A sugar coated, glitter covered, kitsch cake, stomped on by a holographic heel. This is one of the many highlights from the video for ‘Believe’, Dream Wife’s first single. The single and video typifies the band’s self proclaimed ‘pool side pop with a bite’ combining ethereal dreamy vocals with catchy grunge-like guitar riffs.
The band, made up of Icelandic singer Rakel and British musicians Bella and Alice, formed whilst attending art school in Brighton, with Dream Wife starting life as a performance art piece. But then “stuff got real” with the band progressing into a formidable pop trio, recently labelled as ‘Buzz band of the week’ by NME.
Chatting to them was like being invited out with the cooler older girls at school. Girls that exude a carefree knowledge of all the latest bands, clothes and great nights out. The details of their song writing process sounds like a night in with your favourite girl gang, “We write our songs in Bella’s bedroom. It’s under the viaduct so we see the trains passing by over the bridge. The bridge is lit up in the evenings with different colors… our very own eiffel tower. Usually one of us brings an idea to the table and we roll with it. Start laughing like mad when we realise we are on to something.”
Dream Wife’s dissection of pop culture in all its various forms is both witty and exciting, constantly exploring what it’s like to be creative women within the hallmark of popular culture. We turn to discussing some of the band’s influences and perhaps surprisingly, one of the cult figures in popular culture, David Lynch, and his return as director of the new series of the cult classic Twin Peaks. The band’s anticipation for the new series is unshakeable, “We are so excited, however there is of course a tinge of anxiety in our hearts; it’s hard to imagine anything living up to the original series.” The band are set to take their love for Twin Peaks to a new level, “We’re very excited about performing in a Twin Peaks immersive theatre installation as Dream Wife for a few days mid June in Berlin! It’s called The Shells – Ausflug nach Neu-Friedenwald. A group of London based and Berlin based artists are recreating the sets and making a whole world for visitors to enter.”
The trio go on to explain the influence of the cult figure on the band, “The idea of there being more than meets the eye, thematic in Lynch’s various depictions of American weirdville, is present in much of Dream Wife’s vision.” The comparison now doesn’t seem as with the band later musing, “The softer pastel aesthetic of Dream Wife is offset with our often cutting sound and lyrical content.”
This conflicting presentation of a pastel saccharine aesthetic with an often darker undertone is another key concept in the video for ‘Believe’ directed by Maisie Cousins, the London based artist known for her use of bright, saturated colours and sickly sweet, sticky imagery. The video explores and offers a startling alternative to traditional presentations of women and femininity. The first half of the video sees the trio as futuristic yé-yé girls, the young stars of french 60’s pop. But instead of the highly contrived coupling of sex and childlike innocence that typified the yé-yé girls, the trio subvert the male gaze, with an all female cast and crew, the focus is shifted to a distinctly female gaze.
In the second half of the video, the band appear to be channelling Audrey Horne, the femme fatale of Twin Peaks, the trio’s self confessed favourite female character, ‘[she’s] Beautiful, powerful and seriously fucked up.” The stylistic changes, leopard print, black PVC and red lipstick signify this shift and another exploration of an aspect of female identity.
The band’s vision for the video was clear from the outset, “As Dream Wife grew we thought Maisie’s visual aesthetic would be a match made in heaven. We had loved Maisie’s work for a long time and were happy to see how she would interpret the track.” The band appear to have assembled something of a creative dream team to execute their vision working with Rakel Unnur, acclaimed Icelandic stylist and photographer Joanna Kiely on their photoshoots, videos and visual projects.
Working with a vast array of creative women seems only to be to the band’s benefit, allowing them to cultivate their aesthetic and creative vision. The band stresses the importance of this, “mixing of art forms is always healthy. Many of the bands and collaborators we have recently worked with have shared this love of mixing fashion, culture, art and music. It’s an exciting time right now!”
Dream Wife seem to be at the forefront of a new generation of female creatives, a position that they can’t help but celebrate,“We are really excited by the resurgence of zine culture. We are loving ‘Sister Zine’ and ‘Polyester’, so visually stimulating and creative! It’s great to see women making things together, and supporting each other.”
The band continue this endeavour musically, collaborating with the Manchester band PINS, who opened for Sleater-Kinney on the UK leg of their tour, “We’re collaborating a lot with PINS these days. They’re rad. We’re releasing a split with them in a few days. Last weekend they came down to Brighton for Great Escape festival and we shot a music video together. Which ended up at this crazy house party we threw with a few other bands” Dream Wife also cite, TOPS, Moon King, Realms and as their favourite bands of the moment.
The band’s calendar looks set for this summer, “We’ll be playing in Ireland, Iceland and around the UK this summer. Rakel is Icelandic so it’s gonna be sweet playing a few shows there!” Talking of personal summer plans, the band are set to continue as music’s coolest girl gang, “Alice just bought a heart shaped guitar. Too many dreams are coming true, we can’t keep up.We dream of keeping doing what we are doing and doing it better. I mean what’s better than making sweet music with your home girls?”
Photo: Maisie Cousins