From the very beginnings of Dream Nails in the summer of 2015, we identified as witches more than musicians. It was a special summer of sisterhood, feminism and direct action where the power of women and non-binary people coming together in spaces without men felt radical and insurmountable.
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. But it’s not necessarily our queerness or curiosity in herbalism and natural healing that makes us embrace the identity of “witch” – it’s our ability to channel the instinctive, magic energy of womanhood together.
To say that Dream Nails is more than the sum of its parts is an understatement. We are four women with instruments, but there’s something else: the magical, invisible power of combining four women’s anger, joy, trauma and love through the medium of music. Not only that, but using that music to build and hold spaces that welcome all the women in our audiences to bring their rage, joy, pain and emotion, and collectively pool it into a dancing, sweating tidal wave of release. The amount of women who come up to us after shows and thank us is testament to this.
Our rehearsal room is a sacred space. When women come together in spaces to be vulnerable and to make something together, there’s a collective energy that you can almost taste. And we drink it with an unquenchable thirst. It’s thrilling. It bristles with potential and it’s addictive. It’s the liberating rush of knowing you are safe to be yourself, make mistakes, explore and be free from shame, competition and judgment. Maybe that’s the true definition of confidence? What’s more, it gives you a space to produce and create something honest and whole together that you’re proud of; to access this place as a woman is to be reborn.
To scream about rape, the crushing weight of navigating violence and the confusion around coming out is only something that we could do in a safe space. Forget the instruments, this is an act that can only collectively be done with the full spiritual participation and shared vulnerability of people who have lived on the vicious side of patriarchy.
And this is why we term our music “witch punk”. We’re on the periphery of two genres, in our self-defined space: too femme to fit into punk, too raw to be indie pop. Witch punk is as much about the final product as it is the process of creation and the feeling of the live performance – it’s about the shared energy that’s created when we give voice to our collective fears and traumas in safe spaces. It’s also about redefining punk and resisting against the traditional toxic masculinity that is synonymous with the genre. It’s to subvert not only gender norms but genre norms. This is something our second EP, Dare to Care, celebrates.
Two years and two EPs later, we now identify primarily as musicians, but being witches is integral to how and what we create as a band. With every musical release, we create a zine together which involves careful curation, planning and sitting in circles cutting and sticking. We share our thoughts, our advice, our humanity. It’s a thoughtful and introspective process – the flipside to the intuitive and immediate rage that fuels our live shows. But just as essential to our identity.
Our stories are important and our voices need to be heard. If you need release, come together with your sisters and channel the ancient power of witches – it will unravel something within you and bind you together with something that can only be described as supernatural.
Huge thanks to Janey from Dream Nails! You can buy the band’s new Dare To Care EP here.