Hey Heartbreaker: The Liberation Of Dream Wife

Sitting down with the self-proclaimed Bad Bitches...

Get ready for Dream Wife to liberate young females everywhere with the release of their self-titled debut album later this month.

It's an album trailed by countless live shows, a seemingly never-ending trail of riffs, broken equipment, and their always-vital message of empowerment.

Set to play a pair of British shows in January before skipping out of the winter blues for a trip to Australia, Dream Wife are simply unstoppable.

But first, Clash writer Laura Copley caught up with lead vocalist Rakel to find out a bit more behind the trio who are blazing the way for empowered lady rockers. Bad Bitches unite…

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Congrats on the album! How long has it taken to get to the release?

Thank you! About a year and a half. We started with our label (Lucky Number) last summer and they just put us to work! We had enough material and enough encouragement to just go for it and instead of releasing more EP’s just going for the debut.

Where have you been recording?

We wrote a lot in the studio we have in Peckham, which is a windowless little space. Then we recorded in East Coast studios in Notting Hill which actually doesn't exist anymore, I think we were one of the last bands to record there.

There was this amazing guy who was in his 80s that was selling the studio and he'd built it in the 1970s. It looked like a wooden spaceship. The Rolling Stones recorded there too, you could feel the place had soul.

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There was this new feeling of trusting somebody else with our music…

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Your self-titled is out shortly. Do you feel ready for it’s release?

Yeah definitely. We first recorded it all on tape, then spent quite a lot of time mixing and recording different parts on top, but still trying to keep the raw quality the tape gives… we really took our time! We are definitely now ready because of that. But it was nice to be a part of the mixing stage.

We worked with producers for the first time too, so there was this new feeling of trusting somebody else with our music. I think it’s also a great time to release an album, as it's the start of a new year. It’s the beginning of something new!

You have a very unique way of singing, has that always been with you or was it birthed through experimentation?

Haha, do I?! Um I think definitely over time. I have quite a background in music, my Dad’s whole side of the family is all theatre, music, art… so I started studying piano, guitar and vocals when I was a kid, then as a teenager I studied jazz, vocals and opera. I wish I did more opera. It gives you crazy adrenaline, I remember after every opera lesson I had I'd walk out so happy because of the buzz it creates when you're pushing that area of your body.

I think the mixture of all those different backgrounds kind of came together to make my own. But I don’t think it was really until Dream Wife that I started doing vocals for myself… we've been exploring this a lot lately. Like how everything from your childhood effects you. So even though I had all that training, there's always been someone else who had an idea of what they wanted from me vocally.

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I have complete freedom – lyrics, melodies, writing… there's equality amongst us.

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Now I have complete freedom – lyrics, melodies, writing… there's equality amongst us. And it's fun because we all approach music differently. Like Bella didn't even play bass when we started, so she just had to learn as we went on and that turned into her developing this unique way of approaching bass as she didn't give herself any limitations, so now she has this great onstage presence because she can dancing and play bass at the same time which is a lot of fun to watch.-

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So far you’ve released seven tracks from your album over the past year. What can we expect from the unheard five tracks?

Well I think it was important to get out 'Somebody' as it had an important message. It's about owning yourself, and understanding either sexual assault, or something that has pushed you down because of gender roles. We thought that was a powerful and positive way of starting the album so we focused on getting that one mixed first.

There's a few songs I'm really excited to finally get out. Our first ballad finally! Not that we can’t write ballads, but we aren't good at staying at ballad level, they tend to end up a lot more rockier than they were supposed to. But I like all the tracks, it's a great feeling to be able to release a full body of work that you can actually be proud of.

Is there any reason to why ‘Lolita’ didn’t make it on to the album?

'Lolita' is an interesting one actually, because we loved it live, but it's changed so much since the EP version. That's definitely something we want to discover maybe on the next album. There's a bunch of songs that didn't make it on this one that might resurface in the future… hey, it's so nice being able to think about the next one!

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We thought that was a powerful and positive way of starting the album…

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Like with 'Somebody', do you tend to write with themes?

Um, no, not really. I think it's mainly through a subconscious that comes out during writing or playing that themes start to form. We all went to art school in Brighton, which is were we met, and I think we've carried that art school ethos on into songwriting. So it's all about just allowing yourself to 'make', to be in the process and I guess it's not until you step away from what you've created that you actually start understanding it and putting links together. So that's how we write, we just go with it, revisit it and see what happens.

Going back to 'Somebody', that song was written in one go and not changed at all. It was during the Slut Walk campaign in Iceland and it was really inspiring to be around all these women, feeling empowered by standing together through their stories of rape and sexual abuse, and we just went back and used all that emotion. So that song really means a lot to us.

What are the best bits about playing live?

Again, I think it would have to be playing 'Somebody' just because of the message. Our fanbase ranges in age, but we really want to involve younger girls, so we've been trying to push for 14+ and 16+ shows. We started noticing a lot more younger girls at the shows screaming back the lyrics "I am not my body I am somebody", and it just kinda hit, like I wish that was something I could've had when I was 16. So we feel this responsibility.

We bought our friend Meg Lavender along on our tour last October to document it, and she studied fine art and wasn't really a gig photographer, so instead of focusing on us, she would go into the crowd and talk to the girls at the show, asking them their names and why they came and she called it 'The Bad Bitch Club'. So there was this idea of reclaiming that word and using it in a really positive way, and it ended up creating this community which is so amazing.

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There was this idea of reclaiming that word and using it in a really positive way…

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So from that, I did this thing halfway through a show one time where I call out for the bad bitches, and I ask the bad bitches to come to the front and take their space. And all of a sudden there's this group of girls – who don't necessarily know each other – at the front of the stage screaming and dancing, and it was such a beautiful, empowering thing. I want it to happen at every show.

Similarly, many other great rising bands are changing the way we view live shows. Do you have any favourites?

HMLTD. What I love about Happy Meal is that they embrace these extreme versions of themselves in the way that they dress up, embracing their femininity as well as their masculine sides. Then to translate that to the audience, who embrace that and then turn this sense of expression into the norm, I think that's really great. So yeah, how they're approaching the live show aspect is really exciting.

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Dream Wife's self-titled debut album arrives on January 26th.

Words: Laura Copley

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