Dolores Forever are on a constant quest to be brilliant – and with their latest track ‘Good Time All The Time’, they’re certainly managing it. Fizzing with the kind of energy that marks out an act going somewhere fast, they’re about “big songs that belong in big places”. Read the latest cover story for our New Music Friday playlist edit The Cut.
Words: Ali Shutler.
“Our ambition has always been that we wanted Dolores Forever to be excellent,” says Julia Fabrin, one-half of the brilliant indie pop group. The band released the shimmering, euphoric ‘Kilimanjaro’ back in 2021, and every track that’s followed has stuck firmly to that focused mission statement. Out today (Friday 31st March) new song ‘Good Time All The Time’ is another burst of jubilance, tinged with an all-too-relatable weight. It is, as the band promise, excellent.
The “contradictory single” came about after the pair started talking about the pressure everyone seems to be under. After speaking for hours about painful nostalgia, uncomfortable family politics and the unspoken need to constantly present the best version of yourself on social media, the pair landed on ‘Good Time All The Time’. “Everything can quickly feel very performative,” says Julia, before explaining that the song is about “accepting that you can have a bad day, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.”
“Sometimes, shit can just be a bit average,” continues Hannah Wilson.
‘Good Time’s sunny chorus of “It’s always on my mind that we’re all going to die. Doesn’t have to be a good time all of the time” might sound moody written down, but Dolores Forever have a habit of offering uplift. Part of that comes from being in a band with your best friend, but it also helps that “Julia is such a sunshine and rainbows person,” claims Hannah.
“It’s not a good time now, but it could be a good time later,” she grins, right on cue.
Speaking about the shared vision for Dolores Forever, Hannah says the band has been “years in the making”. It started when they met at a house party, introduced via a mutual friend and the pair “vibed straight away.”
“We weren’t looking for this,” Hannah continues. “I’ve been shit scared of performing live forever and completely resisted it.” But with both Hannah and Julia already working as songwriters, they did start toying with the idea of working together, before curiosity got the better of them.
“We had more ideas about what we didn’t want it to be though,” Julia explains. To begin with, the pair would write at each other’s flats on acoustic instruments but didn’t show anyone anything because they didn’t want to be seen as an acoustic duo. “We wanted to define it before anyone else could,” she continues. “That, and we always wanted it to sound stadium.”
“Since then, we’ve been chipping away at our sound,” says Hannah, with the pair enjoying a mutual appreciation for big choruses and nerdy parts of song structures. For obvious reasons, COVID slowed things down “but it also gave us a lot of time to explore and share ideas.”
That exploration is still key to Dolores Forever. Rather than heading into the studio with a clear vision of what they want each track to be, Hannah and Julia start with a nugget of something that excites them, and take it from there. “We’re very persistent,” says Julia. “We just try stuff out until it feels like we’ve cracked it.” They enjoy working in studios with a lot of physical gear because “you have to have that playground for creativity to flourish,” she continues. “Even if it sucks, at least you gave it a go.
“You can always write another song,” adds Hannah. “We’re not precious. Maybe you have to dig past a few shit ones to get to another good one, but that’s alright,” she continues. “I don’t know if there’s anyone else it would be as fun with because we trust each other so much.”
“It would be terribly boring if you just went from point a to point b without any exploration in the middle,” adds Julia.
“We had more ideas about what we didn’t want it to be”Julia Fabrin
With a solid handful of tracks out in the world, Dolores Forever have been compared to the likes of MUNA, Taylor Swift and Maggie Rogers. In the past, they’ve described their own music as “sonic glitter”, and for a while, their bio read “Fleetwood Mac without the husbands.” They’re keen to not align themselves too closely with a particular scene though. “We want it to be more inclusive than any one scene,” explains Julia, who’s got no time for arbitrary rules. “We joked that our debut would be a double album until we realised the cost.”
“We’re constantly making stuff that sort of sounds a little bit different,” adds Hannah, with each track an evolution of what’s come before. “It exists within a world, but not within a line. Nobody wants the same song over and over. We’re just excited about creating, we’re not thinking too much about fitting into a particular box.”
Three months into the year and Dolores Forever have been busy. They’ve already racked their first UK tour via a support slot with Aussie indie rockers Spacey Jane before their own headline show at London’s Omeara. “That felt like a real flag-in-the-ground moment,” says Hannah. “You spend so much time working on these songs and to see them connecting with people, it gave me such an ecstatic feeling.”
“I mean, I’m never going to not want to vomit right before going onstage but once you’re there in front of people, it’s so fun,” adds Julia. “And it should be fun, right?”
Already, those live shows are shaping the future of Dolores Forever who, for the longest time, considered themselves “studio hermits”. Now, they relish the “positive limitations” of needing to be able to play a song live.
“It’s also just made me really dial into passion and shit that feels visceral and important,” continues Hannah. “I’m less interested in writing songs that are light and shallow. It’s always about digging deeper.”
“Because being onstage means you have a platform. It’s not just about sounding good, it’s about saying something to people,” adds Julia, with the pair thinking carefully about the next phase of the band. “People say every song has been written but that’s not really true, is it,” she asks. “Well, maybe every love song has been written but there’s still loads I want to say.”
“Ego kills good shit”Hannah Wilson
“I remember when we were in the studio working on our first song and I turned to Jules and said ‘I think we’ve made my favourite song’,” explains Hannah, getting reflective for a brief moment. “That feeling is what we chase now.”
Since that first track, there’s been a constant buzz around Dolores Forever. Hannah thinks the hype is “an awkward concept to comment on,” but we insist. “Decent songwriting never dies, so maybe it’s good songs,” she suggests. “Also we’re inspired by classic music and current stuff, so perhaps our music is a nice blend of the two…but I don’t know.”
“It’s easy to be surprised by everything but if we put out a song that’s my favourite ever song, of course I’d hope other people would connect with it,” adds Julia before telling herself off for being humble. “Me and Hannah have worked really hard, for a really long time to be good songwriters. That’s an important part of the story. We worked hard, we’re strong women and we’re putting out awesome choruses. These songs also mean something to us, and they tell stories that we could only tell at this point in our lives.”
“I’m excited about it. I’m happy other people are excited too but it’s important we don’t carry that with us,” she adds. “We’re just focused on making more music.”
“Ego kills good shit,” agrees Hannah.
The pair then tease the fact they’re “building towards something” following an EP that’s hopefully coming out this Summer. Speaking of which, the band have already played Glasto and appeared at last year’s Reading & Leeds Festivals but they consider that a trial run for this year. Over the next few months, Dolores Forever will be appearing at Barn On The Farm, Latitude and The Great Escape alongside a highly converted slot on the Dork Stage at Live At Leeds In The Park. “It’s going to be hectic but it would be terrible if it wasn’t,” says Hannah of the coming year.
Promising an” all killer, no filler set,” Hannah believes Dolores Forever’s live show is “just getting stronger and stronger,” especially now they’ve got more than enough songs for a set. “It’s going to be a Dolores of choruses,” she says with a smirk.
Dolores Forever are a band who’ve always said yes to everything. “We joked about stadiums since the start, but that’s more my sense of humour than it is ego,” says Julia who knows they’re still a “long way off” from Wembley. “We definitely didn’t expect some of the things that have happened, to happen so soon but that’s the fun of making music,” she continues. “It’s been an amazing ride and we’re here for it. Throw us all the things that will help this project to grow.”
“Dolores Forever is not a small, insular art project,” Hannah adds. “It’s about big songs that belong in big places.” ■
Dolores Forever’s new track ‘Good Time All The Time’ is out now. Follow Dork’s The Cut Spotify playlist here.