Interview – Pale Waves

Katie chats with Heather Baron-Gracie, lead singer of indie pop group Pale Waves

Originally formed in Manchester in 2014, Pale Waves are an indie pop four-piece band now made up of lead singer and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie, drummer Ciara Doran, guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood. Since releasing their debut single ‘There’s a Honey’, they have moved from strength to strength, releasing their debut album My Mind Makes Noises last month and establishing themselves as a headlining act with an ever-increasing fanbase. Impact caught up with Baron-Gracie before their show at Rock City to find out more about the band’s progress.

Immediately after the release of My Mind Makes Noises on 14th September, the band started a series of acoustic in store shows: “They were really fun! It’s kind of like playing in the front row to all your family, so really intimate. […] I always love hearing the stripped back version of songs because most of those songs were wrote like that so I think the fans really enjoyed it as well.”

Following these gigs, the band launched into their tour. Pale Wave’s show at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire was their biggest headlining gig and Baron-Gracie described the experience: “That was mental, it actually felt bigger with more people in it […] when I looked up it was just balcony after balcony and it’s really mental to think that all those people are there for us.”

They’ve been performing almost every night but had a few days off prior to their Nottingham show: “It’s been so busy; life’s just hectic. [I] got to go home for the first time in a few months which was really nice – saw my dogs.”

The band has performed worldwide so I asked Baron-Gracie if she enjoys the travelling: “I do yeah, I’ve seen so many places of the world so far and I’m only 23. It does get tiring sometimes because you have to do some journeys that are insane and you get no sleep. But other than that, I really enjoy it because I love seeing the world.”

“It’s like being in a relationship with all these people.”

Baron-Gracie explained how international crowds differ: “You can see the cultural difference like, in Europe, it’s a lot tamer than it is here and then America’s really enthusiastic and then Japan’s so different – they’ll applaud and then *silence* (Baron-Gracie gave a great demo) as a sign of respect, they never heckle you or anything.”

The band have been spending so much time travelling together, but this isn’t unusual for Baron-Gracie: “I’ve known Ciara for five years now and when we met, we spent pretty much every day together so I feel like I know Ciara inside out – same with her with me. I know pretty much everything about Hugo and Charlie as well and even our crew members now. You are living together so you wake up with them next to you and go to sleep with them next to you. It’s like being in a relationship with all these people.”

I asked about the dynamic of the group and if they are all very different: “Yeah but we work together. Charlie is the most relaxed person you’ll ever meet, I’m like the dramatic sort of over-the-top loud one but then I can be the quietest one […] some people are terrified of me. And then Ciara’s quite similar to Charlie, very calm, and then Hugo […] he can talk the ear off anyone […] fans think he’s really super quiet but he’s literally the most talkative person you will ever meet so once he gets talking, you can’t stop him. But then he’s really caring. We all are completely different but we all gel together.”

“The songs are emotive and clearly very personal”

With both Pale Waves and The 1975 signed to Dirty Hit and their co-production of ‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’, the two bands are regularly paired together. I asked Baron-Gracie if she found this frustrating: “I did at the start because I felt like we got it all the time […] but now we’ve got our album out people do still compare because we’re a pop band and we have similarities but we don’t get it half as much now, which is good. I think people did it because we only had one song out so they didn’t know what to say about us so they just said that.”

One of the ways the band first came into the public eye was through supporting The 1975 on their world tour. I asked if they saw a lot of the boys: “Well they were really busy but we did a few times backstage and they’re all really genuine and nice Northern guys, really down to earth. It was amazing supporting them on their tour.”

Moving on to discussing My Mind Makes Noises, I asked Baron-Gracie about the title choice and aim for the album: “All fourteen tracks are basically about me and what I’ve been through […] that lyric just sort of felt like it showed what the album was going to be really clearly.”

The songs are emotive and clearly very personal, covering issues such as mental health and body insecurity as well as disjointed relationships. Baron-Gracie explained why: “That’s the kind of music that I connect to, I love music that can really move me and I wanna know that the person who wrote it was sort of in pain whilst writing it. I want them to be as honest as they can.”

I asked about Baron-Gracie’s makeup and appearance for shows and she immediately said: “I need to go and sort my face out because I did this in the car driving here.”. It looked better than anything I could do standing still!

She continued: “I dress like this at home, I dress like this going to the shop, unless I’m on my days off then I literally don’t put on any makeup.”

“I wear whatever I wanna wear and I don’t obey to wearing plain stuff if I don’t feel like it.”

With a long queue already formed outside the venue and some fans dressed like Baron-Gracie, I was interested to know how it felt having doppelgängers: “It is a bit odd but it’s amazing. I think people really feel like they can, not dress up, but be themselves when they come to our show because I wear whatever I wanna wear and I don’t obey to wearing plain stuff if I don’t feel like it.”

Baron-Gracie’s dancing is another part of Pale Waves’ performance I wanted to know more about: “I feel like I can’t control it, I feel like I dance like I’m off my head. I’ve seen more people picking up on that but that’s just how I dance. […] I dance all like this *Baron-Gracie gave an amazing dance demo ending in laughter*”.

“If people could see us behind stage, it would be really funny like Hugo’ll just start barking. It’s quite odd.”

To get an insight into backstage life for the band, I asked Baron-Gracie about her pre-show warm-ups and habits: “[They’re] not that weird to be honest, I have this app on my phone – it’s a piano scale and I just walk around and hum to that. But sometimes we just get each other hyped and scream and stuff. If people could see us behind stage, it would be really funny like Hugo’ll just start barking. It’s quite odd.”

With not very long before the Rock City gig, Baron-Gracie shared her feelings about it and their ties to Nottingham: “Yeah very excited. [We] played here at Dot to Dot; it’s a great venue. Hugo’s girlfriend lives in Nottingham – she’s coming with the fam.”

And finally we spoke about Pale Waves’ future plans and got some exciting news for fans: “Yeah we’re going to America in February to record an EP and then more shows.”

It was a pleasure talking to Baron-Gracie and hearing more about the band’s experiences since supporting The 1975 and releasing their debut album My Mind Makes Noises. They have a lot going for them so watch out for Pale Waves as they complete their UK tour, perform around the world, and get down to releasing even more new music.

Katie Moncur

Featured image and article images courtesy of Pale Waves via instagram.

Image use licence here.

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