introducing: dolls

by tim forster

DOLLS: singer/guitarist Jade Ellins and drummer Belinda (Bel) Conde

you’ve been together 2 years. did you have a clear idea of the sort of sound you wanted from the start, or has the DOLLS sound evolved?
jade: When we were first jamming together I was still very much in my ‘blues rock’ stage. So every song was very riff-based, with wailing vocals. I was a bit scared to use more pop-based chords back then as I thought it might sound cheesy. I got into listening to more punk and ‘arty’ bands such as Bikini KillSonic Youth and Ought about a year ago so our sound changed a lot. I realised pop chords weren’t the problem, it was more what you did with them. Now there is hardly a blues riff in sight!

how would you describe your sound now?
bel: I think our sound is a mixture of wanting to ‘get out’ what frustrates us about the current society we live in, with a touch of Jade’s ballsy vocals and my loud drums. We like to make an impact through our music and really reach out to our audience.

what were your early musical influences?
jade: My parents are both musicians so music was always around. Pretty much as soon as I could move they gave me a guitar. Thank God! I loved classic rock bands when I was little as my Dad used to play them all the time in the car, like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I also loved a bit of Britney and Christina though, I still do!

bel: I didn’t come from a musical background at all – I had to fight my mum over the years to get a drum kit! My early influences were serious heavy and nu metal bands, such as Slipknot and SOAD. Hehe…

how does the creative process work: is it collaborateive, or is there one main songwriter?
jade: I generally will have the chords and a basic structure of a song ready before I take it to Bel and our other co-writer, Sam. I find it really difficult to get songs out of jamming and rather have some time to myself first to decide what kind of song it will be. A few songs have formed out of us jamming them on the spot, like ‘Kid Kannibal’, but that is quite rare now. Other times Bel may come up with a drum beat that I find inspiring or Sam may come up with some chords that I want to work with.

you were excellent at LOUD WOMEN fest! is it on stage where you are most at home, or in the studio?
jade: Thank you! Performing on stage is definitely why I do this. It’s actually my favourite thing to do! That’s why I don’t mind us gigging all the time and never understood when other bands would complain about it. The studio is still bit of a weird environment for me, however we have just been recording four songs with Jim Sclavunos (GrindermanNick Cave and The Bad Seeds) which was a brilliant experience. I felt like I needed to go and practise a million hours after working with him as it was so inspiring.

bel: Being onstage is where I feel the most comfortable! I love playing live and I believe that is the best way to put our music across. It’s great to get good feedback from our gigs!

what has your experience been like in the alt rock/punk/DIY scene? is it a better place for women than mainstream culture?

both: The punk DIY scene, where they put on female-fronted bands in particular, has been great. We haven’t experienced any sexism and always feel supported. Which is why these nights exist! The general alt rock punk scene can be very different.

  • “There are a lot of male ‘punk’ bands that still think it’s OK to belittle you, or expect you to be a bit shit as you are a woman.”

Some of these bands have even had female members in. I guess sexism is still more dominant in mainstream culture, but it can happen anywhere.

what bands and writers are you enjoying at the moment?
jade: I’m loving Parquet CourtsHindsAngel OlsenOughtQueen Pj and the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds new album is ace!

bel: I really like King Gizzard & The Lizard WizardThee Oh Sees and when I need to chill out I go for Bowery Electric.

what’s next for DOLLS?
both: We have just recorded four tracks. What will happen to those four tracks is still a bit of a mystery. Hopefully they will become super popular, we will become mega rich, and we will be able to finally afford a roadie so we don’t have to carry our shit around with us on the tube!

Thanks to Tim Forster for letting us use this abridged version of his interview. You can read the full version on his blog here.
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