Dream Wife’s Rakel Mjöll on their Debut Album, Exerting Healthy Aggression and Female Empowerment

By: Sun Noor

Dream Wife are undoubtedly one of the most inspiring and exciting bands at the moment. With the release of their debut, self-titled record in January, the trio has been touring relentlessly, embarking on their first headlining tours. They have also played countless festivals including Laneway and supported artists such as The Vaccines and The Kills on tour. I sat down with front woman, Rakel Mjöll a few weeks ago during their stop in Montreal on their tour with Sunflower Bean in order to discuss their new record as well as life on tour.


Alice and Rakel of Dream Wife

You’ve just finished your first headlining European tour and have been touring relentlessly for quite sometime, hows the road been treating you thus far?

Rakel: “It’s been great, a little exhausting since we’ve been on tour non stop since the albums release and this is our 124th show, but we’re excited to be in Montreal tonight. We’ve always wanted to come to Canada to play more shows and tried to but that didn’t work out and now it did so we’re super thankful and excited to finally be here to play a show.”

 Take us back to the earlier days before the formation of “Dream Wife” back to your arts school days, I know you in particular were studying music, but were you all always interested in pursuing a career in music?

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Bassist Bella Podpadec of Dream Wife

Rakel: “The other girls played in bands and were involved in other projects and collaborations while we were in Brighton and we have always been interested in music. Alice had played in different bands and so has Bella so I was thankful that we’ve found each other in art school. That’s also how we met our friend Alex who’s our drummer and tours with us. Music has been an interest since I was classically trained in vocal techniques back in Reykjavik as well.”

You’ve mentioned that the band sort of came together organically during its early stages while you were still studying in Brighton, what were your influences at the time? Were there elements of your disciplines that became a source of inspiration or anything else?

Rakel: “No, what I was learning completely different from our music and we’ve always written about what we know. I guess I could say that I was inspired by my surroundings but there isn’t something in particular or one source of influence, we ever influenced by everything. I remember there would be weeks where people would get excited about not having any homework and loving that about it and then there would be plenty of work to do for the next week. People like to assume that they’re supposed to wait for things to happen for them, especially when they come to arts university at a young age. It all depends on what you make of it, you really can’t expect things to be handed to you.”

How long have you been working on this record? What does a Dream Wife studio session normally consist of? Do you prefer spending time in studios generally or playing shows?

Rakel: |”We previously put out an EP a few years ago and we were fortunate enough to have a label like our label who asked us if we wanted to record an album over the course of last year, so we were like, “okay!” That was the first time that we’ve been in a studio ever. Everything else was recorded else was recorded ourselves and in Alice’s home studio. We did not spend much time in the studio compared to how often we play gigs, as we’re a live band and that’s where we come to life.”

 So the records been out for nearly four months now and you’ve talked about how you wanted to capture the essence of a live show, how have the shows been so far?

Rakel: “We don’t do that anymore, we used to try and play songs differently and tested out a bunch of material to crowds to see how they reacted to it before recording the album. The crowds have been really great, there hasn’t been a dull moment yet.”

Your album explores many themes relevant to female empowerment and individuality with songs like “Somebody” and “FUU” and the band name essentially flips the script on the notion conformity and societal expectations, was addressing these concepts through art something you looked into from the start?

Rakel: “As women we usually write about our experiences and things that were generally aware of. We don’t sit down and think, “I’m going to write a song about sexual assault or female empowerment” in particular at the beginning. I don’t think anyone of us actually thinks of concepts beforehand. We just write about what goes on around us and our experiences because that is what we know best. With the band name we took the false idea of a “dream wife” a “dream house” from the 50s which doesn’t really exist and made it our own by reclaiming it.”

Tell me a bit about “FUU” and the collaborative process with Fever Dream.

Rakel: “That’s a fun one, Fever Dream used to be a part of a rap group called Daughters of Reykjavik (Reykjavíkurdætur) which has girls from the ages of 15 to 32. Their music is also empowering and also inspiring since they target issues regarding sexism. We knew Fever Dream and asked her to join us on stage at one of our shows so she jumped on stage with us and sang her verse. We then proceeded to record the song since it also came about from the live setting.”

 

One of the most interesting aspects I’ve seen from your live performance is the notion of bring women who stick out to the from, “making room for bad bitches.” Has there always been an importance of creating safe spaces at shows and empowering women?

Rakel: “We do not always do that, it really depends on the crowd. We only do that if the crowd is okay with it and sometimes we get unplanned invasions on stage, people crowd surfing and mosh pits but so far the crowds have been great. Creating safe spaces at shows are important but this is something we only considered after playing several shows. It wasn’t until we looked back at our experiences being younger and going to rock shows, not wanting to be in the mosh pits and feeling unsafe, since shows are all ages in the UK, that we realized that shows weren’t always fun in that sense even though the whole purpose of going to shows is for entertainment. You go to shows to be entertained. We’ve worked with this amazing organization based out of the UK called, Girls Against who also work with people in different countries to make sure that there are safe spaces at shows. They make sure that people can reach out to bartenders, security guards or whoever’s organizing the show if they feel unsafe. They also put out songs everywhere directing people to where they can find help, which is great.”

Lastly, what are some of you current favourite records to listen to at the moment?

Rakel: “Cardi B! I love listening to her and I think this goes back to what you were asking earlier about writing songs empowering women, I love listening to female artists talk about their experiences. As well, male country artists. I love to hear what they have to say. I was listening to a lot of country music earlier on our drive here while it was raining. That was very relaxing”.

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Click here to view Dream Wife’s upcoming tour dates.

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