Dream Nails are a riot grrrl band from London who are creating a strong reputation in the DIY indie scene. The band describe themselves as “punk witches” and are known for their ferocious live performances. Mimi, Janey, Anya and Lucy also take their creativity to a whole new level by customizing their own pedalboards, and handmade zines. They completed a spring tour in May and will appear at Indietracks Festival in July, so I interviewed them to get their thoughts on the tour and who they are excited to see at Indietracks.
You’ve just finished your spring tour which included a date at Handmade Festival. How did the tour go & what was the best date you played?
Anya: Our Spring tour was glorious! We’d spend a lot of winter writing and working on our live set so we were so ready to spring up like little tulips. For me, our best show was a straight edge festival in Stockholm called Firestorm. Everyone was so safe, and it was really eye-opening to be part of a non-alcohol focused music event. Also when my amp blew, to kill time the rest of the band improvised an amazing tune called Electricity is Not Your Friend which I definitely want to hear again!
Janey: My favourite show was our headline show at Rich Mix. It was packed out on a Friday night full of the Dream Nails babe army and there was so much love and joy in the room. A disabled fan called Becca told us that it was the best night out she’d had in three years because she didn’t have to worry about any access needs and she felt very safe down at the front. That kind of thing really matters to us and it was really lovely to hear.
Lucy: We recently played at a festival in Luneburg, Germany and it was notable for 2 reasons. Number 1: First time we’d played outside, so the combo of banging on drums and that sweet, sweet vitamin D sunshine goodness was a heady mix. Number 2: there were loads of kids dancing at the front of the stage during our set, so we invited 4 little girls up on stage to dance in one of our songs! They loved it and 2 of them are going to start a band themselves. Mission accomplished.
Mimi: All three of the shows listed above are my favourite shows we’ve ever played! I have to say that inspiring those 2 girls to start their own bands is the best thing ever.
Can you give me a funny anecdote from the tour?
Anya: Things escalate so quickly in this band. We’re so deep into DreamWorldTM we don’t even know what’s funny and what’s just our own insanity. My favourite from this year has to be when we played at an anarchist venue in Oslo. The space was being used for body suspension before the show so a load of punks were hanging from meat hooks through their skin in front of the stage while we were soundchecking…
Lucy: The mind boggles trying to pick just one thing, I don’t understand how we are so insane together and question if we are lucky we’ve found each other or not. (I do feel lucky). One funny thing that happened this weekend was Janey plucked the arm off a creepy mannequin in the flat we were staying at, and woke us all up from our naps from caressing our faces with it. I lunged at her and would have rugby tackled that woman to the ground if she wasn’t so damn fast. I’ve already had to rugby tackle Anya in similar circumstances (it involved a creepy mask and a gown).
Janey: Our ‘girls to the front’ policy is a real test of how much male entitlement exists in the room, and sometimes it’s a battle to overcome it and claim space for women. There were lots of drunk men at that show, and one of them really didn’t want to respect our ‘girls to the front’ rule. Not only that, but he was trying to grab Mimi’s leg and pedals when she was playing. So Mimi, what did you do?
Mimi: Thanks for that intro, Janey. Well, I did the only thing I could, which was kick the man!! The weirdest thing was I saw him filming and rocking out at the side of the stage after that. Another funny thing we did was we asked audience members for phone numbers to people who were assholes to them, and then called them and just ate crisps over the phone.
I love how your songs are so fun to sing along to, but also have strong empowering feminist lyrics, in particular, DIY & Joke Choke. What or who are your songs inspired by?
Anya: DIY is inspired by the DIY punk and feminist activist communities here in London where we’re based. These communities really encouraged us to start our band! With this song we wanted to celebrate women and non-binary people doing things themselves in a capitalist patriarchy that just wants to crush you.
Janey: Joke Choke is inspired by my experiences of hearing people tell rape jokes and feeling so rageful and upset that rape is clearly an issue so abstract and alien to them. Humour is the way that cultural norms are passed on and bonding is facilitated, so the fact that people still make jokes about rape makes me sick.
Lucy: Our songs are inspired by the exhaustion of existing as a woman under patriarchy in a city that wants to grind you down. They have a steely core of rage and anger, we are punks after all, but their tightly bound (rather than sugar-coated) with a raucous joy and a commitment to silliness as a means of liberation.
Mimi: We have songs that are based off our normal lives as well, like not texting back, or boring office jobs. I think it’s really important for us to be able to be silly as well as serious.
Deep Heat cracks me up! Can you tell me who it’s about?
Anya: Deep Heat is about putting Picante products on the penises of politicians we don’t like. It’s not a song, it’s more of a hex. We used to dedicate it to George Osborne but look what happened to him. Now it’s dedicated to Donald Trump. Can’t wait for that hex to hit home.
Janey: It’s a symbolic hex on the patriarchy and about destroying male entitlement.
Lucy: It’s visceral. More than once I’ve seen the delicate hands of male audience members shift (subconsciously, I imagine) to protect their precious privates from imaginary spurts of Sriracha.
Mimi: I feel both insane and powerful singing “Nobody cares if your dick is on fire!”
I’m also really excited that you’re playing Indietracks. What attracted you to the festival, what are your thoughts on playing it, and who are you most excited about seeing?
Anya: Indietracks has been on our festival wishlist for a while so we’re really excited to play this year! I’m really looking forward to Girl Ray and Happy Accidents. A thing many people don’t know about me is that I love me a thermos flask and a long train journey. So you will find me on the vintage trains in between sets getting high on pure steam.
Janey: I’m so excited about Sacred Paws! I’m really excited to feel the warm embrace of the DIY community in the beautiful countryside.
Lucy: We really like the people who run it and had a great time at their event last November. I love Honeyblood. Actually,when Mimi and I played in my first band (Only gig: my kitchen. Place I kept my sticks: cutlery drawer) we played a cover of Biro by them. Maybe we should reincarnate that in honour of the occasion… Mimi??
Mimi: Sweet sweet memories!! The kitchen show was actually one of the best gigs. I’ve never seen Honeyblood before so super excited for them. And then my plan is to just walk and stumble upon whatever I’m destined to.
Which artist would be your dream collaboration & why?
Anya: I’d love to collaborate with Erykah Badu. I’m learning a tonne of jazz shapes on guitar right now just in case. Chillllll.
Janey: Serj Tankian, LEGEND.
Lucy: Princess Nokia. Her new mixtape, A Girl Cried Red, draws on the same influences we are right now. She’s incredible.
Mimi: I’ve always wished I could collaborate with The Melvins or The Dead Kennedy’s. Gonna put it on my vision board. They speak to my soul.
Photo credit: Josien van Oostveen
Words by Ermis Madikopoulos