Music Interview – Pale Waves

A self-described emo-pop band, Pale Waves have created quite the storm. Signed to Dirty Hit, the band are label mates with some of the biggest upcoming UK bands, including The 1975, Wolf Alice, and The Japanese House, so it’s no surprise Pale Waves are rapidly rising to fame.

They kicked off their very own European tour this October, including a trip to Nottingham on the 17th. Despite their busy schedule, Heather Baron-Gracie, lead singer of Pale Waves, took the time to have a quick chat with me about their tour, Reading Festival, The 1975, and much more.

First up, I ask Heather how she would describe Pale Waves as a band. She honestly admits she finds that question a little tough, but settles for “emo, honest pop.”

“I sang it to Ciara and she was like ‘Oh shit, that is the one!’”

Initially formed at university, Pale Waves was founded by Heather and drummer Ciara Doran. I ask Heather whether she’d ever imaged getting signed to Dirty Hits, working with Matty from The 1975, and releasing her own debut album. She laughs admitting it’s “pretty mad to think that.” She confirms that she knew something was going to happen as her and Ciara hit it off and were incredibly similar.

We talk about the band’s name and where it came from. Heather mentions how she and Ciara were stuck for a name. After a while Heather said she was looking through her grandma’s old art and there was a picture and she “kind of got the name from that”.

Pale Waves’ recent single ‘Television Romance’ has been hugely successful, so I ask if there was a particular type of inspiration behind the song. “All my songs are based off my experiences and I was writing the start of the song and the verses,” Heather tells me. “I just had the idea of television and romance as a separate thing and I then kind of just put it together. I sang it to Ciara and she was like ‘Oh shit, that is the one!’. It just kind of happened.”

“I guess you get pressure from the start because you want everything to be as good”

“It’s really hard to meet really driven, determined, ambitious people these days, but, … a lot of people go to university and … study and get amazing grades, but that wasn’t kind of what it was for me and Ciara” she says. Heather continues saying, for her, university a place to “go full on with our band rather than getting distinctions”.

From getting signed to touring, we talk about how Pale Waves is never far off being compared to The 1975. With Dirt Hit also shouldering other popular bands, like Wolf Alice, does this association to other bands add pressure to Heather as the lead, or the band’s upcoming reputation?

“It’s a difficult one really,” she says. “I see some comments and I’m like ‘oh my god, that’s ridiculous’, but the kind of association we had with [The 1975] was never forced and we never play off it.” She pauses and then continues, “it was  like if Matty and George were some random dudes in London who were amazing at producing and directing. We would work with them because they’re great it was not just because they’re in The 1975.”

It’s clear Heather’s aware of this Pale Waves/The 1975 relationship as she adds to her previous points. “I guess you … get pressure from the start because you want everything to be as good, so it’s not really the other people putting pressure on you it’s yourself. Well, it is for me – I put the pressure on myself the most rather than other people.”

“A lot of people are still going to be hungover in their tents, so we were scared that no one would show up”

With their increasing success, Pale Waves recently got the opportunity to play at Reading and Leeds festival; I ask Heather what it was like to play at such a renowned venue.

She replies without hesitation: “It was awesome!”

It was the band’s first time playing at either venue, and they didn’t know what to expect. “We were on the BBC Introducing stage at 12 o’clock. I was like ‘that’s a bit of a random time’. A lot of people are still going to be hungover in their tents, so we were scared that no one would show up, but we actually had a really great crowd for both festivals. We were all really happy.”

There’s no doubt Pale Waves are determined to make a name for themselves. From Reading and Leeds to announcing they’ll be having their own UK/EU headlining tour, Pale Waves seem to be taking no breaks. With the tour just around the corner, I ask Heather if there any dates she’s looking forward to playing. She names London, hometown Manchester, and Paris.

“We just want it to be amazing, the best it could possibly be”

It’s clear she’s a little anxious with Paris as it’s a free show. “We have no idea how tickets sales are going to do so that’s quite scary. It’s like whoever turns up gets let in and then we are going back to the US our EU tour.” But she quickly adds that the band are “really looking forward to that because we have quite a lot of fans we’ve met while playing with The 1975 coming to out US shows, so I’m really excited to see them again.”

With the interview coming to an end, I have to ask about their highly anticipated full-length album. It seems there’s still no release date, but the band are in the process of writing it.

“I currently have a playlist on my iTunes of all the tracks that could potentially go on. I think we’re aiming for next year, but we don’t have a set date. We just want it to be amazing, the best it could possibly be.”

Will there be a tour after the album’s release? “Oh, yeah!” she says enthusiastically. “We’re going to tour so much out of that album and just  tour, and tour, and tour. I think that’s really important for bands. Bands these days they just kind of rush a lot of things and I don’t think they should do that at all. Let people live with it and grow with you instead of go: ‘here’s a load of stuff!’”

Zoya Raza-Sheikh

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