Pale Waves' Heather Baron-Gracie: “I'm trying to make the album as new as I possibly can”
Think of a new band more exciting than Pale Waves. Nope. You can’t.
Published: 9:08 am, June 13, 2018
Think of a new band more exciting than Pale Waves. Nope. You can’t. Seriously, we've tried.
With a bunch of bangers under their belt, they've already been crowned the buzziest new band of 2018 - in our unofficial, in-our-own-heads award ceremony, anyway. The four piece are finally hurling towards a debut album, due to drop later this summer. Because we're nosy like that, we caught up with Heather Baron-Gracie to find out what’s going down.
Hello Heather. We spoke at the very end of last year, and it feels like you just haven’t stopped since.
No, we’ve not. It’s been non-stop for the whole year. It’s been overwhelming at times but the demand’s there so, it’s amazing. We couldn’t ask for a better year so far.
Your live shows have always been great, but it feels like you’ve upped a level recently. What’s changed?
We’ve all got a lot more confident, especially me. That’s where people notice that the most because obviously, the front person is the main entertainer. I’ve watched videos back and thought, fuck, have I actually been that shy? And that scared? And I was.
It took me a while to find myself, and I’ve still got a long way to go, but compare how I was five months ago to how I am now, it’s pretty much night and day. It’s weird how just doing your own shows and gaining that confidence off your fans can improve you as a performer. It reassures you at the same time. I’m starting to find myself a lot more. It’s a gradual thing; I’m slowly getting better and better, or more confident.
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Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett / Dork[/caption]
And the album. Is it done?
It’s not done. It’s in London at the moment, in Wandsworth, asking ‘I thought we were meant to be doing this?’ It’s going well, though. We’re aiming for it to come out in August. We’ve got about six tracks recorded, fully, and obviously, we’ve got way more to record. At the moment, we do have an album tracklist in mind, but I’m writing as much as I can. Then I think it’ll be a last minute thing of this should be on the album, and this shouldn’t be. But it’s going great.
Do you have a vision for it? Can you see what it’s going to be?
I can. I definitely can, but it’s mind-blowing to think that we’re going to have an album out. Us. An album.
You’re part of the Dirty Hit family. Bands like The 1975, Wolf Alice and The Japanese House built worlds with EPs before going for the album. You’re diving straight in.
We’re going to go all the way. It felt like everyone wanted an album so fast, that if we didn’t deliver an album, at this point, then it wouldn’t be the right move for us. Because we already created all this sorta hype, it felt right to release an album so soon. And times are changing. The way people consume music and the way people want music is changing, so it felt like we needed to release the album now.
What can you tell us about the album? We love secrets.
There’s more variation. What people have heard so far has been single after single. We’re not really like that. We love RnB, and I love emotional music and dark emo tracks. This album, it’s got a combination of all of that. I think people are going to listen to this album and understand us. And not expect it. It’s going to be like revealing our true self, that’s what I feel like. I feel like what we’ve released so far is only a part of us and now when we release the album, that’s going to be pretty much all of us on show. This is us; this is how we write, this is what we like. The album obviously has those bangers ‘cos we’re a pop band, but it has some intense, dark moments in there.
Are you excited to share that side of you?
I love that side of things. Everyone in the band jokes about me being this emo because I’m always fighting for the dark tracks and everyone is like, ‘You’re a pop band, come on’, so I can’t wait for people to hear these dark tracks and connect with them.
You just dropped ‘Kiss’. What’s the story behind that song?
‘Kiss’ is one of our older songs. It’s always been a song that’s so great to play live and is always received so well because it’s such a fun song. It’s not too dramatic; it’s quite light-hearted, it’s quite naive. I like how we’re releasing it before the album because you can see how I’ve grown as a songwriter. I wrote ‘Kiss’ when I was 17 or 18; I’m excited for people to hear how I’ve changed. It’s just a really uplifting song, and I’m excited for people to hear it because they’re going to just put it on, on a hot day, or a dark day. It’s just going to make you feel good. It’s basically a drug that makes you feel nice.
Are you trying to release all the old songs and get them out the way before the album?
I never really thought of that, but it seems to be, doesn’t it? We don’t have a lot of old songs that are going on the album. If anything, we only have two so far that people have heard. I’m trying to make the album as new as I possibly can. Nothing frustrates me more than when a band gives you and album and, ‘Okay, I’ve heard ten of those tracks already, and there are three new ones’. I just want to give Pale Waves fans so much more music than they’re expecting. I want them to be overwhelmed with how much more they’ve got to listen to.
It feels like a lot of this album is about toying with people’s expectations?
I think a lot of people, they see us and judge us off our image rather than really just listening to us, looking at what we’ve done or how hard we’ve worked as a band. People see us and think, ‘Who are these fake goths?’ I didn’t know you could be a fake goth. It’s the twenty-first century; you should be able to dress and look how you want.
We’re just trying to really show people who we are, what we’re into and what we like. We’re staying around. This is us. When people chat shit, it just makes me laugh. It doesn’t even get to me anymore. It did at first, because I wasn’t used to it. I wasn’t used to being on show to everyone. When you gain a bit of recognition, you’re seen as this object that people can comment on, they don’t see you as a human, in a way. They comment on your appearance, what you say, what you do, what you create.
I’ve met people that have chatted shit about me, I’ve gone up to them and said ‘Hiya’, and nothing. Nothing at all. We’re just trying to create more of a Pale Waves world, and people like that aren’t welcome.
You’d think with an album in the works you’d be taking it easy this summer and focusing on that. But nope, you’re playing pretty much every festival ever.
We’re literally running around the country playing all these festivals. We’ve been asked to play these festivals, so we’re going to go and do them and be on show to as many people as possible. That’s what you want. When you have something that you create, you want as many people as you can to really step back and listen to it, and hopefully, appreciate it and fall in love with it.
You write pop songs, but they’re these super emotional, personal pop songs. What’s it like playing them to a field of strangers?
It’s quite terrifying; I’m not going to lie. When it’s a Pale Waves crowd, it’s so different because they know the songs. They connect to those songs. They’re in love with those songs, just like me. When they’re singing it back to me, I’m not just on show; they’re on show as well. When I see them, I see them singing their heart out, and it makes me less scared, because I know they’re with me.
Has being on show impacted your songwriting?
It’s influenced me more to write even more honest lyrics. I’m a very passionate person, and I’m very strong with my character. I have to say what I think. I can’t not. I can’t fake it, especially if I’m emotional. You will know if you’ve upset me. You’ll you know if I love you. I can’t hide my emotions at all, and that influences everything I do, especially my writing. I’m so open, and I have to be honest. I just spill everything out my mind, and I don’t even think about everyone hearing it. I just write it, and I’ll deal with the rest later.
What do you want people to take from a Pale Waves live show, because there’s going to be a lot this year?
I want them to have the best time and feel comfortable and feel safe. We don’t look like the normal norm of society. We dress how we like; I’ll say everything that’s on my mind. We don’t really have any restrictions when it comes to ourselves, and that’s what I want people to walk into a Pale Waves show and feel. I want them to feel like they can be themselves.
And the album, who’s it for?
It’s for the fans. It’s for them. And myself, obviously. It’s for the world; I want to leave this world knowing I’ve left it with great music that’ll stay around forever. I’m still writing actually, just before this I was recording some vocals on the bus. This is the crucial moment for the album. After this, I’m going to go back up there, listen to see if it’s good or not, and then start again. That’s how it’s been for the past few months. We’ve got another month of recording the album, and then it’s done. It has to be done.
Taken from the July issue of Dork. Order a copy here. Pale Waves’ debut album is coming very soon indeed.