WE INTERVIEW DOLORES FOREVER AT NEIGHBOURHOOD FESTIVAL, MANCHESTER – WHAT HAPPENED?
Despite ending on a somewhat negative feel this speedy chat amongst the chaos at NBHD Festival was really encouraging and positive – especially in terms of where Dolores Forever is heading as a band. Hannah was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to and the interview, though not intended to be empowering, as such, certainly felt it! We discussed genre, self-care, changes in the band, social media and more – read the full interview below or listen to the RGM podcast episode (also featuring my interview with the Snuts).
Serena: In your Spotify bio it starts off with ‘SONIC GLITTER’… what’s the relevance of that?
Hannah: Well… me and Julia don’t take much of this very seriously. We sort of take it extremely seriously, but then with things like kind of trying to describe your music, it’s hard to. And so, we’ve always just wanted our music to give us a feeling, like a big feeling, whether it’s euphoric, or whether it’s extremely sad. And I suppose that’s more on the euphoric side of things like ‘sonic glitter’. Sometimes certain synths sound like sonic glitter; so, I guess it’s referring to that.
It’s nice to describe your music as a feeling rather than a genre eg bedroom pop, it’s kind of boring no…?
100%. Nobody wants to directly align themselves with a specific genre, because there’s sub genre, upon sub genre, that doesn’t really mean anything. Or people want you to compare yourself to other artists, and that always feels strange and derivative. So, I suppose it was just finding a different descriptor that would, you know… well, we just had to write a few words on the Spotify page haha.
In the Spotify bio, it says how you guys met? Could you relive that story?
Absolutely, yeah, we met at a party – a mutual friend of ours. They literally went right, Hannah, Julia, you two will like each other off you go, and it just was lovely. She wasn’t wrong. You know, she knows us both really well! And so that it was a lovely evening that involved… it involved limbo at one point – drunk limbo at a House Party…
Did you win?
*sign* not… no. I can remember doing a pretty horrific fall. But no, it was just through mutual friends. And it just started a beautiful friendship. And we took a little while before we decided to write any songs together. But we wanted to know each other properly.
I think that’s the best way though. Like, you can’t really collab without knowing each other inside out…
Not at all. And every time we write a song, it’s like that as well. It’s like another sort of getting to know each other, because we’re sort of getting to know what it is we want to write about, the emotions that we’re touching upon. And we’ll just talk for hours and then stumble into a song. And I think that kind of like slow organic…, I don’t know, it’s all very emotional, I suppose. You’ve got to like dig out those emotions before you get cracking.
I think that leads quite nicely, because I was gonna say like, let’s talk about your latest track ‘Funeral’. And I remember, like, you had an Instagram caption, which was like it’s all about toxic friendships and self-obsession. Can you talk a bit more about that, and how it kind of came about and its significance?
So, it’s exactly that – it’s about toxic friendships. It came about because we have a friend that is a frustrating friend. And sometimes it feels like you’re putting more into the pot than you’re getting back. And they can sometimes say things that are really bold and quite hurtful. And we did run away with the story a little bit, because it tapped into this like real narcissistic side of ours, and that kind of made it even more fun for us to explore! You know, like who, who gets to say, who’s gonna come to their funeral? Well, you don’t get to because your dead and there’s a line in the song that’s like, well, what does it matter what kind of dress I’m buried in? But I think we all have a narcissistic streak, enough, obviously, not quite literally, to care what you’re wearing, but to think about what other people think of you. And it just was this really interesting topic that we had a lot of fun delving into.
I think as well, the self-care industry is quite toxic now as well even like the therapy people that you see on TikTok, and they’re like, oh, you shouldn’t care what other people think, but it’s like, it is quite normal to think that, like it’d be ridiculous not to…
Exactly! You can love yourself but also hate yourself sometimes or you know, it’s like, like with so much stuff in society these days, it can be quite polarising, like you have to be all this, or all that?
Yeah, like with toxic positivity you can’t be happy 24/7!
Of course you can’t! All those dimensions are there to be felt and like, you know, as musicians, we’re all pretty sensitive people. So, there’s always going to be a big range of emotions there. And there’s nuance to these kinds of things. So yeah, I think what we enjoy our songs is like pushing some of these things to slightly extreme levels, because it’s kind of fun and an interesting to us.
Would you say that you challenge yourself to go to like extremes?
Yeah, we do! And not all of it makes it into a song. We’ve always said we’re not interested in like little emotions. And like, you know, we want things to either make you feel like bouncing off the ceiling, euphorically happy, like your heart is going to burst out your chest, or like, you’re going to shrink and you want to be swallowed up by the world because something’s so devastating. You know, it’s about those extremes for us – we find big feelings really interesting.
Do you know the band ‘Prima Queen’?
I went to one of their sets at Liverpool Sound City, and some of the songs were so sad like it was literally all of us in the crowd just bawling our eyes out.
I had that recently. My bandmate Ellie, who’s actually standing in for Julia, while she’s on maternity break, recommended a song to me by Julia Jacklin called ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’. And I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to any Julia Jacklin but she’s amazing. But yeah, I listened to that song… that fucked me up. I was on a tray; and there was so many lines in the song that were just so resonant with me. And it’s just beautiful. But that’s why you know, music is there to make you feel something!
I also feel like maybe it’s like the mindset you go into when you listen to a song because sometimes you’ll like skim over a lyric, and then you actually listen to it when you’re in a bit of like depression pit, and then you’re like, “oh my god! this really deep!”…
Totally! Or you have just that moment when something resonates with you. Or sometimes people just get it so perfectly right, that it just properly cuts through? And that’s why we love songs so much.
Jumping back to Julia earlier when I wanted to chat a bit about what’s it like being on tour or playing as a woman in the music industry… What’s your experiences and advice to maybe some, like smaller female bands?
Yeah. I mean we’ve only been playing live as Dolores Forever for a short while. And before that, Julia and I have been mostly in studios writing songs. And across the whole of the music industry, there’s a real gender divide. It’s like, it’s very clearly there; but in terms of live, it is such a historically male world. And we still see festival line-ups that are so incredibly male skewed. But it’s things like it’s down to things like 10 o’clock venue, and I expect the absolutely least, so you know, I don’t expect that to be toilet paper; I don’t expect there to be a mirror; I don’t expect there to be anywhere private to get changed; because actually, often there isn’t, and so you really are just sort of like thinking on your feet and making sure you’ve got everything with you. And to be honest, we’re surrounded by a team, who would not let us face any sh*t from men, or anyone, in venues. So, I feel very protected in that sense. But also, I’m not a kid, I’ve got my radar with sexist bullsh*t and it is very, very high, as many women’s is, because you go through life, being a bit defensive. So, you know, I’m just ready to take on everyone and what anyone wants to try?
Hhah “Try me”!!
So, you said you haven’t been playing for that long live. How long is that?
We did our first gigs earlier this year.
And you’ve already played Glasto, and Reading and Leeds!
I know… it’s been I mean, the project’s been sort of rumbling, we’ve been working on the songs for a long time. So, it was really amazing that we were given those live opportunities quite early on. And it’s just such an incredible learning curve, like, and it’s just an amazing feeling. Yeah, its great to play the songs out of our studios, and to play them to people and see how people react.
Have you got a new EP coming out anytime soon?
So, we’ve got a couple more songs coming this year, and that will formulate our second EP. And then next year onto a bigger and better things!
Hopefully! I think so… if we can write enough songs.
On your last EP, Julia was on a horse… Was there a significance of horse or something?
That was that was from our video for ‘Party In My Mind’, and Julia’s actually quite scared of horses.
Yeah, I’m also terrified of horses, so I was a bit like oh my god!
Yeah, it was a daunting day. And we both had to go on the horse in ridiculous dresses and like, high heel boots and stuff, but we just, we just did it for all that Poptastic amazing imagery. There’s like a history of amazing moments of pop stars on horses. So we were like, well, why not put ourselves in that in that Uber as well?
What are some of the topics and stuff that you want to talk about in your future songs, that you’d like to write, and/or what kind of things do you want to achieve as a band?
We are always evolving in terms of what we want to write about because it’s always about what going on presently. And at the moment, we’re going through such an incredible change in the band with Julia having just had a baby. I mean, is there a bigger change in life?! And then also how that then, you know, affects our friendship, and everything. Like, I think it’s an interesting time. And we’re women of a certain age and like, having children or not having children, those decisions that you make in your life – it seems like everybody has an opinion on them. And I think we’re in a super, super interesting position to be discussing two sides of the coin. And so, there’s lots I want to explore there to be honest. And then aims as a band…? Well, I just can’t wait for Julia to be getting back out on stage with me. And we’ll have a little baby along with us, and it’ll be amazing!
It’s funny as well, because I like, I don’t know, if you’ve seen that Paloma Faith documentary where she was like, I want a separate tour boss, I want to take my child on tour with us. And they were like, well it’s going to come out of your cut; and I just found it so ridiculous to be honest…
Well, ever since we found out that Julia was going to be having a baby, there’s been nothing but support from us and our whole team, because we just vehemently believe that you don’t have to choose, like, why can’t you have a baby and be a pop star as well, and we’re just here. But you know, that’s not to say there’s not going to be certain limitations, but we’ll work with it and I’m proud of it.
It’s one of those things where it’s like, it’s not the end, it’s an adaptable thing.
Totally, we shouldn’t have to choose women shouldn’t have to choose. It shouldn’t curtail their potential as ambitious humans, whether it’s in music or any other career. And I just think the fortunate thing about music is that it is quite flexible. So, we’ll do what we can! And like I say, it’s just something I’m really proud of. There’s no point pretending, yeah, it’s amazing.
And finally, I wanted to ask about your Instagram captions, I feel like this links quite nicely back to the beginning where you’re like, “Oh, we don’t take it too seriously”, because I was looking through some of your Instagram’s, and I was like is this just some like random sentences…?
So they’re mostly lyrics from the songs. I just feel a bit useless at social media. And so, when I’m thinking about what to say, there’s always a balance of putting across your actual personality, and there’s something quite terrifying about that. Whereas if I can hide behind the songs a little bit, I’m much more comfortable there, I don’t want people to know everything about me. I want them to know what I choose to let them know.
Well, you’re in a band, people should know you in that capacity, rather than on a friendship basis…
Yeah! I don’t need people to know what I’m having for breakfast! There’s enough of that on the internet. So, I’m happy to keep the focus on the music we’re making. So that’s, that’s where those silly words come from.
Well, I mean, it’s also like just music nowadays and like TikTok and everything like everyone is just wanting to know everything… it’s like you are having to become content creators to do absolutely anything; it’s just so ridiculous to me
And every single piece of content you put online opens you up to hate, and like we’re not you know, we’re not that deep into the Dolores Forever journey yet so already there’s been some quite funny comments and quite abrasive, unexpectedly abrasive comments; and it makes me think twice before every single post and I don’t think that’s the way to live your life!
Yeah, it blows my mind how those that are much more engaged with social media, how they manage it and how they stay sane.