Images & Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“Music should be something that
you understand through doing”
— Rakel Mjöll
Dream Wife is a Icelandic-British three piece band comprised of singer Rakel Mjöll, bassist Bella Podpadec and guitarist Alice Go. Their debut album Dream Wife is out now via Lucky Number.
Dream Wife, the eponymous debut album by British/Icelandic punk trio Dream Wife, has long been anticipated by live audiences and critics alike. Affectionately called “the wives” by friends, Rakel Mjöll, Bella Podpadec and Alice Go converged in 2015 at an art school in Brighton, UK where they began Dream Wife as a way to explore making art on the fringes of the fine art theories they were taught every day. In a span of two years, the infectious zeal of their shows and the tenacious themes of their music positioned Dream Wife to be one the UK’s foremost up-and-coming bands. The band has also started The Bad Bitch Club, which prioritizes their shows being safe spaces for everyone to “protect and be there for each other.” Dream Wife discusses the true (and false) meaning behind their name and the process of making an album as true to their live shows as possible.
Where are you from?
Rakel Mjöll: We met in Brighton at art school. I’m from Reykjavik, Iceland.
Alice Go: Bella and I are like country girls. We’re from the southwest of the UK, basically.
Who did you listen to growing up?
AG: A lot stuff from the 70s. Punk and classic rock and glam rock. The Beatles and T. Rex and Bowie and Blondie. We actually went to Joey Ramone’s grave earlier, so the Ramones, CBGB and Patti Smith.
RM: My parents loved 80s music. The Smiths, Talking Heads. That was a time when vinyl wasn’t cool anymore, so they actually threw away their vinyl collection and bought lots of tapes to put in the car. Goodbye, vinyl collection.
How did the band get together?
RM: We all met at art school. Bella and I were living together, and we formed this project.
AG: It kind of came from an art school angle. It was open when we started. We just followed it through organically and discovered what it was while we were actually doing it.
What were you studying in art school?
RM: I was doing music and visual arts.
AG: I was studying sculpture.
Bella Podpadec: I was doing painting.
AG: All of us had done music, but none of us had done a project quite like this before.
RM: Not since I was a teenager. It was like, “I’m a serious art student, and this band is only extra.” And now this band is actually one of my main professions. It’s not an extra anymore.
BP: It was a way to explore what you don’t get taught in art school. It was a chance to do something outside of the institute and outside of the fine art mode of thinking.
How did you decide this was what you wanted to do?
BP: For a long time, there wasn’t any clear goal or destination. It just felt right to keep going, like there was something special here.
RM: We didn’t realize what Dream Wife was originally, and we shouldn’t have realized it because then you put so many limitations on yourself. It should be something that you understand through doing.
AG: We definitely explored it to discover it.
“It was a way to explore what you don’t get taught in art school. It was a chance to do something outside of the institute and outside of the fine art mode of thinking.”
— Bella Podpadec
What’s behind the name Dream Wife?
RM: It’s a Cary Grant movie, but that had nothing to do with it. We had this great discussion about “what is a dream wife?” When the band grew, we realized how much weight the name actually had and that it matched what we’re trying to do. The idea of a “dream wife” is this LA, 1950s dream house, dream wife, dream job—this kind of American dream that doesn’t exist because there’s no such thing. And because you’re still discovering so many different parts of you. There isn’t this molded image or this molded job or house.
BP: It was this idea of the wife as an object or a possession, something to acquire in your life. We’re taking that set of words, but in our own sphere where we control our own destinies and support each other as women, as each other’s wives.
If you take the word “wife” back to the entomology, it originally just meant woman. It came to mean this other thing through time and history. It’s kind of playing around with what those words mean, what they could mean and what we mean to each other.
What was your first break as a band?
BP: I think probably signing with our label and having people believe in us.
AG: It has allowed us to take this to places we wouldn’t have been able to get to before. We’re working with a team right now that definitely supports our vision and we have complete trust and it feels right.
RM: Maybe the big break is hitting number one on Billboard. Every single musician has a totally different idea of what success is. Something that I think, “That’s cool,” maybe my boyfriend, who’s in a different band with a major label, will say, “Oh, my god. I can’t believe that happened to you!” If everyone had the same idea of success, it would be boring.
“It’s about changing people’s expectations of what women can be and achieve. We’re flying that flag of women standing together and following their dreams.”
— Alice Go
Describe your new album.
RM: It’s great to release something that is a package, not just a single, with artwork, videos and songs.
BP: We’ve lived a lot of lives with those songs, and now there’s this recorded version of each song that exists as part of the package. It’s been a nice process of consolidating what we’ve done together into the very best of that. And letting it go in a way, as well.
RM: This has never been a band that’s created music by trying to mix it and release it. Most of the album’s songs have been played over and over in different atmospheres, and the crowd reacts from it.
It’s a live vibe album. We attempted to record it all live in an old ‘70s studio, and we managed to use probably half of it. But you can never get everything live. We learned from that.
What are some issues you address through your songs?
AG: In terms of being three women doing this, this journey has been major for us. It’s about changing people’s expectations of what women can be and achieve. We’re flying that flag of women standing together and following their dreams.
RM: Instead of, “You’re three girls in a band. You’re a girl band!” We’re like, “No, we’re not. We just happen to be three girls.” We’re hoping to normalize it and inspire other girls to do the same thing.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
AG: Can we just say Madonna? We were singing her album American Life in the cemetery. Someone really far out different might be exciting too. Like Skrillex or someone. I think that collision of genres is exciting.
RM: Ed Sheeran, because he hasn’t really gotten his big break yet. He needs to turn it around.
“If you take the word “wife” back to the entomology, it originally just meant woman. It came to mean this other thing through time and history.”
— Bella Podpadec
What life events have impacted or inspired you or your music the most?
AG: Being women in the industry definitely pushes you to fight harder for your voice to be heard or to be taken seriously. We dig our heels in about things, and we want to get things right, and we want to do things on our own terms.
RM: Touring. I’ve always been a very polite person, but I’ve definitely learned a lot about my boundaries through touring in different countries and having to stand my ground on things I thought were normal. That’s definitely something, every single day.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
BP: Right now I’m into knitting.
RM: Alice’s passion is hacking people. So bad YouTube commenters, you better watch out.
What are some of your favorite books, film and music right now?
AG: We’re really into David Lynch and really bad high school movies. We just filmed the video for our song “Let’s Make Out” based on all the prom clichés of movies gone by.
RM: I really like Cardi B’s Instagram. I feel like that’s a movie in itself. Every single day there’s a new story. She’s so sassy.