GENRE IS DEAD! Interview With Dream Wife’s Rakel Mjöll

GID: The song fantastic. It also shows a sonic shift for the band that you hear across the album. You still have the high energy, rocking songs but there are also ballads along with upbeat, poppy songs that make you want to dance. It’s more diverse than your debut. What inspired the sonic direction of the album?

RM: When we recorded our debut album we had never gone into a studio as a unit. We spent about a week or less on [the record]. It was an intense process. The songs we did for our debut were an introduction. We had some of the first songs we ever wrote and ones we had written just before we went into the studio. We sort of hammered them out because we really wanted to get down a live sound since we’re a live band. We just wanted the live sound and the rawness and harshness. We also realized after we finished recording that we recorded everything at the same speed. So that just shows how much we really wanted to hammer it out.

But this time around we had toured for two years and gotten really tight as a unit of musicians, and friends, and going into this next one we had time to write. It was the first time we ever had taken a chunk out where we weren’t touring as well as writing. It felt luxurious to say I’m going to write an album this month! Bella [Podpadec’s] family has a lovely house in the country where we could go and write a lot. That let us properly sink our teeth into what kind of songs we wanted to write and what we wanted to say as well. We wanted to keep a lot of those elements from the first album: the raw sound and the energy and keep a lot of punk and rock elements. But we also wanted to dive deeper into pop sensibility, which we all love. Also, I was like guys can we please write a ballad? All our ballads ended up being a punk song. So, there was this learning to hold back and take things apart as well. That’s the beauty of having time to write an album. It was really great to be able to do that and to properly look into our songs. And then we were so lucky to be able to work with our producer, Marta Salogni. We spent a whole month in the studio. Oh my god, that was amazing!

GID: In addition to Marta, the entire team you worked with was female. Was this a coincidence or was it an intentional decision?

RM: We wanted to put our money where our mouth is in the way that we wanted to also work with an amazing producer. When we met Marta we were like yes, she is the one. She assembled the team, which was Heba Kadry mastering and Grace Banks engineering. It definitely wasn’t a coincidence; we wanted to validate those female voices behind the scenes as well. We didn’t hire Marta because she’s female, we hired her because she’s the best producer we ever met. She’s the most incredible producer I’ve ever worked with and we really found a connection together. She’s so highly talented in every field because she knows every field. She’s been an engineer, she’s mixing, now she’s producing. It’s a lot of trust you get from working with someone who knows everything and is so good at what they do. Also, no ego. All the egos are left at the doorstep. And she’s incredibly chill. It was great to be working with her. We’re very fortunate.

GID: Speaking with other women in the industry, they mention how they’re made to feel like they don’t know what they’re doing, or their input is questioned making for an uncomfortable experience. Having the opportunity to work with an all-female team, did you feel like there was more room to relax, open up, and be yourself?

RM: Probably. We were also very fortunate that we had so much trust in the studio. We became instant friends and we also admired each other’s work a lot. Because we already had such great trust within our unit as a band, to bring that to the studio and feel as though they were our team, I think that’s everything. If you don’t have trust in your writing space or your studio, that makes everything really difficult.  And also, ego. I don’t think we would’ve felt comfortable if we worked with someone who had a massively inflated ego. It doesn’t matter that you recorded all my favorite albums. It’s only if you’re made to feel you can trust and work with the people around you, and this time, yeah 100%.

Regarding working behind the scenes in the studio spaces, Marta told us a lot of stories about what she heard from different producers about being a woman working in the studio in the ’90s. It was almost impossible. Studios in London weren’t hiring women for any kind of role because they might be too distracting. And that’s just in the ’90s and early 2000s. Marta must’ve gone through a hell of a lot being so technically brilliant and having a dude ask her if she knows how to plug in the desk. Having these conversations felt so important to making the album as well. We know a thing or two about dudes asking us if we know how to plug something in. Do I know how to turn on an amp? The conversations we were having in the studio with Marta and Grace elevated what we were making and why.

GID: Did working with Marta and Grace have any influence on the So When You Gonna podcast that you launched during quarantine?

RM: Yeah! We were thinking of doing a podcast and having these conversations with Marta really made us want to do it. Also, learning that under five percent of the albums last year featured a female producer inspired us. We didn’t know it was that low! Luckily, we were able to record it in February and there’s more to come. It was very much about these conversations we were having in the studio and with friends of ours in different creative fields. We thought why don’t we make these conversations public because I would’ve loved to hear this. Not only hearing about those glories but hearing about different stages and different things you attempt and how you’re consistently still doing it as a creative. You’re always exploring different fields and met with different challenges. I like that honesty. I like being honest in songwriting and in conversations.

GID: It’s a great way to celebrate women in these roles who don’t get any credit, so congrats on the podcast and the new album. So far, it’s one of my favorite releases of the year. Some of the songs made me want to cry others made me want to dance and sing. I loved every minute of it.

RM: That’s amazing! Thank you for feeling that way. It’s so nice to release an album where you love every single song on the album. To actually fully love everything – not thinking we could’ve done that better or wishing this was mixed differently. It’s exactly how I would love this sound. Also, working with Marta by having so many conversations with her about influences and about feeling even about colors towards songs and then when we got our first mixes, we almost just said yes to them, which never happens. We almost said yes to our first mixes. It’s such a wonderful feeling. I don’t think I’ve ever felt before.

So When You Gonna… drops July 3rd. Pre-order your copy here. Listen to the So When You Gonna… podcast here. Dream Wife will tour Europe and the UK next year. See their dates here.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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