"I'm hoping for the abolition of capitalism," Bella Podpadec declares, "but I guess if that happens, it probably isn't good news for the band?" she laughs. You don't need us to tell you good news has been in somewhat short supply of late. We're in the middle of a global pandemic. The country is struggling through a state of imposed lockdown. Entire industries are on hold – live music among them – for the foreseeable imminent future. This isn't how they planned to release their second record, but as they always set out to, Dream Wife are using their platform to make a difference where they can.
In this uncertain period of isolation, a sense of community is hard to find. But fostering a sense of community – a space for their audience to be empowered, a space for womxn to be the 'Bad Bitches' they are – is what Dream Wife are all about. When it came to recording their second album last year, working with an all-female production team was something the trio knew they had to do. "It was a real practicing-what-we-preach situation," Alice Go recalls.
Resolved to (as they sing on lead single 'Sports!') "put your money where your mouth is," the band found the collaborator they were looking for in Marta Salogni (whose previous credits include working with the likes of Björk, FKA Twigs, and Frank Ocean). "Less than 5% of albums are produced by female-identifying people," Alice informs. "It felt like a really important thing for this [record] to be produced by Marta and this incredible team of women," she enthuses. "It's the reason we do this."
Described with much laughter from the band as "what happens when you stop touring," 'So When You Gonna…' is Dream Wife turned up to eleven: their boldest, brashest, most tongue-in-cheek, and most emotionally exposed yet. "This band has just been full-on go, go, go, since we started," Rakel Mjöll reflects. After promoting their debut album with a hectic tour schedule that saw the band play over 200 shows in 18 months, the trio took six weeks off, "including Christmas!" Rakel laughs. "That was the longest time that we had actually been apart from each other."
It might not seem like long, but for a band who built so much of their first record around their live show, taking a break presented the opportunity to do things differently. "Our live shows really guided us on how the songs should be on record," Alice recalls. "It's really great to see people engaging with something that they've never heard before, their reaction, how their bodies move," Rakel enthuses. "Was there a song that everyone wanted to dance to? Was there a song that you were screaming at the end?" she asks. "I think between us there was like this real understanding of the songs as living, breathing entities that kind of updated and reformed every time we played them live," Bella agrees. "Which is obviously very different now, releasing music at a time where we can't play live."
Returning to home comforts after the better part of a year and a half spent on the road turned out to be the inspiration and reinvigoration the group needed to write their second record. "With this album, we actually had time to elevate the songs in a way we never really have before," Alice enthuses. "It was such a freeing feeling coming back into a writing space knowing that is your focus," Rakel agrees. "It's time to be able to fully give yourself over to a creative process."
As a result, 'So When You Gonna…' showcases Dream Wife at their most dynamic yet. Offering the band's trademark raw energy in full ferocious force, the record is as playful as it is pained as it is empowered as it is everything in between. From the sassed-up refrains of 'Sports!' (giving the album its gleefully commanding introduction of "Fuck. Sorry. Fuck. Please will you so kindly start again?") to laid bare ballad 'After The Rain', the record is a snapshot of life and emotion in all of their infinite variety.
"Over the course of that whole year, on a personal level, I had a lot of quite chaotic relationship stuff going on," Bella admits. "It was really interesting creating these songs alongside experiencing these emotional ups and downs, especially after having toured so much and not given any attention to your personal life for years," she laughs. "I feel like this body of songs helped me understand what I was going through more," she continues as her bandmates agree, "and also what I was going through helped me to understand the songs more."
It's not just their own music and their own experiences that have proved educational. Venturing into the medium of podcasts, the group are sharing an ongoing series of conversations with friends, collaborators, and creatives. "We learned so much from working in the studio with Marta, from the people that we collaborate with, from people that we admire…" Rakel enthuses. "We were just having such interesting conversations we wanted people to get in on them, to share them, to be a part of them."
The 'So When You Gonna…' podcast shines a light on everything from songwriting and production to coding and magic and more besides. "It feels like the kind of conversations I wish I could have heard when I was a teenager," Alice expresses. "Normalising positions in the creative industries for non-males is really important, and I think it was a way to shine a light on that." "Hearing their routes through the creative industry, and not glamorising it the whole time," Rakel describes, "those are the podcasts I love because they're human. They're real."
At a time when contact with people outside of our households has been prohibited, that sense of something human to connect with is ever more valued. It might be a while until we can let loose at shows together again (Dream Wife's next tour is scheduled for April / May 2021), but with the release of 'So When You Gonna…' the band are doing everything they can to keep their connection alive.
"For me, listening to music right now feels like this teenage feeling of finding a kind of a connection, or tapping into some kind of emotion, on a bigger scale, outside of your own situation in the immediate space before you," Alice conveys. "I'm really excited to see how people digest [the new album] in this situation where people are physically distanced and isolating." "When the album's out, other people can develop their own relationships and their own meanings with the songs," Bella affirms, "and other peoples' meanings and interpretations can then kind of fuel and feed your own understanding." Her bandmates are quick to enthuse with her. "I can't wait to see what that conversation is."
What the future might hold is uncertain. Where we go from here is unclear. As Dream Wife ready to share their second album with the world, perhaps what's next could be best summed up by the band themselves on buoyant album standout 'Validation'. "This could be something special," they sing, "let's see."
Taken from the July issue of Dork. Dream Wife's album 'So When You Gonna...' is out 3rd July.
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