Dee Dee talks to ClashMusic

Sometimes things just seem to spiral out of control. Releasing their debut album, Dum Dum Girls were thrust into a seemingly never-ending parade of tour dates, press calls and public appearances. Lead singer Dee Dee stood in the maelstrom, separated from her friends, her family and anything approaching stability. And then her mother passed away.

Losing a parent, Dee Dee was forced to withdraw. Needing to find something – anything – to soak up her feelings, the singer began sketching out new material. “I’m historically really bad at dealing with things and I don’t even know what would have happened had I not had that cathartic therapy, or whatever you want to call it,” she explains. “For a while there I regarded the album as a partial seven steps of grieving. Whatever that sort of clichéd step-by-step thing is. A lot of my processing of what happened, happened in the songs and I kind of left it off there, so only now I’m starting to really sort of have it sink in.”

With the songs tumbling out of her, Dee Dee found that the band’s second album had begun to take shape in just under a month. “It was kind of a quick turnaround but it was such a specific timeline I was drawing on that I felt like I didn’t really have a choice – it was either write songs about that or don’t write songs. It just happened as it happened.”

The results are undoubtedly powerful. At times, the emotions on display are raw, naked and unhindered with ‘Only In Dreams’ refusing to pull its punches. Emerging from a dark spell in the songwriter’s life, the album veers between grief and insomnia, homesickness to outright longing for love. Yet alongside this, Dum Dum Girls have never sounded so coherent with the album becoming their most band-oriented recording to date. “Every little thing that we’ve done has seemed to fall at an appropriate time” she explains, “and I guess that’s’ what they call planning but for us, we had spent so much time playing together that the band had evolved from friends who were helping me re-create a record that I made in my bedroom and I didn’t want that to be the subtext of Dum Dum Girls – I want to be a band. It seemed like a very appropriate time to involve them.”

Heading into the studio in January, Dum Dum Girls were joined by long time friend and associate Richard Gotehrer. A continual source of strength for the group, the producer was able to push the American quartet to greater heights. “Part of why I really love working with him is that I think he really gets me and I think I really get him. I know exactly where he wants to push me and he knows exactly where I’m going to resist.”

Open to new sources of inspiration, Dum Dum Girls were also joined by Sune Rose Wagner. A creative source for The Raveonettes, the dynamic followed previous work on ‘He Gets Me High’ EP. “I have a very clear idea of what I want, and I look to Richard for bigger ideas and pulling me forward more and I look to Sune to make sure that I don’t lose touch with where I came from. He had such expertise of loud and nasty and tough and how to keep things evil and with teeth and I think that’s such a good thing to keep around when you’re chasing the pop.”

‘Chasing the pop’ is perhaps an apt phrase. Despite its lyrical bleakness, ‘Only In Dreams’ refuses to surrender its pop roots. Dum Dum Girls found refuge in the studio’s vast collection of vintage gear, gorging themselves on a seemingly never-ending selection of tube amplifiers and 50s circuitry. What results is a confident sounding album, which adds definition to their fuzzed up output. Reflecting on a teenage fascination with The Raveonettes, Dee Dee could almost be describing her own material. “Obviously I had listened to bands like the Jesus & Mary Chain, The Cramps and I was a singer who came from a choral background, I mean I grew up listening to Doo Wop. To hear a band that had the dirty swagger of the Cramps but were singing the close harmonies of like the Righteous Brothers or something was just cool,” she says. “It seemed such a specific crossing of interests, to hear that in another band felt really inspiring.”

Yet the melodic punch of ‘Only In Dreams’ shouldn’t disguise the hurt dwelling within the lyrics. At time autobiographical in a quite searing fashion, Dee Dee pauses when asked if she has perhaps given too much of herself away. “If I think about it, you know” she says. “Really, I didn’t have a choice when I was writing the songs - it was obviously very necessary for me to get it out somehow but you know I think that people are responsive to things being somewhat intimate like that. I know that growing up I always attached myself very strongly to songs that were very personal. Those were always the songs that I felt resonated deeply within me. I guess I hope that it’s an enjoyable record, it’s a pop record but I hope that some of the sentiment resonates a bit deeper with people. “

Now living in Berlin, it seems that although her schedule has slackened off the sense of dislocation remains. “I think that it’s just been a tumultuous year and the heavy touring permanently confused me. I’m literally exhausted right now as I’m talking to you, I’m kind of not sure what I’m saying because I went to bed at two and got up at five. It’s strange because you can have these moments of clarity within the cloud which seem really poignant but at the same time I don’t know if it’s really real” she insists. “I have recorded in the middle of the night a lot. Strange little songs, or weird covers. I guess it just seems that it’s part of my life at this point but I hope I can sleep tonight.”

Dum Dum Girls' new album 'Only In Dreams' is out now.

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