“Let the chixxx rock”: Dream Wife on empowerment rock and female anger

Dream Wife has come at just the right time. With movements like TimesUp and the Women’s March, the tide is turning on a sexist society and the three-piece, British/Icelandic band are here to chronicle that change. Dream Wife’s unashamedly feminist anthems and slick guitar riffs recall the Riot Grrrl bands of the ’90s, yet their pop-punk ethos and focused anger is undeniably contemporary. We caught up with the band about their snowballing success, empowerment rock, and why young women need an outlet for their anger.

Congrats on your success and the release of your debut album! What has your journey been up to this point?

We used to do things in a much more DIY way. Touring and sleeping on coaches, doing our own sound at the show. We used to be a kind of feral band, three girls just going to different places and playing this rock show with a Roland loopstation, a few songs and some synchronised dance moves. It kind of felt like we earned our chops on the road at that time. In between two tours at this time we recorded our self-produced EP. Once we actually had some music out there, it felt like people took us more seriously somehow. From the start, it’s a project that has just been snowballing at high speed, and here we are, after having just given birth to our brand new debut album! 

Dream Wife started as a performance art piece when you were at art school in Brighton. What made you change Dream Wife from being a “fake” art project band to a “real” one?

Firstly, this band was never fake, but it was definitely from the off a project that questioned and played with the representation of women in music, and in the media in general, which so often is pretty fake. Through just doing this project the way we wanted to, making our own rules and believing in each other and the music, the band just kind of had this momentum and energy around it that we couldn’t stop. Our general vibe is as follows; we don’t take ourselves seriously, but we do take the music seriously,

You met at art school and your music videos show that visual art plays an important role in your music. How would you describe the relationship between music and art in your work? 

We formed this band at art school in Brighton. We are three artists ultimately, we just happen to also be a rock band. Aesthetic considerations have always been hand in hand with the music for us, we kind of couldn’t think of working any other way, this feels natural and an instinctive way of working for all three of us.

You’ve been repeatedly described as a feminist band. Are you concerned at all about this label becoming reductive?

We are three women who believe in equality in many many senses, and want to have a conversation about that with those willing to engage. We aren’t against being referred to as feminist, however it sometimes feels like lazy journalism when it’s like obviously we have these values, if you understand anything about this band, when you’re still kind of being pigeon holed by your gender, that is an issue for us. We are a band, we are three women, and we believe in gender equality, it’s as simple as that.

Your music and lyrics are incredibly empowering. Is it a conscious decision that you’ve made to be unashamedly feminist in your music?

We write what we know, and we are three women in our 20s. It’s almost feminist by proxy.

The ‘90s riot grrl bands like Bikini Kill seems like they’ve been a major influence. Did you guys grow up listening to this kind of music?

We actually have been talking about this a lot recently, like where were all the women in rock/alt music when we were in our early teens, when we were understanding music more for ourselves for the first time. Our memories of female figures in music at that time were mostly in this kind of manufactured, pop context, which is something we embrace, but at the same time, a lot of the women who inspired us at that time, (aside from maybe Karen O and LoveFoxxx) were coming from our parents record collections. Blondie, Patti Smith, Joan Jett, it was all kind of retrospective. Our female icons as early teens were from a different time, it was only later we got into Riot Girl and women in grunge. Felt like we had to kind of hunt it down for ourselves.

A few months ago, Bono said that rock music has gotten “very girly” and talked about the importance of rock as an outlet for “young male anger”. How do you feel about the constant dismissal of female rock fans and bands as well as the dismissal of female anger?

Ultimately, it’s about everyone being like hey we all have these voices and all kinds of different people might connect with these voices for different reasons, rather than it being some battle of the sexes BS. It’s sad that someone with as much influence as Bono has to be such a caveman about this stuff, c’mon step up, this is a conversation not a dispute, everyone has to engage in this, men have to call other men out on casual sexism, we have to listen to each other. Rock is intrinsically masculine, we are just here to flip the script for once you know, let the chixxx rock. Women get angry too, let that voice be heard. End of.

What has your experience been of being an all-women band in the music industry?

At the start it definitely felt like we weren’t taken seriously in our vision, people try to mould you, you get the “oh you play well, for a girl” kinda comments. We don’t let that stuff affect us, these experiences have been a massive learning curve for all three of us so far, and the more this stuff happens the harder we are gonna rock. It’s about changing people’s minds, changing their perceptions of a woman, and what a woman can do.

What can someone who’s never been to a Dream Wife live show expect from your gig?  

To dance, sweat and scream.

Dream Wife are playing at Stereo in Glasgow on 23 March. Tickets can be found on the Dream Wife’s website. Keep up to date with the band on their Facebook and Twitter.

Words  by Katie Goh

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