Photos by Sonya Mezhericher.
The three members of Dream Wife, Rakel, Alice, and Bella sat huddled around a table in Williamsburg sharing pints of cider that rattled on the dive bar tables as they erupted in laughter. The Icelandic-British femme-punk trio were in New York City for their debut at Baby’s All Right but it felt more like a night at the pub with the girls than an interview.
Dressed in DIY knitted ponchos, Yeezy hoodies, and painted red lips, Dream Wife are an unapologetically authentic group of art school students who had a dream of spontaneously touring Canada for no good reason. They made their dreams come true. “Dream Wife Dreams of Canada,” a trip to visit friends in the great north and start a girl band soon had Dream Wife making DIY tees in European hostels and proclaiming their solidarity with all the “bad bitches” of the world. I love them, you’re going to, read this interview!
Where are you from and how did you all meet? I want to hear the story…
Alice: Me and Bella met through battle of the bands in Somerset back in the day.
Bella: Me and Rakel randomly started living together.
Rakel: Alice would come over to the house. But they were pretty shy to me for the first year.
Alice: We knew of each other but we weren’t friends in the way that we’re sisters now
Rakel: One night me and Bella went out with her flatmates. It was a fun night then the conversation came up that we wanted to go to Canada—you are really getting the full story—we wanted to go to Canada to visit friends and we needed a purpose so we decided to start a band. So obviously it was just us two and we needed more people for this band so we went home and messaged Alice on Facebook
Alice: I get this message like “do you want to come to Canada? Do you want to start a band?”
Were you totally pissed when this went down?
Rakel: No actually we were quite sober.
Alice: I was just having a night in, I didn’t even know they had been out and I got this message—like fuck yeah!
Rakel: Alice was down for the idea and we asked Alice because she is the sickest guitar player in Brighton.
Oh okay—so Alice had some street cred
Rakel: Yeah Alice had street cred and we could build on top of something. I was studying music and it was performance based so I needed a final show. I was really excited about this Canada trip so why not make it into a performance art piece-ish. It was called Dream Wife Dreams of Canada—so document the trip to Canada and have a show at our university. The joke was it wasn’t really a performance piece it was just us making a band. A few months later we made four songs. We messaged our friends in Canada and they helped us get gigs. Our friends just helped us out and we managed to book a month long tour in Canada and then we just went.
Alice: We didn’t have a drummer at this point, we just had this random drum machine with loops. It was pretty basic.
Rakel: We just took megabuses around Canada. It was a great tour. Our friends that helped us along the way just brought their friends and booked really fun shows. That was the best summer. When university was starting again we met up and we were like “that fun thing we did this summer, should we maybe play a show in London or Brighton?”
Alice: Let’s see what happened. It felt like it couldn’t end there. There’s more to do with it.
So you just wrote the four songs from the first EP and just toured Canada?
Alice: We played maybe one show at a friend’s birthday party in the UK. Its about doing it and not questioning things too much but also analyzing it as it happens, then it kind of just snowballed.
Rakel: The next show we did after Canada was half a year later. We weren’t going to be a band but it was quite nice to come back together and play in London. That’s when we started practicing and making songs and eventually we released our EP last year and continued to do a bunch of DIY tours that were similar to Canada.
U.K. and Europe?
Rakel: Yeah U.K. and Europe—we had a thing of being like “fuck it, let’s just go on tour.”
Bella: It was basically learning through playing live—that’s always been really important to us.
Alice: Also the conversation with the people you’re playing to and inform how you go about it too. We just finished recording our album that’s coming out shortly.
Bella: We played a lot of weird shows in really weird places. The solidarity we’ve built between us just by being alone in these very bizarre places—having each other to lean on. Now we’re in a place where we have an amazing manager and label.
Rakel: The whole crew around us are amazing. The reason it happened is because we are a good live band. There’s a big difference between bands that are studio based and then perform it live but for us the first year of us being together we played live everywhere. We did these ridiculous tours that were really hard work.
Alice: We were this kind of wild feral band at the time and just going for it.
Rakel: Now we have a tour manager and a van with a T.V. and we get booked in these nice hotels and we’re not sleeping on a stranger’s floor, we’re not on megabuses. Its funny people ask “is it okay, is that okay?” We’ve upgraded now. We wouldn’t have developed this sound if we hadn’t don’t those DIY tours
Alice: We actually recorded the first EP between two tours, straight off the road.
What were your crowds like on these DIY tours?
Alice: We got a bit of everything to be honest.
Rakel: Sometimes it was great and sometimes it was very weird. One time we thought we were in Hamburg—turns out we were not in Hamburg [laughs] we were in Russia.
Rakel: We’ve been lucky that things have just worked out. I’m really happy we toured because we wouldn’t have sounded as good when we recorded it. We then got people who genuinely loved the music and wanted to work with us. Even when we first started playing we had meetings with major labels and they saw three girls and thought “we can work with this.” Those meetings were so scary, we really thought “fuck the music industry” but our label is incredible. They know the good parts of the industry and are never bluffing or faking it.
Alice: The team at Lucky Number trust our vision and believe in it.
I love your music because it’s about the girls! I love the track “Somebody,” you guys are re-humanzing the female body and the woman.
Dream Wife: Wow what a line!
Rakel: “I am not my body I am somebody” I love that sentence because “somebody” is often used in the context of “don’t you know me? I’m somebody.” Its flipping it around and allowing women to say “I am somebody” not being ashamed to be your own character. It’s usually a man saying “don’t you know who I am?” but having a women being like “I am not my body, I am somebody”
Alice: It’s an ownership of identity.
I think it’s something you do very well. You own your identity. With each track there’s no compromise, a strong message but with a fun sound. Girls being girls and not being apologetic about it. Not even having to be sad or angry while you do that.
Bella: Or putting down other girls either! The culture of women putting each other down and competing is so fucked up, it’s how we’re taught to be.
Rakel: We’ve had this special reaction to “Somebody.” I didn’t know how people would react to the song or if people would get it—it’s not me that’s fucked up it’s the system that’s fucked up.
Alice: Being on tour during the #metoo campaign and hearing girls singing “Somebody“ all together—it was really powerful. It created a moment for us and a conversation too, a much needed one.
Bella: There were these all female mosh pits every night—it was amazing!
Rakel: These women didn’t necessarily know each other but having that solidarity being in the front lines it was the best moment.
Alice: These are safe mosh pits, which are so important at gigs.
We have to wrap up but one last question: what does it mean to you to be a bad bitch?
Alice: Oh my god, just be yourself.
Rakel: Being in solidarity with other bad bitches.
Bella: Not accepting the limitations prescribed by your gender.