Get To Know: Dream Nails
Photo: Poppy Marriott
If we could be in any group, Dream Nails would be it. The London four-piece are a riotous all-girl punk band, who within just one year of playing together performed at Glastonbury's Sisterhood Stage. Their first EP, DIY, was released back in 2016 and features one of my all-time favourite tracks 'Deep Heat' - a hex cast on Donald Trump ahead of the US election. The first time I heard it, I fully snorted tea out of my nose. Since then, Dream Nails have released another EP, Dare To Care, and a double single Double A Side, both of which fast became staples of the Tung HQ sound-system along with newest single 'Cookies For You'. Ahead of their forthcoming gig at Rich Mix on the 4th of May, we caught up with the girls to talk tearing down the patriarchy, one riff at a time.
Hi gals, how are you! What have you been doing today?
We’re currently on tour! We just played Manchester Punk Fest and we’ve spent most of the day in the van on our way to Bristol.
How would you describe Dream Nails?
Riotous punk witches singing in perfect harmony.
If an alien crash landed straight into a Dream Nails gig, what would their first thoughts be?
Feminist utopia has arrived.
How did you all meet?
Janey: Anya and I met through feminist activism in London. She was in another band at the time and was one of the only musicians I knew; and I told her that I wanted to start a punk band. I had no idea what I was doing, I had written words that I wanted to turn into songs but didn’t know how – luckily Anya is a phenomenally talented guitarist and together we started to write songs and build a band. Things took off really quickly and after 6 months it was already too much commitment for our first drummer, so Lucy joined us through a Facebook advert. Mimi used to play in a band with Lucy a few years ago, so auditioned when we were looking for a new bassist.
What’s the best thing about being in Dream Nails?
The jokes. We all share the same weird sense of humour, something which has revealed itself over time. As anyone knows from watching our Instagram stories, our band is sustained on a diet of 40% music, 40% laughter and 20% carbs.
We feel we were brought together through our collective divine paths. It’s amazing to be basically married to a group of women whose aspirations are in line.
Who would you cite as your main influences? Who inspires you?
The everyday resilience of women all over this world.
The people who come to our shows also inspire us. It’s such a beautiful thing to create a safe space and be able to breathe, and be angry, silly, whatever, together!
What do you hope to achieve through making music as Dream Nails?
The fall of patriarchy. Well, that’s the end goal. The way to get there is through creating fun spaces where women and non binary people feel safe, collectively powerful and support each other - and where men make space for that and become better feminist allies. And that’s precisely what we set out to achieve with our live shows!
How do you feel activism through music can shift the narrative?
Activism through music can change who has control of the narrative. We have a lot to say on this. Three main things:
- Redefining live music spaces. We always push to play on lineups with women and non-binary people of colour (and help book them), we push for gender-neutral toilets, we create safer spaces agreements with venues and ask them to undergo Good Night Out training, we keep an eye on the wheelchair accessibility of venues and finally - when we’re playing the show itself, we have a “women and non-binary people to the front” policy that defines the space as theirs.
- Community building. By building community and confidence among women and non-binary people - and by women and non-binary people taking up more space onstage and more space on festival lineups. Women and non-binary people have perspectives to share and ways of disrupting the macho bro-fest of the music industry, which has direct impacts on the rest of society.
- Zines! We focus a lot of our attention on the things we create around our music. With every release we make, we create a zine for our fans. Our latest one is called “Your Body Is Not Your Own: Articles on Reproductive Justice” and it contains writings from 21 different contributors on topics like trans feminist reproductive justice, the rights of pregnant women in prison and the obstacles lesbian parents face. We always want to use our resources and platform as a feminist band to open the space for as many voices as possible, especially the most marginalised women.
Absolutely! We are activists with instruments! How can anyone not be an activist under this government? We met through a feminist direct action group and each participate on a daily basis in our own lives - when this government has closed women’s refuges and is aggressively propagating racist policies against migrants, we have no choice. It’s only through this unglamorous, difficult work that structural change will happen - the powers of music are sadly limited.
Why is activism more generally of vital importance to you?
Art is never enough - every single person needs to roll up their sleeves to craft the world we want. There’s no fast track to liberation, and it can be messy and painful, but the sooner we all get stuck in, the sooner we can end the shit-show we’re all living in.
Amen to that. Not to steer away from the important topic of activism here, but I did also want to ask you about one of my favourite aspects of Dream Nails' output - Chip Advisor. Talk us through the best chip you ever ate. Where were you and how did it make you feel?
Up a mountain in Austria on a cold, cold day! We had played a show in Innsbruck the night before and woke up early the next day to hike up a mountain. The chips at the top were almost as good as the view!!
[Reader: I actually know the precise chips they are talking about. It's these ones.]
Anyway! Time for the Quick Fire round! You ready?
Live gig or solo dance party?
Live gig!!! It was recently proven that going to gigs is better than therapy. We’re so excited for our upcoming live show at Rich Mix on the 4th of May!!
90s, or now?
90s. A time of abundance, of infinite growth, of education funding. When people tolerated cultural aberrations like Mr Blobby. That shit would send people over the edge now. In the 90s the world was ovulating, and now it’s cramping BADLY.
Last song you listened to?
Spice Girls 'Who Do You Think You Are'
Fat chips or French fries?
And now for the big one…cats or dogs?
Catch Dream Nails live at Rich Mix on the 4th of May. Grab your tickets here.