Dream Wife is more than just a band, Dream Wife is a way of life. You’ll struggle to find a tighter knit trio than the fabulously fierce Rakel Mjöll (vocals), Alice Go (guitar) and Bella Podpadec (bass), whose art school roots have informed their all-encompassing aesthetic and sharp eye for detail. This band aren’t just about bashing out insanely good guitar bangers that conjure up visions of Blondie by way of Bikini Kill, ESG and Pat Benetar – though on the songs that make up their debut album, out 2018, they certainly do that too – they’re about creating a wonderful world to dive into headfirst and everyone is invited along for the ride.
“We’re definitely a pop band,” explains Alice of their sound and style, which worships at the twin totems of David Bowie and Madonna. “I don’t think there’s any shame in that. There’s the assumption that pop doesn’t have integrity, but that’s not true.” Integrity is not something Dream Wife are short on. A scene unto themselves, their gigs are a riot of handmade props and stage sets that cover everything from space beaches to haunted graveyards, while their finely tuned show is the product of extreme DIY beginnings. Despite only having four songs, in their very early days they took themselves off out on the road, without a booking agent, promoter or a tour manager. “We were a wild band,” says Alice. “In fact, we were basically feral.” Somehow, it worked and Dream Wife had tours of Europe and Canada under their belts before they even entertained the idea of getting serious representation. “We didn’t have any idea what we were doing but we still did it,” says Rakel of their somewhat unconventional start.
Despite the fact that they’re now fully ensconced in the London scene, their self-starting outsider status has stuck with them, lending everything a whisper of weirdness and a whole lot of passion. The band’s commitment to collaboration means they’re also a melting pot for the young, unconventional creatives who are involved with making Dream Wife one of those magical multi-media happenings around. “At the start we didn’t know what it would be,” explains Alice. “It still feels like we could do a lot of things with this project.” Deeply involved in the visual side of the group, they’ve worked with the likes of feminist photographer Francesca Allen, Ione Gamble of the cult Polyster zine and artist Meg Lavender who as well as creating high-concept, low-budget photoshoots for the band, is also currently on a recruitment drive for the Bad Bitch Club, a fan-first collective of the tough, talented no-shit women who can be found in a Dream Wife crowd. “It’s not just about us three. The band aren’t on a different level to the fans,” says Alice. “It’s much more fun to let people in,” adds Rakel. “That’s why our shows are so good!”
It’s the songs too that make the shows, from the fiery fury of the Spice Girls-referencing ‘FUU’ to the new wave politico-pop of ‘Somebody’ and euphoric old school indie hit ‘Fire’. These are songs in the classic mould – big, beautiful and crazily catchy. And, of course, there’s the three dynamic women at the band’s core. Alice is convinced the group’s drive and dedication comes from the fact they’re all fire symbols. “We’re a power trio,” she says. “There’s a crazy energy between us.” Bella is in agreement; “It is magic when we’re together.” Get ready to fall under Dream Wife’s spell.
“We've got no time for music, art or politics that are bland,” say Liverpool newcomers Queen Zee & The Sasstones “Bands that sing songs about nothing, that aren't musically adventurous; art that is just a heap of clay with no purpose except for Facebook likes and Instagram followers.”
Fronted by the direct and articulate Queen Zee (vocals/guitar) the band is completed by fellow songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Em, aka Em Dee (guitar), Frank Flag (bass) and The Gimp (drums).
With Zee and Em both in and out of “shit hardcore bands” as teenagers, eventually landing on solo projects just so they could play shows, one of Zee’s online demos subsequently caught the ear of Em, who got in touch asking if he could play guitar on the project.
“I'd met him a few months before when both our solo projects had supported a black metal artist” says Zee “Until that point I'd had no intention to play live with Queen Zee, it was my goodbye to playing music. I'd been whacking the name on gig posters I'd been running as a dumb joke. So with a few days to go we took the joke a bit further and played the first show, which featured 5 minutes of music.”
A review of that first gig claimed that the band had covered The Prodigy’s anthem ‘Firestarter’ - which they hadn't - “but we thought it‘d be funny to spread that around, and now someone on the BBC has read it out” smiles Zee wryly.
Drawing heavily on a variety of musical influences from the 70's garage rock explosion to the world of 80's pop, for Queen Zee, blurring the lines between the establishment and the DIY scene is something the band are clearly already au fait with.
What the notion of home conjures up for the band is a feeling of “pure unsaturated boredom” with “more than enough reasons to be fed up”. Often caught between the cracks and out on a limb, they’re too much of a pop band for the hardcore scene and too punk for the pop scene. Ultimately, they say, they’re more influenced by the city’s working class politics, LGBT+ community and ethnic diversity than by its music scene.
“Aristotle said that it was catharsis which makes good art and Marcel DuChamp said it was the social statement, so I think we try to do both” Zee explains of the band’s philosophy “We try to capture some element of human emotion and by doing that you play into the social statement. It's not necessarily political, it's just a re-claimed voice. I think you can have the same ‘wow' experience you get from looking at a beautiful cathedral that you can get from listening to a hardcore band at 500 decibels. Ultimately everything including your lifestyle can be art, because everything's got a story and everything is relative.”
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Dream Wife have announced a collaboration with non-for-profit organisation Girls Rock London and the Girls Rock Camp Alliance and they're looking for submissions from female-identifying/non-binary artists for an opportunity to open for the band at their huge London headline show.
Dream Wife say “One of the best things about touring is getting to meet, exchange ideas with, and play music alongside kickass bands from all over the world. For our autumn headline tour dates we are calling for female identifying/non-binary artists to come share their music, thoughts, the night and a stage with us”.
“Gender diversity in the music industry is still an issue and the aim is to provide a platform for female identifying/NB musicians regardless of experience, financial backing, number of online followers etc. If you've got rock 'n' roll in your soul, if you've got something to say; we want to hear from you.”