Dream Wife is more than just a band, Dream Wife is a way of life. You’ll struggle to find a tighter knit trio than the fabulously fierce Rakel Mjöll (vocals), Alice Go (guitar) and Bella Podpadec (bass), whose art school roots have informed their all-encompassing aesthetic and sharp eye for detail. This band aren’t just about bashing out insanely good guitar bangers that conjure up visions of Blondie by way of Bikini Kill, ESG and Pat Benatar – though on the songs that make up their debut album, out early 2018, they certainly do that too – they’re about creating a wonderful world to dive into headfirst and everyone is invited along for the ride.
The band came together while they were studying visual arts at Brighton University, with roommates Rakel – who was born in Iceland and raised in California – and Bella deciding they needed to enlist hot-shot guitarist Alice while a few Jägerbomb’s deep on an indie disco dance-floor. Alice responded to their pair’s Facebook message instantly and the dayglo world of Dream Wife was born. Initially formed for a University performance art project, they quickly realized that their chemistry was too powerful for them just to be a one time thing. They took themselves out on the road under their own steam, touring Canada and Europe with only four songs and without a booking agent, promoter or a tour manager. “We didn’t have any idea what we were doing but we still did it,” says Rakel of their somewhat unconventional start. “We were a wild band,” says Alice. “In fact, we were basically feral.” What they did have though, was a great band name.
The band chose Dream Wife for its word play, not from the 1953 Hollywood rom-com which none of them had ever seen, and for it’s wry nod to their feminist politics. “It’s a commentary on the objectification of women; the 1950s American Dream stereotype package. Having the dream house, the dream car and the dream wife,” they explain. “We want to flip the script on that. Women aren’t objects; we don’t just fit into one mold. At the start, we joked around calling each other our wives, but by supporting one another, celebrating achievements together and finding strength in female solidarity we’re reclaiming the concept of a ‘wife’. Being in a band is a marriage in itself.”
When it comes to their sound, Dream Wife worships at the twin altars of David Bowie and Madonna. “We rock but we’re definitely a pop band,” says Alice. “I don’t think there’s any shame in that. There’s the assumption that pop doesn’t have integrity, but that’s not true.” Integrity is not something Dream Wife are short on. A scene unto themselves, their gigs are a riot of handmade props and stage sets that cover everything from space beaches to haunted graveyards, while their finely tuned show is the product of extreme DIY beginnings.
Despite the fact that they’re now fully ensconced in the London scene, their self-starting outsider status has stuck with them, lending everything a whisper of weirdness and a whole lot of passion. The band’s commitment to collaboration means they’re also a melting pot for the young, unconventional creatives who are involved with making Dream Wife one of those magical multi-media happenings around. “At the start we didn’t know what it would be,” explains Alice. “It still feels like we could do a lot of things with this project.” Deeply involved in the visual side of the group, they’ve worked with the likes of feminist photographer Francesca Allen, Ione Gamble of the cult Polyster zine and artist Meg Lavender who as well as creating high-concept, low-budget photo-shoots for the band, is also currently on a recruitment drive for the Bad Bitch Club, a fan-first collective of the tough, talented no-shit women who can be found in a Dream Wife crowd. “It’s not just about us three. The band aren’t on a different level to the fans,” says Alice. “It’s much more fun to let people in,” adds Rakel. “That’s what makes our shows are so good!”
It’s the songs too that make the shows, from the fiery fury of ‘FUU’ to the new wave politico-pop of ‘Somebody’ and euphoric old school indie hit ‘Fire’. These are songs in the classic mould – big, beautiful and crazily catchy. And, of course, there’s the three dynamic women at the band’s core. Alice is convinced the group’s drive and dedication comes from the fact they’re all fire symbols. “We’re a power trio,” she says. “There’s a crazy energy between us.” Bella is in agreement; “It is magic when we’re together.” Get ready to fall under Dream Wife’s spell.