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February 2021
Cover Story

Introducing the next biggest band on the planet, Pale Waves

They’re signed to the buzziest label and already looked nailed on for the biggest star ages of all. Pale Waves are the real deal.
Published: 11:22 am, December 12, 2017
Introducing the next biggest band on the planet, Pale Waves

They’ve already dropped the biggest bangers of 2017. They’ve teamed up with indie’s greatest talent, Matty Healy. They’re signed to the buzziest label on the planet and already looked nailed on for the biggest star ages of all. Pale Waves are the real deal.

Words: Jamie Muir. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s a quiet autumn afternoon in North London; nestled in the corner of a downstairs restaurant are Heather Baron-Gracie and Ciara Doran. Finishing each other’s sentences, recalling stories from a year that has taken them around the globe and cracking jokes, there’s a bond there that fizzes and radiates through everything Pale Waves do. A shared tapestry that they’ve been painting their future on that is now primed and set to erupt.

“It feels like right now is the time where it’s getting quite intense and exciting,” beams Heather, “like, we’ve hardly seen our families! They totally understand though, but we both like being busy, always doing something and we’re a very hard-working band aren’t we? We strive to be the best!”

“When we weren’t that busy we were always saying, ‘When are we going to get busy?’” continues Ciara.

“Yeah, we were desperate to finally get on with it; we’d just be at home writing and rehearsing and getting ready for the moment it’d all start - but after it did it was like, sweet!” picks up Heather. “It’s been very surreal, 100%. Like I saw the other day this girl in America who’s going to come to like six of our US shows...”

“Think it’s actually 10,” jumps in Ciara.

Heather turns to Ciara with an even bigger smile. “Yeah, that just feels like madness to me, and it means so much that people are willing to truly commit themselves at this early stage. It’s mind-blowing.”

“We were discussing this the other day”, elaborates Ciara. “Would we go to see a band after just two singles? We don’t know! All our fans are so lovely, it feels like a proper family.”

With ambition aimed squarely at the top, their summer of touring is a pretty clear first step in the direction they’re heading down. Building on that tight bond and shared connection with The 1975, it was a natural fit that found Pale Waves snuggling into the shoes they’ve wanted to own since the very beginning, and coming out the other side even more set on their course. “Doing the American tour and then the European tour, it’s really helped us because we were playing every night for ages,” details Heather. “Going on stage and getting our songs recognised and appreciated, that made us a lot more confident in ourselves and what we want to do.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row
[vc_column][vc_single_image image="28757" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" alignment="center
[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For Pale Waves, the biggest stages aren’t just a goal or a dream; they’re a natural home for the ideas and screenings that blister out of every track and every conversation they have together. This is a band not just exciting, but overwhelmingly vital, knowing exactly what they want to achieve.

“We’ve always had a clear vision,” explains Ciara. “Even though it evolves, at this very moment in time we have a totally clear vision of what we want to do, and we’ve always had that. I think that’s a big advantage, a lot of people go through that phase of, ‘Who are we?’ and ‘What are we doing?’ When we met each other, we already had a clear idea individually of who we were, and we’ve kinda evolved together.”

“We’re a very, very ambitious band,” states Heather, queuing nods and agreement from Ciara. “Like, we want to play our music to the biggest crowds possible. We want people listening to us.”

“We want to create a Pale Waves world so that every night is another stop, another tour of our… I don’t know how to describe what we make. Our aesthetic!” continues Ciara.

“Yeah!” agrees Heather. “As soon as you step into that room, you’re entering the world of Pale Waves.”

"pull" text="We’re a very, very ambitious band

For Heather, Ciara, guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood - that world is about to take over. To truly find its epicentre, the spark that ignited it all, the only destination you need is Manchester. The thriving streets and late-night tints of a city with culture running through its veins, it’s been pulling them together from the very beginning. Sometimes meeting other people in your lives can be a luck of the chance encounter, with Heather and Ciara it can only be described as destiny.

For Heather, it was growing up in Preston. For Ciara, it was nearby in Cheshire. For both, there was that feeling of never quite meeting people who truly understood what they were about - a missing half in everything they wanted to be. Both were into music from an early age, by ten they’d each picked up instruments and were enamoured with the sounds they could create. The next step could only be into bright lights, and while on paper they both headed to Manchester for university, the reality was that they were looking for more.

It was an important moment; one Heather recognises completely. “We aren’t small town people at all. We both needed to be around like-minded people. I never went to Uni to get a degree, and neither did you,” notes Heather, taking a sip of her drink as she turns to Ciara next to her. “We went to meet people that were similar to us both. Before I met Ciara, there was no one who was compatible with me.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link="
" align="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Heather spotted Ciara’s profile online before she headed to the city, and since then they’ve been glued to each other’s side. “It’s pretty surreal to think about where we are now and the fact we started off writing songs in your student accommodation,” contemplates Heather.

“The way we got to know each other was to get drunk, stay up to 7am in the morning playing music and just talking,” remembers Ciara. “It’d be random music as well, not even talking about it but talking about each other and our lives. We knew everything about each other really quick - it’s very nostalgic now, thinking back to it. It was a nice time.”

“We’re such similar people,” continues Heather. “Very ambitious and driven. Soulmates.”

They’d both been writing music for a while separately, but after those many hours of bonding and becoming entwined in each other’s lives - writing together was a natural jump. No aims, no labels - it was about feeling good and turning that outer-body connection into something pure and expressive.

“We kinda went with that for a bit, and we’d both decided that we were never going to be in a band because we’d had bad experiences in the past” details, Ciara. “But then things started to become more electric, we met Hugo and Charlie, and it just fit together so well. We just knew right away we had a band there.”

“We really are a family,” notes Heather, “we love each other so much.”

Now as a unit, Pale Waves would spend every waking day (and night) as they do now, working on new music, new ideas, ways they can make themselves even better and spending each hour with one another - like a joined puzzle finally able to dazzle in the brightest way possible. They knew where they wanted to be, stepping out from the crowd and standing apart as something distinctly fresh.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="28756" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]From touches of The Cure at their most carefree and captivating, to a splashing of that 1975 pop charm - Pale Waves have a mixture that can’t be pinned down. It’s daring and bold, yet charming and vulnerable at the same time; four people who made the band they longed for instead of waiting for it to come a-knocking. It’s that which makes them superstars in waiting. “We love a lot of bands, but I’ve never really seen myself in anyone else,” sums up Heather.

With early numbers ‘The Tide’ and ‘Heavenly’ raising eyebrows across the country and beyond, Pale Waves’ musical evolution is one that comes from a band learning their craft, yet knowing their heart from the get-go. It took reaching deep-down to find that extra magic ingredient - and for Heather, it was about allowing herself to pour the raw emotions she was feeling into the songs her and Ciara were forming. It’s a process that was both daunting and undeniably key.

"pull" text="We don’t get distracted by acclaim or fame, we do it for the music

“You were quite shy at the beginning,” notes Ciara, picking up on the frank conversations and knowledge that comes from having someone so close to them in life. “I think nobody could hear what she was saying so nobody could know who she is.”

“Yeah, it was just a load of pointless metaphors at the start really!” opens up Heather. “It was quite scary actually, quite daunting. You meet people now who listen to your music, and they already know so much about you. If you listen to our songs, you find out so much about me, and it’s quite… I’m not a very open person as it is, and that’s why I explain myself with my songs, as I don’t like to talk about things or speak about them otherwise. So I put it all in songs instead, which is a better way for me to handle it. I think people really connect to that.

“The music itself has evolved quite naturally. ‘The Tide’ and ‘Heavenly’ were two of the first songs we ever wrote together, so much has changed since then and so much has happened. We’re both still really proud of them though, and people won’t let them go. Our manager Jamie said, ‘You should see how many emails I get through requesting those two songs’.”

Those two songs ultimately were the trigger. First catching the eye of John Kennedy at XFM, it set off a chain reaction that ultimately led to the front door of Dirty Hit - already open and eager to embrace them within the family it had built up over the years. A case of every element falling into place, it gave Heather, Ciara and Pale Waves the support to take those visions they’d been carrying around with them since the very start, and broadcast them loud and proud into stunning technicolour.

It may be big, but Pale Waves are firmly fixed on the detail. The fizzing kicks and instant swoons that scream off ‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’ already feel like classics, and it comes from a meticulous approach to every aspect of Pale Waves.

“We really love to spend as long as we can on things to make sure they’re perfect,” explains Heather. “That’s why it took so long to release ‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’ because we wanted everything to be as good as the art can be. We’re not one of those bands who’ll just throw out five songs a week; we love everything to be the best it can be.”

“It’s the same as writing music as well,” picks up Ciara, seemingly spotting the train of thought going through Heather’s brain and jumping on board. “We’ll come up with ideas quite quickly and finish a song, and then we’ll spend six months going over every part of it to make it right. Your mindset is so different when you look at it one day, then look at it four weeks later you’ve got a completely different view on it. It might be experience or I dunno; you can do things better as you get older, I guess?”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="28755" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The results speak for themselves. In a year of many albums, from many bands and many moments chucked in the mix too - the true arrival of Pale Waves seems significant. There may well have never been a band to come storming through the gates quite like they have, laying out a guide on who they are and the very feeling they’ll be making thousands experience at a simple drop of a beat. From ‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’ comes the next defining line in the sand, with a debut EP simmering on the horizon packed with a rich and storied look into every facet Pale Waves occupy.

As Ciara explains: “We just want to show people that we do have more, we want to do more than just singles.”

“A lot of the songs we have,” continues Heather, “you wouldn’t expect after hearing ‘TV Romance’ and ‘There’s A Honey’. People judge us from those two songs, but they’re just the singles we have so far - like, we have some severely depressing songs too so I can’t wait for them to hear that. We have got this other side to us.”

Heather and Ciara talk through the many tracks and studio times they’ve had together. Whether it’s one of their favourite songs being on the EP (‘My Obsession’) or the many other tracks they have cooking at the moment (including the swirling chimes of ‘New Year’s Eve’ that wouldn’t go a-miss as the final track in an American college love-story), this feels like a snapshot where the fire is well and truly lit underneath them.

“There was a really odd moment,” remembers Ciara, stopping in the midst of running through all the enthralling things they’ve got coming, “when we had a meeting about the first video for ‘There’s A Honey’ in Dirty Hit, and it was crazy to think actual adults were talking about a video for our band. That feeling of people believing in you, it’s amazing. When you’re taken seriously in what you do - like from where we’re from when you talk about being in a band we get…”

“WHAT’S YOUR ACTUAL JOB THEN?!?” calls in Heather - causing a roar of laughter. It’s that what adds another undeniable element to the Pale Waves mix and what ultimately takes them to another special field. It’s the fact that they’re exactly who we all are - dreamers, itching to find a way to express yourself in a world that can sometimes shadow or try to push you down. Capturing those transcendent moments with an unrelenting honesty yet coated in a glittering spread of dark city nights, it means Pale Waves have the world at their feet - and are unlike anything you can click play on in 2018.

“We’ve always wanted to do this,” beams Heather. “We have each other, and we just love it. You get to go around the world, meet amazing people every night in different cities and play music. What else could you ask for?”

“We’ve got a two-year plan, too!” chimes in Ciara. “We know what we’re doing!”

As Heather and Ciara prepare to head back out into the chilly autumn wind, what’s to come is impossible to limit. There are sold-out headline shows across the UK and America. There’s that sense in the air of something unstoppable coming to life, and for Pale Waves, there’s that sense that the beginning is about to kick-start into the iconic. Here’s a story we’ll all be talking about in years to come - a story of friendship, finding your soulmate and that dream of breaking out of life and to find that home you’ve been searching for.

“We met at such a critical time,” points out Ciara. “We were 18, so we’ve grown into adult life together. We’ve experienced a lot together.”

“We don’t get distracted by acclaim or fame,” states Heather. “We do it for the music and not for like the look of being in a band. We’re just who we are.”

For generations of dreamers looking to find out who they are, Pale Waves are here to introduce themselves. Click play, close your eyes - the rest is here.


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