One of my favourite DIY bands on the scene right now, I am so excited to share with you all my interview with the fabulous punk witches, Dream Nails! We talk BSL, homophobia and hexing Donald Trump.
Your self-defining as “witch punk” is everything. How did you arrive at this subgenre/identity?
Janey (vocals): Throughout history, the label “witch” was branded on a person (usually women) who transgressed gender or sexual norms, or who challenged traditional power and knowledge structures. It’s about prioritising self-knowledge and power rather than relying on structures of patriarchy and capitalism that are designed to crush you; it’s about trusting your gut and your instincts to guide you. In a music industry that sidelines women, fighting for our right to be heard is witchcraft in itself.
Mimi (bass): It means wisdom. The knowledge passed down from matriarchal figures, things about you and your history that aren’t readily available or portrayed anywhere.
Lucy (drums): It means sharing knowledge, stories and experiences that aren’t codified “officially”, but help women maneuver through patriarchy, it’s about finding strength and inspiration, both personal and collective where the world is bent to stifle us.
Anya (guitar): Being witches is a source of power, a mystic energy we use to keep going despite all the forces working against us as women making music. We don’t write songs, we write hexes. Every time we sing Deep Heat, we’re sending out a curse to Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and other misogynistic politicians.
You recently fundraised to get a BSL interpreter at your shows! That’s amazing! How did you get that idea and how are you hoping it will impact your live shows in the future?
We got the idea after performing at a cool event at the Southbank Centre called Disco Loco last summer. The show was aimed primarily at kids, actually, so we ended up performing to loads of under-10s and invited them up to do a stage invasion at the end (there was a kid dabbing onstage right next to Anya). But what stuck with us was the BSL interpreter we’d been paired with for the gig. They’d learned our set in advance and became very much part of the performance. One or two deaf friends who’d previously never been able to access our shows were finally able to attend. We also got chatting to a rad person at the show about live event accessibility for the deaf community and saw how much more we could be doing to raise our game. Determined to do more, we have fundraised to make our album launch event more accessible. We already made sure our London venue is wheelchair accessible, but will be hiring a BSL interpreter too and are talking to a campaign group Quiplash about how else we can improve our events across the country. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the budget to do this at every gig – BSL interpreters are (rightly, as it is a skilled job) expensive to hire. Also, we strongly believe that this isn’t something that we should have to fundraise for – it’s too important, and should be seen as an integral part of the live music scene. But for now, we’re doing what we can and are excited to welcome more people from the deaf community to our rescheduled album launch in September!
Your recent single, Kiss My Fist, was all about the queer couple in Camden who got beaten up for refusing to kiss for the entertainment of men. How was that to write?
It happened very quickly. We were going into our last rehearsal before going into the studio to record the album, and that happened. Janey and Anya started on the music and lyrics, and we all finished it in the rehearsal room that night. It makes us so angry that queer women can’t even take a bus home without fear of being assaulted. Yet ‘lesbian porn’ is the most searched term on pornhub. Men love to fetishize us, but hate seeing us exist. The song is more about that than anything else.
What makes you the most proud about being a woman working in the music industry?
If you’re a woman working in the music industry, chances are you’ve had to work way harder than the men around you. It’s definitely harder for women to be taken seriously, or even be given a job. A lot of bands we know have broken up because of the environment. For us, even if we’re clearly in the band, we still get denied access to backstage with guitars on our backs. We still get talked down to by the sound guys and told that drums are loud. I suppose we are proud of ourselves, but more angry about it!
What would it mean to you to have a woman in the headline slot of Download Festival? Who would you pick and why (other than yourselves of course!)
We would love to see more festivals booking women acts. We would pick Cherryglazerr! They’re female-fronted, heavy and fun. We toured with them way back in 2018, their live set is sick!
Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer these questions, guys! If you want to follow Dream Nails (which you should), their socials are linked below, as is our petition.
Dream Nails insta: https://www.instagram.com/dreamnailsband/
Dream Nails twitter: https://twitter.com/yourdreamnails
Our petition – please sign and share!: https://www.change.org/p/get-a-woman-to-headline-download-festival
Find us on Instagram and FB @DLGRL2021 or search #DLGRL2021 on Twitter!