Prior to their gig supporting The Vaccines at Sheffield O2 Academy and fresh from their Glasgow headline show the night previous, we caught up with the The British-Icelandic trio Dream Wife, who are reinventing punk on their own terms.
Up a flight of stairs, in a dark and deserted dive bar, Dream Wife sit by a window watching the bustling city below. The location seems to capture the trio perfectly; grungy and badass yet equally charming. The same goes for their music, aggressive in its delivery but lyrically profound with layers of sentiment.
On the surface the band may seem a little intimidating, with heavy make-up and bold punk hairstyles but when in conversation it is evident the trio are far from scary. They chat about their antics from Glasgow the night before, dancing to the Vengaboys and drinking strawberry daiquiris after the show. But this is not to say they are hiding behind any aesthetic.
“None of this is made up. This is as honest as it’s going to get,” says Iceland born frontwoman Rakel Mjoll. If there was any doubt to this statement it was soon dismantled in light of their live performance, with their set opener and euphoric single, ‘Hey Heartbreaker’. The track was delivered with unfiltered attitude and character.
“At first we made it for a friend’s birthday party and we called it ‘Hey llama’” says Mjoll, remembering the song’s early origins. “We had just formed as a band, and it was some variation of ‘Hey Mickey’ and then we just made our song from it. A real mash-up really.”
If ‘Hey Heartbreaker,’ had not got you by the throat then their anthemic track ‘Somebody’ certainly will have. The track “focuses on gender inequality, reclaiming identity and sexual assault,” says guitarist Alice Go.
The chorus line to ‘Somebody’, “I am not my body, I am somebody” is repeated in the track, and is addressed with pure fire by the trio when on stage. The band are unassuming of their feminist significance, “I mean of course we are feminists” explains Go, “We’re just three women doing what we do on our own terms and just by doing it, that’s inherently political.”
“Small Talk? We don’t do small talk.”
The trio’s transparent approach to the topic is refreshing. They let their music do the talking rather than feeling obliged to cement their opinions through social media.
“We are living in a female body and we’ve had experiences and our friends have had experiences and that’s just what we write about,” explains Mjoll. “We’re not aiming to tackle an issue we are just writing what we know.”
One thing they know for sure is how to vibe with the crowd.
“I wanna hear you badass bitches out there,” exclaims Mjoll before the volcanic riffs of ‘F.U.U’ blast out. The track is a ravenous ode to independent women, and an unapologetic ‘fuck you’ to the patriarchy.
“That song is one of the highlights of our set,” says Go, “it kicks it up to a new gear.” The band explain that the track is often a pinnacle of their headline performance, but they tend to hold back a little with The Vaccines crowd.
“Coming from an hour long set that’s so in your face, to half an hour with an audience who have no idea who you are is so healthy, it’s very much based on the songs then,” says Mjoll. “It’s like getting to know someone. You don’t just dive in and make out with them, you’ve got to make baby steps.” When questioned if by baby steps she means something similar small talk, Mjoll responds, “Small talk? No, we don’t do small talk!”
Dream Wife are many things, they are unfiltered, they are fearsome, and they are bloody brilliant, but under no circumstances are they a band of small talk, that much is clear as they exit the stage.
Photos by Ethan Weatherby