic side to yourself, but at the same time it's still sensible," Rakel describes. "The name Dream Wife is putting one face to a woman. I think throughout this album lyrically it's showing different faces of yourself."
"A woman be sensible. A woman can be sexy. A woman can be unapologetic," she states. "She can also be angry. She can also be sensitive." "You can be all of those things and be strong," Bella interjects. "There's no weakness in the many faces of a woman." Singing of aggression as much as attraction, thriving on freewheeling sensation as much as they sing about more serious topics, Dream Wife are as dynamic and multi-faceted as the world that surrounds them. Embodying all of that within eleven songs, on their debut album, the outfit demonstrate a vivacity that sits them well ahead of the curve.
"We didn't realise this, but there's also a theme of looking at events that have happened, looking back at them and understanding them," Rakel contemplates. "It's like an exploration of events to make sense of it in the now," Bella portrays. Drawing from everything they know, the result is an outspoken presentation of everything Dream Wife have come to be.
"I think that's really interesting, when you are understanding, and - oh my god, this is really cliché, but…" Rakel laughs, pausing to adopt a preaching tone before continuing. "That's what your 20s are all about." "That's what life's all about!" Bella exclaims, laughing with her bandmate. "It's self-exploration and understanding things, understanding everything," Rakel offers, with a little more seriousness. "Everything that happened to you, or to mates of yours, or stuff you're going through... Instead of blocking it off, just understanding it. Learning something every day."
A soundtrack to discovering and owning who you are, Dream Wife's debut album is equal parts unabashed and unashamed. Born out of "a windowless room in Peckham" ("freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer"), it's been a long time coming. The band signed to Lucky Number in the first half of 2016, and the expectation and excitement surrounding a full-length release from the outfit has been on the rise ever since.
"We took at least half a year or more to find the exact sound we wanted," Rakel recalls, "and I think we did." "It was important to give it the time to let it become what it was going to become," Bella expands. "To me, it feels like the perfect time for it to be released to the world." Having established their identity and their intentions through their storming live shows, the time has never felt so ripe.
The vigour of their debut album owes a lot to the prowess the band have built up on stage. "So far, we've done this primarily as a live band beyond anything else," Bella details. "It was kind of trying to capture some of that rawness and that energy." "It's been a process of getting a raw, live sound down," Rakel agrees, "and then looking at adding in a different guitar, or..." "Looking at how we can elevate this thing to somewhere even bigger and higher," Bella finishes.
"Things fell into place very quickly with songs, I think," the bassist reflects. "Then it was playing them live and getting a feel for them with a crowd and what reaction was like, and that informing their journey as well." "It's really good because then you can understand the song," Rakel enthuses. "Where do they get bored? Or why are they screaming for more?"
It's not just the band's sound that's influenced by their live performance, but their very ethos itself. The group have established a Bad Bitch Club, purpose-built to celebrate the audience that pack out Dream Wife's live shows. A reference to the band's already infamous Spice Girls referencing single ‘F.U.U'; the Bad Bitch Club started when they were joined on tour by photographer and frequent collaborator Meg Lavender.
"She would find people, take their portraits, and ask them if they were a bad bitch," Rakel describes. "It was sort of taking the word 'bitch' and using it for empowerment, and the phrase 'bad bitch': how to be an angry woman in a good sense and use anger as an amazing tool, use it for fun. I think that's an exciting conversation to have with anyone at the show at any age, men as well."
That conversation sparked through the Bad Bitch Club has extended beyond its context and into the wider forum of safe spaces at shows. "It's just so incredible being able to play to both young girls and teenagers and any age, and them to feel perfectly safe at a gig," Rakel marvels. "To emphasise that with all these bad bitches..." she trails off, laughing. "These bad bitches can take you down!"
Ensuring their shows are a safe space for everyone attending them is something Dream Wife consistently make a top priority. "There's this part of our set when I call forth the bad bitches," Rakel portrays. "I call them forth, and I ask them to take their space. I have to ask all the men in the front - if there are any, which there usually is – ‘guys, it's time for you to step aside for the bad bitches'."
"There's a bunch of girls who don't necessarily know each other, and they're making mosh pits, they're rocking out, they're stage invading..." the frontwoman enthuses. "It's so cool to create this kind of community. All that they have in common is that they're a bad bitch, and they feel that way, and they feel empowered. They've all been brought into this, and they feel safe, and they're just having a great time together."
"Empowering women to feel like they deserve to be in the gig environment and deserve to take up as much space as they need..." Bella continues. "Going to a gig as a teenager myself, I remember it really not being that way and feeling very small and sheepish." It's a feeling that will be familiar to a lot of people – and that's exactly what makes it such an important issue to raise, and exactly why Dream Wife build an awareness into every one of their live shows.
"It was something that you'd think is the norm, maybe, which is disgusting," Rakel states. "Being a small teenager, 13 years old, and finding it normal that there's a 40-year-old man groping you, or feeling an erection behind you, and you're just watching a gig..." she trails off in disdain. "All this stuff that you're just sort of like, 'Whatever, I'm just going to watch the music.' Having that throughout your teenage years and then adulthood as well, there's so much stuff that you should've just called out."
"But there was no one to say it to," Bella counters. "There was no space for that conversation." "No, there wasn't even a platform for that," Rakel agrees. So this is exactly what Dream Wife are ensuring they play their part in creating. "It's important to empower people to feel like they can talk about these things," Bella expresses. "And not just talk, but shut it down!" Rakel exclaims.
"It's exciting to be living through a time of cultural change and a time when we're asking these questions," the bassist enthuses. "In England, there are 14+ gigs," Rakel states. "Those are such fun gigs. If you have all the kids having such a wild, good time, it filters up through the whole room, whatever age you are. Especially when you have a group of people that feel safe and are having a good time, the energy just changes so much."
Through their Bad Bitch Club and continued work with groups like Girls Against, safe spaces are a cause that Dream Wife will not only continue to fight to create and maintain, but urge everyone else to work for too. "This is something that is so important, and I think every single band should be talking about right now, and making this a really high priority," Rakel compels. "Literally, if you feel uncomfortable at a gig we'll take that person and kick them out," she states. "It's as simple as that. It's something that should be raised everywhere now, and hopefully will be."
Expressing that it's "definitely a priority for our touring now," this is something audiences far and wide will soon get to be a part of as the band ready to take their debut record around the world. "It's going to be exciting taking this album on the road, whether that's to Tunbridge Wells or Tokyo," Rakel laughs. Wherever it takes them, Dream Wife are making every moment matter.
"If it makes a young teenage girl want to scream and punch her wall and then pick up an instrument, go to a gig, make a mosh pit..." Rakel comments of the record, "that will make me the happiest person. Any age girl really. Any woman. Pick up an instrument. Please," she pleads. "Have fun and be strong." "Have fun, be strong, and be yourself," Bella amends. "Completely be unapologetic," Rakel advises. "It's your world now."
Dream Wife's self-titled debut album is out now. Taken from the February 2018 issue of Dork, order a copy below.