By Trent Warner
CALGARY — Right before the clock struck midnight this past New Year’s, Dream Whip had a basement filled with people dancing, laughing, and singing along. The four band members were flanked by two naked men, cocks a-spinning, as the girls rang the New Year in and brought the house down. I can attest to this, because my boyfriend and I were the naked men in question, and we go-go danced for them at several later shows. It was an idea the band came up with the day of — an irreverent reversal of the male gaze that speaks to Dream Whip’s silly, power-punk genius.
Fast-forward a year, and the band has decided to pull the plug. It wasn’t an easy decision: the band has had a brilliant year crowned with achievements. They opened for Shannon and the Clams and La Luz; released their first music video for their song “Hopeless Romantics” in collaboration with Stride Gallery, director James Barry, and local artist Sasha Foster; played a packed show at the gallery with Blü Shorts for the video’s release; played Sled Island shows opening for The Sonics at the Legion and Speedy Ortiz, Built to Spill, and Guided by Voices at Olympic Plaza; summed up their lives in a Metro Calgary feature with the phrase “eating chips in bed,” despite the innumerable “mystical, poetic things they had to say” (Thanks Beth – it’s also a song on the album); and wrote and recorded their self-titled debut album, a lean effort of expertly crafted garage-pop.
Sitting with Dream Whip’s four members over tea, at a home shared by three of its members, we retraced their journey through this whirlwind year, vibed on the intrinsic feminist politics of an all-girl band, and discussed their plans for the future.
“The momentum came from us being like, ‘Can we do this?’ and the reception we got was so positive,” says Alex Judd, vocalist and guitarist.
Influenced by pop-focused girl groups like Dolly Mixture, The Go-Gos, Ex Hex, and even The Shirelles, Dream Whip has a power-pop sound that’s both sticky-sweet and razor-edged. On “Slow Burn” they sing “I’m just taking my time/ No one else’s time/ I will come on back to you,” to a far-reach fling atop thunderous guitar and slashing drums.
Although each of them had played in bands before, they never felt a part of something supportive, safe, and wholly theirs until they came together. Through Dream Whip, they taught and learned alongside one another, starting by appropriating misogynistic punk songs like GG Allin’s “Gimme Some Head,” which they turned into a pop-fueled anthem.
Jessie Giddings, the only non-founding member of the band, wrote her first song and music with the band. She was goofing off on her bass, and Ash encouraged her to play it again. The track, “CRISPR,” will be on their upcoming album, and addresses the need to support survivors of sexual assault. The bassline is immaculate, with a weightiness that complements Alex’s wail: “It’s your word against hers.”
None of this is to imply a lack of experience or musical inability – in our conversation Alex mentions the affirming element of realizing their music “didn’t have to be virtuosic; simple techniques and melodies could still speak to people, make them happy, and sound good. Pop music sounds really good when it’s simple.”
So why break up? It’s not because of the dudes who tried to give them bad advice, ignored them during sound check, or trivialized their success as tokens of the need for a “girl bands” on show lineups. It’s just a side effect that came from exponential growth.
“Initially, our approach to booking shows was to say yes to everything, which can lead to burn out pretty quickly. [There were] times when we played three shows a week, we even played two shows in a day,” says Beth Baines, who does vocals and plays guitar. ”Sometimes, it takes away from the process of actually making music.”
Ashley Pridham, the band’s drummer believes “it ties into why we started. It’s been a great stepping stone, to build the confidence to do other stuff, write more songs, and hone in on our own taste and where we want to go with our music.”
While it’s sad to say goodbye, Dream Whip is not done yet: their album is out via Bandcamp on December 2nd, not long before December’s print edition of BeatRoute hits the stands, and they’ll be playing a final tape release show in the early New Year. Expect to see more from them in the spring, with a new project forming out of a shakeup in the lineup and their sound. The learning never stops.
Dream Whip’s self-titled debut will be available on Bandcamp on December 2nd. Watch out for a cassette release coming soon and a farewell show in the New Year.AB, Alberta, Dream Whip