The art punks and unapologetic feminists give advice on navigating an industry which is still dominated by cishet white men.
Initially forming as an art project in 2015, Dream Wife is the punky brainchild of Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go and Bella Podpadec. Possessed by the spirit of their Riot Grrrl forebears, the trio has dedicated themselves to pushing the feminist agenda in the alternative music scene. Their gigs are marked by a “womxn to the front” spirit with their back catalogue being no less political. Fan favourite “Somebody”, off their debut album, rails against the routine objectification of womxn with vocalist Rakel’s rallying cry; “I am not my body!/ I’m somebody!”
Fresh off the release of their second album, So When You Gonna, Rakel, Alice and Bella sat down to tell us their five pieces of advice for trying to make it as a womxn in the music industry.
1. Check your privilege.
“Let’s begin by redefining “woman”. Most of our understanding of gender roles is rooted in patriarchy and white supremacy. Spelling womxn this way, with an x, seeks to broaden the scope of what ‘womanhood’ is and can be; it speaks to the experience of trans women and BIPOC women among other non-male-centred expressions of femme-ness. Start by getting to know yourself and how you feel in relation to gender. Free yourself from the cultural conditioning you have been raised with. In order to be a womxn in the music industry, you need to understand your gender both in terms of marginalisation and in terms of the privileges afforded to you.
2. You don’t need major-label validation.
“Now to the next part: time to redefine the music industry. Long gone are the days of jaw-dropping record deals and superstardom. The internet has democratised the music industry to the point where anyone with a device and an internet connection can broadcast themselves to a global audience. The bulk of the music industry is still dominated by a small number of huge conglomerates and, yes, they have a lot of power… but do they have any soul? I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a shot at the big-time music industry, but just consider what you want to get out of your career.”
3. Be true to yourself.
“Make music because you love it. There’s no point selling your soul to rock ’n’ roll unless you’re in love. be honest, show up authentically and don’t let anyone else define you.”
4. Uplift other womxn.
“Practise accountability and please let the myth of scarcity and female competition die. Historically, the reason there have been fewer womxn musicians is not because there can only be a few but because of the structural segregation of womxn. Don’t make this about individual power but instead use the space you create to uplift others.”
5. Enjoy yourself!
“Make things with people you trust, there are no bad ideas, be playful and maybe, most importantly, have fun!”
Dream Wife’s second album So When You Gonna… is out now.
6 July 2020