It was 2017, I was living in Canterbury in my final year at the University of Kent in the U.K. The night life isn’t considered one of the best around, but it was kind of alright for me at that stage of my life, ( if it were any crazier I perhaps wouldn’t have graduated). One Friday or Saturday night I remember dragging some friends along to a punk bar named The Lady Luck, (none of my friends were into punk), nevertheless we soon heard that a feminist punk band would play that night, I was thrilled!
Once Dream Nails got on stage it was clear they were something special. They immediately demanded that women and non-binary people come to the front – I was beyond happy, I thought I’d stepped back in time to Olympia, US at a Bikini Kill show, which was of course I was not alive to experience. Although there are bands that exercise this sensibility, Dream Nails were my first experience.
They brought such a fresh energy, one that screamed independence and joy with a fierce delivery of their politically charged lyrics.
They performed songs from the Dare to Care EP, released in 2017
The band’s witchy vibe really intrigued me. They claim to write hex’s, not songs. In the witchy world, hex’s are magic charms or spells. I like this idea of their songs holding power and effect. One song in particular really struck me; ‘D.I.Y’. It speaks about the culture of creative exploration and self belief that I was brought up with by my mother. She’s an amazingly strong woman who taught me from a very early age that anything is possible, there’s always a way. She taught herself certain skills that she’s passed down to me to do with sewing and crafts as well as household d.i.y jobs that all my friends father’s were doing – but in our house my mum did it all.
When the band performed this song, I just felt so grateful to my mum for instilling this belief system in me from an early age. It’s the reason I am who I am and it’s made me very strong because of it. I don’t give up easily or predict something not working. This song celebrates all of that for me. Enjoy this self-made, fan interaction music video:
After the show I headed straight to the merch stand to have a chat and support them. I got an awesome ‘sriratcha’ badge – a cheeky nod to their first single named, ‘Deep Heat’ which the self proclaimed feminist punk witches released a hex on Donald Trump ahead of the U.S. election in 2016. I also got a t-shirt with their epic EP cover design (Seen above) as well as their zine which was the first physical zine I ever purchased/donated.
Dream Nails early work was put out under the Berlin-based independent punk rock label KROD. Their first self-titled album was released in 2020 with Alcopop! Records. This album perfectly captures the sound of upbeat, hard-hitting punk rock. The production is a lot tighter than their previous work, which is to be expected and a great development. The three part harmonies are just delightful and lead vocalist Janey Starling shines even brighter than before, with her range balancing a controlled head voice and a gut-punching chest voice.
I love the fact that the album begins with a skit called, ‘Affirmations‘ which provides an insight into the self-care approach the band takes as well as amping up the anticipation for the listener, and ends with an absolutely iconic song, ‘Kiss my Fist’. This song perfectly attacks a homophobic contradiction; the tendency to eroticize same sex relationships when it benefits them, but denies these relationships to exist outside their terms in public spaces. The music video gives me Skate Kitchen vibes with the band performing on ramps and shots of badass babes lining the streets, embracing each other and themselves. This captures a beautiful freedom and together with the sentiment that plays the song out, ‘You fear us more than we fear you’ it couldn’t be more empowering.
I love this band, I could go on and on about them but really you should just go check them out and… as soon as you can – (when the world returns back to a semblance of normality that we so desperately need) – go to a live show, nothing beats it!