Before their Blue Shell gig back in March, I had the pleasure of hanging out with one of my favorite bands! Dream Wife is a dream team of powerful women: Rakel Mjöll beautifully screaming on vocals, Alice Go jamming heavy on guitar, and Bella Podpadec constantly shredding on bass. The energy they bring to stage cannot compare to the words I write, and the inspiration that they carry left me in a state of bliss for weeks (lets be real, I’m still in a state of bliss). Their self-titled album dropped in January, and they’ve been busy busy busy touring all around the world.
Sav: How does it feel to have your debut album out?
Rakel Mjöll: It feels like a burrito.
Alice Go: Like a really good burrito that you’ve been watching them make for a little while. Then you can finally taste it and you’re like, „This is exactly what I wanted.“ I hope that everyone else likes the taste too. It seems like they do so far.
Rakel: It feels great to put out an album that you’re essentially proud of. It’s important that you’re proud of your album. Just like Frank Sinatra said, „We did it our way.“
Alice & Bella: Mhhhhmmm
Rakel: It’s a piece, it’s a full body of work; now we get to tour it. So we make albums to be able to tour it. And it’s great!
Sav: I love your album because for me, each track sounds like it’s own little world where you can get lost in it. I mean, it is also a compilation as a full, but I like that each track has its own meaning.
Alice: It’s definitely us three women making music that is this true thing & this is how we’re doing it. I think there are many different shades and tones of womanhood, of many things we’ve experienced. But ultimately we’re three women and this is how it came out. But I think it is multi-faceted in this way that the fact that you can get a lot out of it is really cool.
Rakel: A lot of little stories.
Alice: Yeah, exactly! It’s like a book of short stories that makes one big story or something. Maybe different chapters?
Sav: Maybe different parts of the burrito?
Alice: Haha yeah exactly! Different ingredients.
About a year and a half ago, I was on a train heading toward the middle of no where in Germany. I couldn’t stop listening to Dream Wife’s first EP, EP01, without getting chills up my spine. I frantically started writing in my journal about their sound because I couldn’t believe that these tracks were conveying a powerful energy just through my cheap Apple earphones. You can literally feel the passion behind every guitar riff, each catchy bass line, and the moving lyrics. After seeing them live in March, it is safe to say that their energy multiplies when you catch their live set. It was the dead of winter, and I was sweating through my thick dungarees. I was hugging two of my gal pals, dancing non-stop with other ladies in the crowd, and screaming the lyrics to some of my favorite songs into the microphone with Rakel.
Sav: Did you record the album live so that it sounds like that raw, live energy during your shows? Or did you kind of experiment with it after so that you could create a more unique sound?
Bella: We did both.
Alice: Yeah we recorded some of it multitrack live on tape which we were hoping we would get this instant, more live sound down because the studio environment can be clinically deafening. We wanted to make it fun and like the live shows, which is the energy we were trying to get across from the tracks. Part of it we recorded at Eastcote Studios, in London, multitrack and on tape. And the rest, we did overdubs and stuff and mixed over the following 8 months or something.
Rakel: It’s nice too because the songs, even if we thought that they were fully formed, when you listen and then you walk away and come back, then you’re like „Wait, I’m missing this entire line,“ or „I wanna add this to make it sound really cool.“ But you don’t go overboard.
Sav: What is one pedal you cannot live without? Or a piece of equipment you cannot live without?
Bella: I mean I just use a tuner. You can’t live without a tuner.
Alice: We have pretty basic set-ups, and ultimately I think we need axes that we can thrash and beat up and that aren’t going to fall apart; they are going to hold their own and do us proud. Do you know what I mean? We aren’t pedal geeks so much in this band, I don’t think.
Rakel: It would be funny because we would show up to like a festival or gig and there would be a band where there would be like three guitarists and they bring these massive pedal boxes. And it would sound pretty tight! Then Alice would come. She used to have her pedals in like a child’s pink lunch box. Unfortunately, (but it’s not a gender thing) usually guys have loads of pedals, trying to do all of these different effects, and then Alice would come with her lunch box and be like the loudest person on stage. Like that is soooo cool that you have this tiny lunch box, yet you are making the loudest noises.
Alice: A pedal normally amplifies and revs up the sound, but I think with Dream Wife, we kind of do that to each other because it’s just how we play. The thing that’s really driving it is that energy on stage. Like the way Rakel sings, it’s the distortion within her voice even. We’ve got these things going on where like the actual rawness and physicality of the live shows is actually pushing and driving it, not just pedals. For us it’s like there’s a power and a force in what the live show is all about.
Bella: Wow, no one’s asked us that question before! Geez, I bet boys get asked that a lot.
Rakel: They may talk about their pedals, but they don’t make it rip like you do, Alice.
Sav: Hahaha yeah that’s why I asked! You fucking shred up there, Alice. And this totally goes into my next question. Since I’ve already seen you play live once before, I felt this really authentic and honest vibe on stage— especially with your voice [Rakel], and the lyrics, and how each one of your sounds come together as one. Live, it is super cool to see. Is there something that drives this authenticity?
Rakel: I think it is just by knowing each other. Trusting each other’s respect. It is really just trusting and respecting. Communication as well. Not letting ego drive.
Bella: It’s like you learn how to do this band through playing live shows as well. It’s like we’ve learned about what our sound is, what kind of music we want to make, how we want to perform and how we want to engage with people by doing it. So it’s not like we were ever like, „Ok this is what we want our live show to be like.“ This is just how our live shows ended up because this is how we do it.
Rakel: But it is what it is. Instead of being like, „We’re going to be this, and we’re going to be that,“ just to be it.
Bella: Just let it happen.
Alice: And trust it.
Sav: And that’s how you started too, right? From your uni?
Alice: Exactly. We’ve just been doing it by doing it, rather than questioning it too much, or overthinking it too much. The thing is we sing about communication, trust and respect being kind of key to this operation. We have conversations with each other as three artists, not jut three musicians. I think that’s always been the way, and I think as much as maybe now, maybe it’s harder to understand how that fits. I think it absolutely is at our cores, these are the conversations we are having.
At the start of the gig back in March, there was an extremely tall man standing in the very front, middle row. He continuously stuck his small digital camera right in the band’s faces for the first two songs of the set, and then I had enough. Me and the rest of the ladies behind him were at least two heads shorter and had no view of Blue Shell’s intimate stage. I politely tapped him on the shoulder and asked, „Do you think you can move a little bit to the side so that us shorter people can see the show?“ He looked at me with an empty expression, and turned back around toward the stage. So I tapped him again to nicely ask the same question, then Rakel simultaneously saw what was happening. „You heard the nice lady, please move to the side so people behind you can see,“ Rakel said into the microphone. After realizing that was what the rest of the crowd also wanted, he willingly moved to the side where he could still see and take photos. As the guitar chords of the next song began to play, Rakel mentions before singing, „Now that’s how I like to see my concerts start! Women taking back the space that they deserve!“ Everyone applauds and the show energetically goes on. Dream Wife is an authentic and important band in the music scene right now because they encourage women and non-binary people to have a voice.
Sav: So is there an agenda or ultimate goal for Dream Wife?
Rakel: It’s an ongoing conversation about different things that expand. Like yesterday, there was a lot of amazing women at our show. And a few of them hadn’t seen anything like that before. You could see how important it was to them which is really nice. There were some that were shaking and crying, in a great way. And we were like, „Hey come on!“ And it wasn’t because of you and your ego, it was more that it’s something they hadn’t seen before and it was bringing something out of them. And it’s not, “You have great vocals.” It’s more, I felt this and I felt that. Then they say, „Now I’m going to go home and make a fucking band!“ That’s another conversation that we have. If that’s what is actually happening, then it is so exciting. Every single tiny experience you have is a new conversation— THAT being one of them is so important. And also how do we channel this? What do we do to still connect?
Sav: What gives you hope for women and non-binary people in the pop punk scene that you are in?
Rakel: I have a lot of hope right now!
Alice: We are doing this right now, and things are turning a page and people are acknowledging the wrongs of the industry, or the lack of voices.
Rakel: The fact that women and non-binary people have exciting things to say. And that is the element of punk.
Alice: It’s this new, challenging thing.
Rakel: English punk came out of poverty.
Alice: Yeah, not accepting the status quo and stuff like that.
Rakel: And what is going on now, a lot of it has to do with equality issues and trans issues and women issues. I think this is a really exciting time, and that what makes me believe that what it is these groups are saying is authentic.
Bella: Punk is like angry music, or protest music in a sense. And punk moving the mantle over to female identifying and non-binary people is a powerful thing. Those are the voices that need to be shouted louder.
Sav: Ok, last question! The song you wish you wrote, or favorite lyric of all time.
Alice: What’s the bloody lyric… “I will give you my finest hour, the one I spent watching you shower.” Which song is that from?
Bella: Picture This!
Alice: Yeah, when Debbie Harry said that…
Bella: Yeah, it’s beautiful.
Rakel: It’s so powerful.
Alice: … I remember hearing that when I was little and almost feeling like turned on by that. You know what I mean? It’s like suddenly this woman is really saying, “Yeah I enjoyed watching you.” It was a woman like…
Bella: It was entirely just for her.
Rakel: Just about her own pleasure.
Alice: I think we’ve talked about it before that it is kind of all of us a little bit. We’re all into pretty classic stuff so I feel like this sums us up.
Rakel: And country!
Alice: I mean yeah, like Dolly Parton. Where do you begin?!
Rakel: Not lyrically, but when I heard the guitar in Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, something just clicked and I freaked out. That guitar line in Maps is the equivalent to that Blondie lyric.
Alice: It’s tender, yet still powerful.
Rakel: It is so powerful and so tender. Then when her vocals come in, it’s as if the guitar has already made room for her. It’s strong, it’s so vulnerable.
Alice: They set the tone. And I think it is true because guitars can definitely speak in that way too.
Sav: Well, thank you gals!
Rakel: No problem! Yeah that was fun!
If you missed Dream Wife back in March, don’t you worry! They are heading back to Europe this fall, so be sure to see if they are playing near you so you don’t miss out on this one of a kind band.
03.11 – Mainz, Schon Schön
16.11 – Essen, Hotel Shanghai
18.11 – Berlin, Musik & Frieden
19.11 – Hannover, Lux
21.11 – Bremen, Lagerhaus