The significance of Dream Wife’s ‘So When You Gonna…’ placing in the Official UK Top 20 Chart
I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t heard of this band until recently. I was in the middle of a Spotify rabbit hole digging through new music when I stumbled upon ‘Hasta La Vista’ and was hit with a wave of Blondie-reimagined nostalgia and had to know more.
One quick social media search, and I’d soon found my new musical obsession, and a hell of a lot more than I’d bargained for. Formed of lead singer Rakel Mjöll, guitarist Alice Go, and bassist Bella Podpadec, the all-womxn trio are on a mission to dismantle patriarchy and redefine the rules.
Kicking off the month with a riotous bang, Dream Wife released their much anticipated second album ‘So When You Gonna…’ in early July. The threesome has never shied away from putting their plight for equal representation in music at the core of what they do and, as they demand in the record’s opening track, ‘Sports!’: it’s time to “put your money where your mouth is!” And, boy, do they splash the metaphorical cash with this one.
No strangers to activism, the group has previously worked with the feminist collective Girls Against in the past to stand up against sexual harassment at shows and prioritise making gigs a safe space for their fans. The band also embarked on a quest to bring more womxn to the forefront of the scene by putting a call out for female and non-binary acts to support them during their debut album headline tour last year, playing a pivotal role in addressing gender imbalance in the music industry.
Championing for parity at a superficial level is one thing, but the ensemble extended this behind the scenes too, having worked with an all-female team to create their most recent album.
The result speaks for itself: the album placed 18th in Official UK Top 20 Chart and 2nd in the UK Indie Chart. It was the only album in the chart to be produced by an all-womxn team, and the only record released on an independent label (Lucky Number).
On their success, the band affirms the significance of this win for womxn: “Having a Top 20 album isn’t just a number, apparently. For a band like us, on a small indie label, it would mean more radio airplay, better slots and stages at festivals and getting booked to play festivals in general that often have a lack of diversity. It opens doors that often are closed for a band like us.”
Ideally, gender wouldn’t need to be a factor to call out, but in a male-dominated industry where the ratio of male to female producers is 37 to 1, and only 7.3% of women in music find themselves in bands (more on this here), Dream Wife are breaking boundaries and proving what’s possible outside the mainstream.
The assumption seems to be that just because it’s not been done before, or done often, it can’t be done at all. But the group is paving the way for the next generation of girls in music. Their feat is not just prominent for now, but for its wider impact on how we view diversity and representation in the music industry, helping to normalise seeing womxn in roles both behind the scene, and front and centre stage.
Meet the team behind the album who, between them, have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, from Frank Ocean to FKA Twigs to Harry Styles:
The significance of the trailblazing trio’s latest musical work is further fortified by the topics covered: from patriarchal condescension to a womxn’s right to abortion. ‘Sports!’ opens with a forceful call for unapologetic authenticity from the very first lick of the guitar, followed by a satirical mansplaining spiel around, well, sports. ‘Temporary’ is a sweetly-sung support song for a friend of the band who had a series of miscarriages, emitting a strong message of reassurance and solidarity on an issue very rarely given the spotlight in music. ‘After The Rain’ is a soft piano ballad that stands out from the slightly more punk-leaning tendency of the rest of the album; it’s the kind of song to listen to whilst looking out from behind a rain-soaked window. Speaking about the story behind the song, Mjöll states: “The song was originally a voice memo I recorded after having a conversation with my sister, she had just discovered she was pregnant and she didn’t want to go through with the pregnancy.” The lyrics declare, “it’s my body, my right”, with the pointedness of the statement making it all the more poignant against a system seeking to restrict a womxn’s right to her own body.
To top it off, Dream Wife quite literally put their money where their mouth is by donating a portion of their digital download proceeds to Black Minds Matter and Gendered Intelligence, with a view of improving access to mental health facilities for Black people in the UK, and increasing understandings of gender diversity and supporting young trans people.
So How You Gonna…keep the momentum going? Well, the band said it best on their Twitter page:
Hire womxn producers.
Support independent labels.
Change the norm.
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