As I made my way to The Old Blue Last on Tuesday night, I felt what can only be described as an overwhelming level of fan girl excitement (probably not the most professional statement to make at the start of an interview, but stick with me). I’ve somehow managed to miss all of Dream Wife‘s gigs in the last 6 months, and I’ve been told they’re a band that can only be fully appreciated when seen live; so I’m excited to see them and speak to them for the first time.
I’ve got my list of questions ready, and I’m praying my face doesn’t go embarrassingly red when I eventually meet Alice, Bella & Rakel, who have been touring their ‘poolside pop with a bite’ across the country for the last year. I’m taken up (several) flights of stairs to the back room where I’m introduced to lead singer Rakel, who is replying to messages from friends on her phone. She explains that if her friends don’t arrive before 7:30, they probably won’t make it in to the venue – it’s a free gig but it’s ‘sold out’ on DICE almost twice over.
We’re quickly joined by Guitarist Alice and Bassist Bella who share Rakel’s concerns about not being able to get their friends in to the gig. We sit down to chat, and I immediately relax because they’re charismatic, calm and really funny. They’re the kind of girls you’d want to meet in a bar or a mosh pit on a night out, and immediately inhale more alcohol and live music with.
Even with their intense pre-show schedule, they’re gracious with their time and more than happy to discuss their excitement and anticipations for the show, the projects they worked on last year, and that incredible new video for ‘FUU’…
Hello Dream Wife! You’re about to play to a sold out crowd as part of DIY’s ‘Hello 2017’ tour at The Old Blue Last. How are you feeling about tonight’s gig?
Rakel: We’re really excited to play and it’s a beautiful venue, but size-wise it’s a bit stressful. We’re going to be playing to such a cramped crowd, we’re a little concerned about where to go if we need to get on and off stage.
Bella: Yeah, I’m excited to play and I know it’s going to be great, but that’s the one thing that’s stressing us out really.
Rakel: I’m excited to see a band called Venture Lows though. They’re supporting us and our friend’s son is in the band. All of the band’s playing tonight are great actually, so I think that stage will already be sweated out by the time we get there.
Bella: We’re excited to go on the DIY tour as well. We’ve been mostly recording and then, oh wait, we had Christmas off…
Rakel: I think Christmas was the first break we’ve actually had since…last Christmas? (laughs)
Bella: Everyone was like “awh, it must be so nice to have this time where you can just relax?” and we were like “yeah, this is my only time to relax until next Christmas…” (laughs)
Rakel: It’s a really beautiful thing though! It just feels like you’re living your life the way that you really want to live it, as hippy as that sounds. I haven’t been doing stuff professionally that I’ve not enjoyed.
Alice: Yeah, everything’s just really exciting right now, so ‘being busy’ doesn’t really feel like ‘being busy’ really.
We’re briefly and accidentally interrupted by Dama Scout who are supporting the band, asking if the room’s only for Dream Wife’s equipment/stuff, to which the girls laugh and kindly inform them the space is for all the bands performing tonight.
R: Let’s never be that kind of band that are like “errr no this room’s only for us. You can only have one water and don’t touch anything…” (laughs)
B: (to me) I’ve just realised that you could totally quote that out of context and make us sound awful.
I won’t, I swear! You filmed a music video for your track ‘FUU’ at The Moth Club last year which features your fans going mad to the song. What inspired the track, and what’s it like watching your fans when you’re on stage playing it?
A: Oh God, there was that one middle-aged guy who was just stood directly below Rakel once, staring at her, miming all the words to the song…
B: He just took the song completely out of context.
A: But normally people freak out and it’s super fun and that’s what the song’s for.
R: Originally the song started out as our take on the theme tune from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That was the starting point. It all started with Will Smith.
All good things do…
R: The song is actually about cutting your hair, and nobody really knows that. Everyone thinks its a really grotesque song but it’s actually about haircuts. When someone has the power to fuck up your look, it’s a very scary thought (laughs). Now we have a drummer, the crowds go more even more crazy when they hear it.
A: Yeah, it’s like a stadium beat and everyone just goes mad. It’s really cool.
I’m looking forward to hearing it tonight. You’re going to be supporting Sleigh Bells on their UK tour and The Kills on their 15th anniversary tour this year. What are you looking forward to most about these shows?
A: Both of those bands are our genuinely some of our favourites. We’re so excited to play with these legends.
B: So it’s kind of ridiculous that we get to go on tour with them.
R: We weren’t really sure if we’d get the Sleigh Bells gigs because when Alice met the lead singer…
A: I bit Alexis on the cheek! (laughs)
R: We’re with the same label (Lucky Number) so Alice was lucky enough to meet them and she bit Alexis’ cheek really hard, and left a mark apparently, so we weren’t really sure if we’d get to tour with them.
A: I think she was okay with it, she commented on the picture saying I could bite her cheek any time (laughs).
You certainly know how to leave a mark!
Rakel – Before the end of 2016 you performed at the Bands4Refugees charity gig at Kamio with Wolf Alice, Slaves, Swim Deep, Bloody Knees, and Ollie from Years & Years. You covered Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’. Why did you choose to cover this song?
Rakel: I love Dolly Parton. She is my favourite lyricist. I really like her way with words.
That was a fun night. I was such a newbie, it was so fun playing the show because it was interesting being with a bunch of bands who had toured before already and being like – “Hi! I’m the new kid!” – but they were all so lovely and kind.
Everyone worked really hard on their songs too. We had so many practices and everyone took it very seriously. It was a really sweet end to the year. And I loved Ollie. He was just the best. It was my dream to sing the Dolly song as well, and I didn’t fuck it up (laughs).
You all modelled for Vivienne Westwood’s unisex fashion project that celebrates the androgynous toga. What was it like collaborating with Vivienne and other creatives on this project?
R: It was freezing. We went on to Black Heath and became blue…
A: We were surrounded by crows and we didn’t realise that the bodies of people who had died in the plague had been buried on Black Heath, so the crows were like “death is here” and we were standing there in these unisex togas just like (starts laughing) it felt like a dream…
R: They’re really wonderful, the Vivienne Westwood crowd. It was really great collaborating with them.
A: They wanted us to play around and add our own style too, so in that sense we were able to wear the togas as we wanted and there were so many different ways to do that. It was such a surreal experience.
R: They’ve been very kind to us. We went to London Fashion Week and we went to some parties and it was like a scene out of Zoolander. It was great, and it was good to kind of realise that it’s all a show, it’s like being in a circus. It was cool.
You all studied fine art & visual art at University, and Dream Wife was initially an art project that blossomed in to a band. Aside from the Westwood project and your music, do you still find time to create other forms of art?
A: We collaborate with a lot of other creatives in London and elsewhere, so with Dream Wife it’s not just about the recordings or an album, it’s bigger than that. We’re thinking about the artwork, what the videos will look like, and what the vision is aesthetically.
For the show we filmed at Halloween at the Moth Club, Bella built the whole set in her bedroom out of cardboard. We are still really hands on in other ways, but the music has taken up more of our time.We just wanted to put on a show where you feel like you’re immersed in a world, and people can feel like a part of that.
Finally, any bands/albums you can recommend listening to?
B: The Garden Centre
A: Definitely Nova Twins.
R: I love Solange’s new album. That changed my life. She has a way of speaking to people that I’ve not heard before.
A: There’s so much new music it’s hard to choose.
R: There are a lot of good bands in London. I mean, we’re based in Brighton, but we were never really part of a band scene, we were just studying Art at Uni and had friends there. It’s fun to come to London and not realise you’re part of a scene. It’s nice going to a bar and realising most people in there are musicians.
A: Yeah, we were kind of in the art bubble a bit. Even when we’re back in Brighton it’s cool to realise who else is making music and that this scene does exist and you are part of it.
Dream Wife are most certainly ‘part of it’ after their sweaty show at Old Blue Last. Huge thanks to Alice, Bella & Rakel for answering my questions. Follow Dream Wife on Facebook for more updates.
Photo Credit: Francesca Allen