SINCE releasing their explosive, punk-fuelled debut album in 2018, Dream Wife’s rapid ascent has shown no signs of slowing down. After going onto play over 150 gigs that year alone, conquering Europe, America and Australia along the way, the trio have been lauded for their biting punk anthems and even more so for their incendiary live performances, consistently flying the flag for female empowerment while carefully carving out a unique and inclusive space for themselves and their increasingly fervent fanbase. Now the trio are preparing to invite us into their world once again with the release of their eagerly anticipated second album ‘So When You Gonna….’
Of course, no one could have predicted the circumstances which now surround its release. Slated for arrival on 3rd July, this album cycle, which began in March with the release of ‘Sports!’, will be remarkably different from their debut with no live shows or festivals happening over the summer. However, when we catch up with the band’s lead guitarist Alice Go in the midst of lockdown, spirits are high.
“We’re all really excited to share this music with everyone. Obviously, the context has changed – we were thinking we’d be going to play and share these songs with people on the festival circuit this year and really set them free in the world.
“There’s definitely a hope it will still reach the people we want it to reach in the ways we want it to though. There’s still a lot of hope for people listening in isolation – when you’re a teenager and you’re listening to music by yourself you can find a different connection to it “
“We’re all really sad the festival season is out this year. For the foreseeable there won’t be live shows but it’ll be a euphoric moment when we come together and play these songs for everyone in a room. Ultimately though, we’re just really excited to share them. It’s obviously just a different context to anything we could have expected”
Speaking from her home in London which she shares with Dream Wife bassist Bella Podpadec, Alice says that they are doing well in lockdown, focussing on their health and Facetiming Rakel who is back home in Iceland. “Through touring and recording we’re quite good at spending a lot of time together and finding the upside in having a lot of downtime together. We’re lucky to have a garden so we’ve had BBQs and our housemate is a DJ so she’s been doing some sets for us in the front room in the stuff” she says.
If lockdown has taught us anything at all, it has taught us the importance of taking a step back and slowing down. After a life-changing couple of years and a relentless touring schedule that had taken them all over the world, that’s exactly what Dream Wife did at the end of 2018.
“We came off touring the first album and took two months off around Christmas and the start of 2019. We were all back in London at the start of February and we just got to writing. We were like this well-oiled machine as far as a band goes as we’d been playing so many shows so we got in a room and threw all these ideas out there.
“There was a lot of stuff we’d wanted to try for a long time and we were finally getting to do it. There was a lot of enthusiasm and energy for it. I think getting that physical rest, pausing and coming back to it, meant it felt really organic”
Recorded by Marta Sologni at Pony Studios in London Fields and mixed and mastered by Grace Banks and Heba Kadry, the creative process also saw the band work alongside an all-female production team.
“We worked with Marta who is an incredible producer, sound engineer Grace Banks and the record was mastered by Heba Kadry in New York. We were lucky to have this amazing team of women on this record and it really felt like it was the only way we could record. We were practising what we preached. To quote ‘Sports Team’ (the album’s lead single) we were putting our money where our mouth is and it felt important to do it that way.”
Recovery and reflection proved to be key factors in kickstarting the writing process for the album. Re-energised and fuelled by a renewed sense of purpose, they were able to rediscover their creative spark and any second album fears were quickly thrown out the window.
“We had a wild couple of years prior to the beginning of 2019 when we started writing. It was a time of reflection and being present with each other as friends. It was nice to stand still and reflect and because of that, the album goes to really sensitive places at times.”
“I think the whole process of this album was more reflective than writing and recording the first. A lot of it is based on the live show and trying to get that raw energy in there but on this record, we’ve been able to really spend time in the studio with a producer who understands and hold that conversation with her. We’re really proud of this as an elevation of our prior sound”
The band’s self-titled debut was an absolute punk stomper, full of sharp, melodic punk tunes, endless charisma and fuelled by a fierce, bullish attitude. Prioritising social justice and crazy fun in equal measure, it opened up conversations about gender equality, body autonomy, solidarity, empowerment and more. Now some of indie music’s most recognisable advocates for these important issues, it’s only natural that these lyrical themes would continue into their second record. This time though, everything feels sharper and more amped-up than before – from the more dynamic instrumentals to the punchier melodies to Rakel Mjoll’s direct lyrics that go straight for the jugular.
So far we’ve heard lead single ‘Sports!’, an equal parts satirical and equal parts celebratory look at the world of sport via electrifying guitars, winking vocal asides and schoolyard chants, the poppy rose-tinted nostalgia of ‘Hasta La Vista’ which shows their softer side and the album’s title track – a powerful display of self-empowerment and body autonomy delivered via riotous punk-rock.
“We’re following the conversation from the first record” Alice says. “For example, like ‘Somebody’ – we follow through with that conversation in these new forms on this record. It’s about self-empowerment, being unapologetic, finding solidarity with women and non-binary people through music. That has always been the flag we’ve flown and we’re following through with these themes”
“We’re also pushing the extremes of these and taking it to different areas sonically. We kinda all got better at playing our instruments as well and challenging ourselves. Lyrically, it’s sitting still and reflecting after a couple of years of touring. It just kinda all came out and the experiences we’ve had over last couple of years are woven into this. It definitely feels like a follow-up and an elevation of the first record. We’re proud of it conceptually and sonically”
If the core elements of punk music are all about tearing down traditional structures and promoting the idea that everyone should be free to be who they are, then Dream Wife are surely the modern equivalent. While the trio wouldn’t necessarily self-define as punk though, Alice shares that her early listening habits were rooted in the genre.
“When I was a teenager I was obsessed with The Ramones and the immediacy of the live show and the power of music in that punk context. It was an instinctive thing for all of us. As a teenager I was definitely into the rawness and power of the guitar”
“Punk is in our bones but I don’t think we would necessarily self-define as a punk band. When we are defined like that I don’t disagree – it’s like a tapestry of lots of different elements overlapping.”
“We wouldn’t be doing this is it wasn’t something we believed in, if it wasn’t a statement worthwhile spreading. We have to do this as it matters to us. It’s definitely punk in the way it questions the structures of the quota. We’re a punk band in the internet generation”
Crafting a strong, intimate relationship with this particular generation has proved to be one of Dream Wife’s biggest triumphs. From their pre-gig meet-ups to their support for local female and non-binary talent to working hard to create safe gig spaces for women to the introduction of their new podcast and more, there’s a real community spirit that surrounds the trio and the way they engage with fans. They’re a band who know the value of real, tangible moments of human connection and those who have seen them live can attest to this. Their incendiary show has almost become like their raison d’étre – more like a euphoric, revolutionary dance party than an actual gig.
Alice says “The live show is a direct and fun part of being in a band and playing music and with all of us together, that’s emphasised further. It has always been the way that our shows are a very direct and present thing, a conversation with everyone there. I can’t remember when our shows weren’t that way, it’s always been that way. It’s just the way we are. We share such a strong connection together and it’s amazing thing to share that with everyone else. We’re lucky to have such amazing fans”
TTV recalls the first time we saw the band live, four years ago in the basement of Nice N Sleazys on a bill with Black Honey and a fledgling new Glasgow group now known as Lucia & the Best Boys, who along with The Ninth Wave and Walt Disco she cites as some of her favourite Scottish bands. Even then the Dream Wife live experience was a visceral, no-holds-barred affair.
Recently though, they have added another string to their bow with the announcement of a brand new podcast. With the same name as the new album ‘So When You Gonna….’ the podcast is another opportunity to engage with fans, share skills and open up important conversations about the music industry, songwriting and other creative pursuits. Featuring a series of in-depth interviews with different friends, collaborators and creatives from different backgrounds, guests include album producer Marta Salogni, Girli and more.
“We’d been talking about it for a year. We thought it would be really cool to have a chat with the people we’d worked with and the collaborators that had surrounded us in the creative process for this record. There was a lot to say – these are amazing people with stories to tell and it was about making something of that”
“These were the kinda conversations I wish I’d heard when I was a teenager. We wanted to promote the attitude that you can do it your own way and on your terms, and educate people in some sense. I really didn’t feel there was that kind of conversation available to me when I was a younger. I hope it’s positive, educating and empowering to hear people explain how they got into certain creative careers. For us, it’s a conversation that just felt like it should be out there”
With the podcast now ticking over, the countdown is officially on for the release of the second album. Slated for release on 3rd July via Lucky Number, ‘So When You Gonna…’ may be arriving in the strangest of times but it looks set to take Dream Wife to new unassailable heights. When lockdown is over and the world is slowly back to normal, what’s the thing they’re most looking forward to?
“To play a live show as a band and to connect with the people who are engaging with our message. To be in the same space and share in that moment of solidarity, it’s so important for us. That will be an absolutely euphoric moment as and when that happens”
‘So When You Gonna…’ is released on 3rd July via Lucky Number. Full tour dates for 2021 can be seen HERE.