Punk Trio Dream Wife is ‘Not Going to Be Polite Anymore for the Sake of Being Polite’

The Project

Social Lubrication, out June 9 on Lucky Number

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The Origin

Although created in Brighton, England, Dream Wife’s first venue shows were in Canada: Bella Podpadec, Alice Go and Rakel Mjöll decided to create a band that only toured Canada as a performance art project for university in 2014 (Mjöll was studying performing arts at the time), then used it as an excuse to visit friends across the ocean. The newly formed band was crashing on couches and playing house parties with a four-song set. “When we got back from Canada, we sort of realized we had such a great time and that we should maybe pursue this and play a few shows in England,” says Mjöll.

The raucous punk band became more than an art project after that — though Mjöll is quick to point out that she “got a top mark for it” at university. The band name Dream Wife, which was decided on before they ever even played a note together, is the subtle encapsulation of a band who takes their art seriously, but also have a playful side.

“We are each other’s wives. Being in a band is a very serious committed relationship,” says Podpadec, adding that the name is also a take on fantasy role wives play in society. “It’s twisting [the term] around and doing something a bit different with it, reclaiming it and being like, ‘me and my platonic besties are gonna make some ridiculous music and tour the world together.’”

The Sound

With their self-titled debut album, the band established themselves as a bombastic punk outfit. The audience at their gigs is just as likely to clap along with the anthem pulses as they are to mosh in full force. Dream Wife sounds big and brash, topped off by Mjöll vocals that transition from lulling listeners into a false sense of security to screaming out a torrent of rage.

Inspired by Le Tigre, Blondie, Robots in Disguise and CSS, the band says they were out to make people dance, play heavy guitars and not “sound pretty.” Their sound is about “allowing yourself to be silly and not taking yourself too seriously, but of course, take the music seriously,” says Mjöll. “The play element that Le Tigre have has been such a huge influence.”

The Record

Dream Wife is a band best experienced live ,and that’s exactly what they wanted to capture on their latest, Social Lubrication. “We’re not the kind of band that just goes into a studio and writes an album in the studio. It has be more tactile than that,” Go tells Billboard. “It was definitely about getting that raw live sound down, but still elevating it in some sense. The fun and the sense of humor comes across in this, but also it’s still political and still making a statement. It feels like we’ve come into our own in terms of getting our sound down on record.”

The 10 tracks for the album were written as the band return to stages following the pandemic and celebrate what Mjöll calls “a lust for life.

“It’s that joy of being back in a community and finding everything attractive,” she continues, “finding music attractive, finding a festival site attractive, finding every single person you meet attractive.

“Also, one thing that’s important to mention here – this is the first album that Alice is producing,” says Mjöll, “and who else better knows your sound than yourself or your wife?”

The Future

After having the pleasure of opening for Le Tigre in London earlier this month, Dream Wife is set to bring their new album on the road: the summer will see the band trekking throughout the U.K. playing festivals including TRNSMT, Secret Garden Party, Forest Fest and Deer Shed Festival. In July, they will also make an appearance at LungA Festival in Iceland. Headlining dates will kick off in North America before the wives head back to the U.K.

The Advice Every Indie Artist Needs to Hear

Go: “Get people around you that you trust and believe in your vision. For us three, that’s always been our secret weapon. We can always support each other and we’ve got that intimate network of people that will be looking out for you and will have your back. Having people around you that you can trust and having the best intentions at heart is so crucial to doing it you way and on your terms and not standing for anything less.”

Mjöll: “This is a marriage, and it’s important to choose a partner that can support you when you’re up and when you’re down and that you can feel vulnerable around.”

The Artist They Believe Deserves More Attention

Mjöll: “Thus Love. Absolutely obsessed with them. They are one of the best live acts I have seen this year, and I have seen a lot of good live acts. But Thus Love completely blew us away. They are all trans as well. Incredible performers, incredible guitar. They are this three-piece, loud band with so much joy.”

Go: “From London town, I would have to say Jessica Winter. She is a force to be reckoned with. She can hold it by herself live. When I first saw her, she had a live band with her, but now she’s performing by herself and it’s amazing when you see a performer when it’s just them on stage and they can hold it and they’re just so captivating. She’s a musical genius as well.”

Mjöll: “It is incredible seeing [Winter] perform because she just takes one glove off and the crowd goes wild. She’s wearing a coat on stage and, yeah, she’s so funny and hilarious.”

Go: “She’s a freak for sure.”

Mjöll: “Such a stunning freak.”

What Needs to Change About the Music Industry

Podpadec: “We want all kinds of different people in all kinds of different positions, not just having diversity in artists. We also want diversity in terms of who’s running record labels, who’s doing the DJing, who’s doing the radio-plugging, the crews on tour. We need all different sorts of people in different positions of power, and then we can change it.”

Go: “It’s one thing for there to be diversity in performers and artists, but it’s all a very surface level thing. The industry, behind the scenes, there needs to be more diversity and without that, things won’t change.”

Mjöll: “I’m also going to say ageism. There is a lot of ageism in music – in any kind of entertainment field – that is so unnecessary. As many of my favorite artists grow, so does their music grow. Blackstar being David Bowie’s last record – what an incredible piece of work that is. Again, it comes from those that are in a position of power that say who’s allowed and who’s not allowed to age.”

The Takeaway That They Hope Fans Have When They Hear the Album

Podpadec: “In terms of what Social Lubrication means, when a system is broken, what [is] the mechanism that we use in order to smooth over that broken machine? We could be talking about capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy – any of these. That are not designed to benefit the people that are existing within them. Rather than naming that this machine is broken and we need to fix it, we end up greenwashing where really big brands are like, ‘Oh, look, we recycled a bit of stuff’ or ‘Oh, we’ll put trans people in the adverts and that makes everything better.’ The visibility stuff often actually leads to people being in more danger, if it is not grounded in this restructuring of the systems that are designed to harm us and designed to harm the most vulnerable people within society. So the social lubrication is, we’re not going to be polite anymore for the sake of being polite, and I’m not going to be polite in order to make you more comfortable.”

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