Soundsphere’s Emma Murphy asked a few questions of Mimi Jasson, bassist for the awesome Dream Nails, to get thoughts on their activism, album, DIY ethics and much more.
You’ve just released your new track “Payback” a war cry for domestic and sexual abuse survivors. The music video features footage from UK feminist activist group Sisters Uncut. Who are Sisters Uncut and why did you choose to highlight their work specifically?
Janey and Anya met through their involvement in Sisters Uncut back in 2014! Sisters Uncut are an intersectional feminist direct action group of women and nonbinary people who take political action against cuts to domestic and sexual violence services. Sisterhood, solidarity and collective action are essential to our survival, and we hope that this video encourages women and nonbinary people to join each other in political action!
You’ve very recently announced that you will be hiring a sign language interpreter, starting with your London launch show, and then hopefully perusing this more frequently. Please tell us more about your Southbank Centre show, what inspired it and how it was to perform alongside a BSL interpreter.
We had never played with a BSL interpreter before and it is something that we are going to work hard to encourage promoters to provide, as it should be something that all venues are able to offer, like free earplugs, it should just be a given. It is incredibly skilled work and we are absolutely in awe of interpreters! They have to learn the whole set by hand before the show, and be prepared to ad lib when we do, and contribute to the vibe as they essentially are a performer. Having an interpreter on stage really increased the energy of our performance, and knowing that their presence opens up access for the deaf community who are so frequently sidelined by live performances.
According to the charity Attitude is Everything’s 2018 report; over 80% of respondents had experienced problems booking access to lives shows due to their disability. As of current do you have any more plans to promote or actively increase access to your shows for people with all types of disabilities?
As a DIY band we want to do what we can to make our shows as accessible as possible. If you’re a performer or have a space and are looking for consultation, training or workshops, contact Quiplash (@quiplashlondon) who consult on what performers and venues can do to make their spaces more accessible and inclusive.
How do you feel about the phrases “all-female” and “female-fronted”? Do you think that these sorts of phrases reduce artists to their gender and overlook their talent or do you think it’s an effective way to highlight minority groups in a patriarchal industry?
Ideally we wouldn’t need to highlight when bands are ‘all-female’ like that. Ideally all bookers and promoters would be like Primavera, who have had at least 50% womxn artists two years in a row. But right now, talking about gender representation helps highlight the issue that women are still a staggering minority in the music industry. And it helps fans know where they can support women making music. It’s not just bands – only 3% of albums released last year were produced by women. Talking about gender is important, but it’s also vital to prevent the conversation from being too binary. Trans and non-binary musicians are even more overlooked.
So some of you met through your activism and others through Facebook and Gumtree. In a world of creepy-men-on-the-internet what advice would you give to people wanting to start their own feminist, witch punk band?
If you want to start a band, please do it, we are begging you! The world needs more feminist bands, more queer bands, more bands with people of colour. There are too many bands of all men trying to look cool, playing dry music. Life is a buffet, and the music industry is starving for some diversity instead of picking at the same beige platter!! But like anything, it will be hard, and it’s sad that you’ll have to work extra hard – harder than the man bands to get to the same place.
For someone just setting off on their feminist journey what resources would you recommend as the starting point? No boundaries here; think albums, books, blogs, films, zines, websites, the lot!
- Galdem is a super interesting blog that shares the perspectives of women and non-binary people of colour:
- The Craft – an excellent movie about group of outcast teenage girls who start practicing magic. Hard relate
- If you can’t get to an annual Decolonise Fest, an annual DIY punk fest featuring music, art & workshops by punx of colour, then this playlist gives you a flavour https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5sxGyIOEc5SuxWof08PQ9l?si=fthGBHu4T_q8opXTqhEX_A
Revolting Prostitutes – Juno Mac and Molly Smith;
Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
The Will to Change – bell hooks
Feminism is for Everybody – bell hooks;
- Albums: The Slits – Cut; The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill
Your album launch show is happening 10th September, what can those with the pleasure of attending expect and how might this show differ from your other live shows?
Expect to laugh, rage, cry, feel safe and feel seen. We are so excited for our album launch show, we’ve been working so hard on all of these songs, recording them and making our live set a fun and riotous show, with singalongs and squats. If you’re a woman or nonbinary person, we will make sure you have space at the front (if you’d like) and if you’re a man, we welcome you too! But you will be asked to make space, and you’ll make friends at the back and enjoy a sight rarely seen at gigs, women taking up space at the front!
The DIY ethic is something that is so important to you. As a band that is ever-expanding and gaining more and more time-consuming opportunities how will you ensure you keep DIY at the core of your art?
Lol, we are still self managed so on any given day you will find us on the phone to our ethical merch suppliers, organising international travel for our tours (Lucy from Logistics), organising our own video shoots (Janey from Comms) and crafting our own pedal board out of tea trays (Anya from Tech) so we are safely DIY or die! We are lucky to have a team around us now, but there is still so much we do ourselves and we like it that way. People have to be very special to enter the Dream Nails universe – there is a strict vetting system where we show you obscure memes and calculate your rising sign.
You are one of a growing number of bands that have pledged with No Sweat to cease the sale of merch made in unethical conditions. Could you explain to our readers why it’s important as feminists to consider where we purchase our threads?
The roots of International Women’s Day are actually found in working-class and migrant women’s protests against life-threatening conditions in sweatshops. In 1911, within a week of the first International Working Women’s Day, 146 women were killed in a garment factory fire in New York. Feminism is tied to working-class and migrant rights’ struggle through trade unions, and women’s right to fair and decent working conditions. That’s why we work with our main tshirt supplier No Sweat, who work with women’s cooperatives in Bangladesh to produce our beautiful tshirts under fair working conditions. It’s a radical political act of solidarity & feminism. Plus the tshirts are really fucking nice!
You’ve said before that it’s “punk to look after yourself” – describe your perfect evening of self-care. A face mask? A bubble bath? A Ouija board perhaps?
A perfect evening is making a really nice dinner, drinking water (hydration) and getting to bed early to get that restorative fucking rest!
With a new album comes the possibility of a tour. Living in such close proximity of each other and the lack of real down time can prove stressful. How do you stay on top of your mental health while touring?
We respect each others’ needs and alone time. Try to fit in sleep when we can and make sure everyone is well fed. It can be tricky due to timing sometimes during tour. As we can be travelling all day, get to the venue and need to soundcheck, setup merch etc. And all of the sudden it’s almost showtime and we haven’t eaten! So it’s important we are all fed and rested. Each of us has our own tour essentials that provides home comforts.
When are we next due to hex Trump and can we include Boris this time?
We hex Boris Johnson at the end of every show, summoning the power of our witch foremothers to harness all the joyous howling energy of Deep Heat to cast a hex on his dick.
As fellow lovers of bad jokes what are your favourites? I’ll start: there are two wind-turbines in a field. One says to the other “what’s your favourite genre of music?” The other replies: “Well I’m a huge metal fan.”
Here’s one for ya: ‘What’s the difference between a megabus stop and a lobster with a boobjob?’ ………… ‘One is a crusty bus station and the other is a busty crustacean’ – voila!