In Conversation With: Pale Waves’ Heather Baron-Gracie
Mahnoor Imam interviews Pale Waves’ Heather Baron-Gracie.
It’s been an exciting year for Pale Waves, from releasing their second record Who Am I and planning their 2022 tour to currently planning their third record. Although riding the turbulent wave of the pandemic along with other musicians, the band has still managed to evolve their musical quality and instil a sense of magic in their discography.
Heather alludes to the creative writing process behind a track: “Sometimes it starts with a lyric, or a lyric idea or a guitar riff“. It’s a collaborative process where all band members have ample space to offer their own additions whether it’s a drum beat or a song idea. Heather adds that “each song evolves by itself in its own, unique way” as the process behind building a track is never an identical process set in stone. In terms of their upcoming tour, Heather states her slightly nervous attitude about returning to the stage after such an isolated time: “it’ll come back to me!”; she jokes about abandoning the stage in the middle of set out of nerves.
Ultimately it’s the excitement of playing new music for the first time to the fans that Heather is most looking forward to. Heather herself boasts an expansive music taste, recently listening to anything on Spotify from sad, acoustic emo songs or theatre songs from ‘Rent’. Praising its theatrical and dramatic music, the music often contradicts Pale Waves’ signature musical tone, something that is humorously noticeable to Heather.
The third, upcoming record is “heavier and more hard-hitting“. Although the band has an evolutionary sound, they keep their ‘key sound’, a certain ‘magical’ quality that fans draw out. Most often, bands have the potential to change the key quality that fans are drawn to. An authentic quality seeps out of their music, something that Heather is completely in control of through every step of the song production. Self-described control freak, she is involved in every part of the songwriting process. Explaining the process of “needing to have my hands on everything and approve everything” is an illustration of how carefully curated the song production is.
Who Am I is a poignant title for the band’s second record. At the time of writing, Heather was “embracing who she is” and exploring her identity: “Who Am I is all about self-discovery and trying to find that path for myself”. It sums up the personal experience she felt at the time, so much so that it “felt suitable to be the name of the record”. Music is largely about expression, as Heather asserts, and the emotive, light relief felt after fully expressing yourself. It plays as a reminder for Heather to continue on the journey it takes for self-growth and an opportunity to heal ignored traumas through a musical outlet.
Heather holds collaborative projects in high regard, a chance to have a “gauge of what’s good and what’s bad”. In terms of the isolation that artists found themselves bubbled in over the course of the pandemic, Heather describes herself finding comfort in music collaborations. Plans for the band’s future collaborations are still underway as Heather arranges potential artists who can fit in the sound for the third album. The album is hinted at as being “less soft”, heavier in tonal quality and “a lot more on your face”.
Heather cites her favourite musical inspirations from Hey Monday to Paramore and Avril Lavigne who is their dream collaborative artist. Stemming from the pop punk phase nostalgic to early adolescence, Pale Waves’ signature sound is familiar to fans of this genre. It’s notable that Pale Waves brings back a nostalgic 2000s punk sound that fans are drawn to. “People will either like it or not“, Heather states as she encourages the transparent need for full authenticity. “Staying authentic is the best approach“, Heather advises as fans see through inauthenticity due to the lack of a connection with the music.
“Don’t let anyone morph you into something you’re not.”
Pale Waves’ objective is for fans to find their music as a place of comfort and a safe space to search for your identity built on mutual understanding and acknowledgement.
Recently, Pale Waves have released their music video for the latest single ‘You Don’t Own Me’, a track marking the pop-punk revival of the new century. With an appropriate amount of emo eyeliner and outrageously bright red hair, Heather has come to mark her place in the music industry as an homage to the pop-punk music fans listen to.
In the last two years of increased distance between loved ones, the band strives for a bigger connection with their fanbase, from live-streaming their gigs to interacting with fans on social media platforms.
Pale Waves’ Who Am I is out now via Dirty Hit.