DUM DUM GIRLS SINGER DEE DEE HAS BEEN SPENDING A LOT OF TIME AWAY FROM HOME, WHICH CAN BE PROBLEMATIC WHEN YOU’VE JUST MOVED TO A NEW CITY. A NEWLY MINTED BROOKLYN RESIDENT, FORMER ANGELENO DEE DEE (WHO’S REAL NAME IS KRISTEN GUNDRED) HAS BARELY HAD A CHANCE TO DECORATE HER NEW DIGS THANKS TO TOURING, RECORDING AND VACATIONING WITH HUSBAND BRANDON WELCHEZ (OF THE CROCODILES). BUT SHE’S NOT COMPLAINING, THAT’S FOR DAMN SURE.
DIRTY CAUGHT UP WITH DEE DEE WHILE IN BERLIN, WHERE SHE’S ENJOYING SOME PRECIOUS DOWNTIME BEFORE HITTING THE REHEARSAL STUDIO AND THE ROAD TO PROMOTE “ONLY IN DREAMS,” DUM DUM GIRLS’ SECOND ALBUM DROPPING SEPTEMBER 27—AND THE FIRST FEATURING ALL FOUR GIRLS. IT’S A SNEAK-ATTACK OF AN ALBUM, THE BOISTEROUS, REVERB-DRENCHED GIRL-GROUP ROCK HIDING SOME DEEP POCKETS OF WOE, AS DEE DEE USES HER MUSIC AS A MEANS TO ADDRESS A PARTICULARLY HEAVY YEAR, WITH SEVERAL SONGS (INCLUDING THE SPECTACULARLY WOEFUL “HOLD YOUR HAND”) WRITTEN IN RESPONSE TO HER MOTHER’S PASSING LAST YEAR.
TEXT Ned Ehrbar
DIRTY: HOW ARE YOU DOING?
DEE DEE: I’m well. I’m sitting in the apartment I rented in Berlin, making some tea.
D: WHAT BRINGS YOU TO BERLIN?
DD: Just a bit of a vacation. About a month and a half ago, Dum Dum Girls came over to Finland and Turkey, and I stayed in Berlin because my husband was here with his band rehearsing, and now they’ve just started recording here, so he brought me back for my birthday. I just got here yesterday, so I’m just hanging out, kind of getting in some family and down time before the craziness of the record coming out and touring starts.
D: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
DD: It’s not yet, it’s the sixth. But I appreciate it, thank you.
D: THAT’S MY DAD’S BIRTHDAY, ACTUALLY.
DD: Oh! I wonder if we’re similar personality types. Is he very Virgo?
D: HE’S VERY… TACITURN I THINK IS THE WORD.
DD: Yes. (laughs) That sounds right.
D: WHEN DOES THE TOUR KICK OFF? YOU’RE IN CALIFORNIA AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER.
DD: That’s essentially when it starts. We’ll be in L.A. rehearsing for about the last two weeks of September, and then the tour starts on the 30th in San Diego and goes up the west coast from there, I think, then over and across and ends on the east coast, so we’re essentially eliminating the south and Texas from this run. I hope they’ll forgive us.
D: THE NEW ALBUM’S VERY INTERESTING, BOTH IN SOUND AND SUBJECT MATTER. WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
DD: I think that sort of the dominant theme that comes out in a few different ways is essentially an overwhelming feeling of longing, I would say. Whether it be for someone’s company who’s not there or just a different setting. And why it’s called “Only in Dreams,” I think it’s about sort of the opposition of what you’re going through or what you’re living in and maybe where you’d rather be or where you’ve been. It’s just that sort of great divide from what you have and what you want.
D: DID YOU HAVE ANY RESERVATIONS ABOUT GOING INTO SOPHOMORE ALBUM TERRITORY?
DD: No, I mean I’m always excited to be working on whatever it is we’re working on, and if anything the passage of time and the hours we’ve racked up as a touring band have just sort of created better environments and better opportunities to work in. I guess I’m always a bit cautious to how people react to what I do because I’m maybe a bit more sensitive than I ought to be for this profession, and it’s always sort of an internal struggle to maintain a thick skin. But the curse of the second album is not something I fear.
D: IT’S AN INTERESTING JUXTAPOSITION, DEALING WITH THESE ISSUES OF LOSS AND LONGING BUT WRAPPING THEM IN THIS REALLY FUN, REVERB-DRENCHED SOUND.
DD: Yeah, I mean I’ve always been attracted works that had some sort of tension in it. I think that I can’t help but write what comes out—I can’t help but put it into a pop song. They’re just givens for me. If the material may be darker, the songs are brighter, and vice versa. That’s just sort of the way it’s sort of gone. It’s always something in the back of my head, like if it’s a love song it needs to have some teeth in it somewhere.
D: IS THAT EVER A CONSCIOUS DECISION WHEN YOU’RE WRITING?
DD: No. I mean I don’t really consider much of what I do to be that planned. I just don’t feel like it’s a science project or something. It definitely just kind of sort of seeps in and I just sort of follow blindly.
D: HOW HAS THE BAND’S SOUND EVOLVED FOR THIS ALBUM?
DD: This album really reflects the fact that we played for over a year together and we really have matured to sort of define ourselves as a band versus me having written songs and recorded them, then tried to replicate them sort of in the band format. We’re in a much different spot than we were when we played our first show before our first record came out. We’re a true band at this point. And this was recorded for the most part live—we went back and added some guitar leads—but I’m confident it’s exactly how we sounded in studio, which is pretty close to how I think we sound on stage as well. That for me was important, to try to continue that progression from solo recording to a band, which is pretty daunting.
D: WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU GOTTEN OUT OF TOURING?
DD: Well, it’s probably the strangest lifestyle you could hope for. It really removes you from the reality of most people’s lives, because it’s such a culture shock. I remember the first tour we did, when your day’s just defined by waking up, driving somewhere, soundcheck, playing, parties and sleeping. It’s really, really cool to travel and to see places you’ve never gone, to meet people you never would’ve crossed paths with, to get to play your music to people so far removed from your home life. But when you get home, it’s like, “Wow, what do I do now?” Where do I start going about just being back home? I just get up and start my day. Like I sort of have to make sure I’m doing things with my day because that first week, when you’re home, you’re like, “Wow, maybe I should just watch television in my apartment and sleep all day?” Because your days are not being regulated by plans. I think that it’s just sort of a mind-fuck. And traveling around with your band-mates, it’s a pretty intense bonding experience, and at this point I regard them as family and my best friends. Having just moved to New York coupled with having a month off from tour, I definitely miss them a lot. I feel a great hole.
D: SO HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR DAY ON TRACK WHEN YOU’RE NOT ON TOUR?
DD: It’s usually just a few days when I’m sort of a sloth, but I try to get up early. I really like the morning. Having just moved to Brooklyn, I sometimes have like this big need to take advantage of all the places I can go. But, um, I drink a lot of coffee. I generally have a cup of coffee or I smoke a spliff and then I get moving. I just go walking. It’s kind of my main activity — I really like looking at things. I could be preoccupied in a grocery store for hours if I needed to be. Other than that, I play guitar a lot, kind of exercising my songwriting part of my brain.
D: SOUNDS NICE.
DD: Yeah, it’s great. And it’s important for me to savor it because I know what it’s like to work a shitty job every day or to come home from tour and have to go back to my shitty job. So I am definitely really grateful that I’m just at this point I can come back and do what I still feel like what I do is at least music and art related.
D: DO YOU FIND YOURSELF NEEDING TO WORK TO KEEPING SONGWRITING PART OF YOUR BRAIN IN SHAPE?
DD: No, not really, but it is something where I have to turn it off for a while during the tour. If it’s like a four-week tour, the first week it’s just sort of getting into the groove of things. I’m not thinking about where my ideas are. The second week, the next, I’m still enjoying the tour. The third week I start to get really antsy, I start having ideas that I need to write down because I’m afraid that I might forget them. The fourth week I usually do have to get my own hotel room one night so I can deal with something that’s been gnawing at me for the past couple days. And then I get home and I take a couple days off and then I jump in.
DUM DUM GIRLS — COMING DOWN
DUM DUM GIRLS — BEDROOM EYES