Pale Waves // Heather Baron-Gracie

Rising U.K. dream-pop/indie-rock newcomers, Pale Waves, will be inside Australian borders next week for their first ever live shows on our shores. The four-piece are a band on the lips of many with their sharp rise through the music world over the past 12 months, all off the back of some wonderfully ear-worming singles like ‘Television Romance’, ‘There’s A Honey’, ‘New Year’s Eve’, and ‘Heavenly’. Before the group’s Aussie maiden-voyage, however, frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie discusses with us their upcoming debut LP (which will be out sooner than you think), expressing herself on-stage & through their music videos, her band’s relationship with their peers in The 1975, & on Pale Waves hopefully not getting compared too much to the likes of The Cure and Joy Division. 

Hey there Heather, Alex Sievers here. How are you going and what are you doing today other than this interview?

Hey! I’m great thank you. I’m on my way down to London to discuss album artwork!

Awesome, very keen for this new record! With the upcoming two Australian shows this July, I feel like they are “expo shows”; a water tester for what Pale Waves can pull out here. Is that the case? Or are these Sydney and Melbourne gigs only limited due to other commitments and scheduling the band has?

Well, we didn’t want to do loads of shows in Australia just yet as we’re still a pretty small band. We just wanted to get our foot in the door with these shows and see what happens!

Fair enough. I think you’ll have a great reception, honestly. While I like the new EP, it’s quite clear that it’s merely a stopgap until the album comes out. And that’s something you guys have more or less admitted to in the past. So, what’s the timeline looking like for the band’s debut LP right now?
It’s finished! The album is fully recorded and mastered. We’re aiming for September to make its appearance to the world.
Ah, rad, can’t wait. So moving on, with the lyrics of ‘New Year’s Eve’, do you know if the person who that song was written about has heard the track in question and what they thought of it? Or am I maybe reading too literal into the lyrics of the song…?

Yes, they have heard the track. They actually think the song is very sweet and true. I guess it’s a compliment when you inspire peoples art!

With your latest single, ‘Kiss’, it’s another indie-pop banger! Yet where does that fit into the timeline of Pale Waves’ new music? Much like ‘The Tide’, is it one of those older songs that has “come back from the dead” or is it another new taste of the record?

Yeah, ‘Kiss’ is a very old song and you can tell that I think. It’s naive like ‘The Tide‘ and ‘Heavenly’ but that’s what makes those tracks great!

In terms of songs, the band’s output has been really quick I’ve found. Does that come from the fact you guys have been sitting these tunes for a while now or in trying to up-keep releases to match the rising popularity of the band? Maybe both?

Ah that’s good! I thought we were going pretty slow, so that makes me happy. Yeah, we do really want to keep the momentum up and not lose any of that! Especially before the album.

On the topic of the video for ‘Heavenly’, it’s a very striking video visually and I think that director Adam Powell really nailed the mood and aesthetic. However, along with the visuals for ‘My Obsession’, it’s the only other music video from Pale Waves to show you as the sole member in the clip. What’s your take on the risk of how people perceive a band’s singer – regardless of gender or sound – as the only personality that a band can have or show?

I think it’s important for the front person to really express themselves at the end of the day. They write the songs therefore they should be allowed to do whatever they want with them. I don’t think people should get so offended when some videos/interviews are just the front person as it’s their stories, they tell their stories through their songs.

The rest of Pale Waves are so encouraging when it’s a video with just myself in it as they understand this is how I have to express myself. And sometimes it would just be so random to have the rest of the band in the videos like ‘My Obsession‘. Can you imagine all four of us naked in the bath with a manikin!?

Good point! With your on-stage performances and through your own body language, when you play live, and this might just be me, but there’s often a kind of awkward quality to it. Though I don’t think that’s a bad thing, my question here is: is that “put on” for the live shows or is that actually just how you perform naturally? How comfortable are you up on stage overall, Heather?

No, it’s not put on I just simply lose myself most of the time. I don’t really feel that awkward on stage at all. People just perceive me as awkward for some reason!

Interesting. Stemming from that last question, despite the rather short life span of Pale Waves, a very big spotlight is on the band. Is that scary or intimidating for you and the other members? Or is it exciting to know that so many people care, or at least, are interested in what you guys have to offer?

It can be overwhelming at times for us because we want to live up to the expectations but I think pressure is good. Well, it is for myself because it encourages me.

One big thing that really helped get the band attention was the connection with Matt Healey from The 1975. Does Matt and that band still have much communication with yourself and Pale Waves? Have they maybe mentored the band as you guys get bigger and more people take notice?

Yeah, we’re close friends! I adore the ’75 as people and as musicians we appreciate all their support and advice that they’ve given us!

Cool to hear. Speaking of The 1975, their new single ‘Give Yourself A Try’ is dividing a lot of people. What’s your take on it? I don’t mind it personally but I do love the lyric, “Like context in a modern debate, I just took it out”.

I think it’s great. I love how it’s so different to their other tracks – they’ve reinvented themselves again!

Lastly, I think a lot of bands who fall into a similar 80s new-wave/post-punk/indie-pop sound to Pale Waves get fed up with comparisons Joy Division or The Cure. But I feel that those comparisons aren’t always a bad thing and are most times accurate too. What’s your perspective on that and how the sound of older artists is paralleled with newer bands such as yourselves?

Yeah, I mean we love the 1980’s era and take great inspiration from it but we also adore modern pop music too, so I think we take a combination of the two. Everyone gets comparisons these days – humanity can’t help it! Although, sometimes I wish people just saw artists for themselves instead of comparing so much.

Pale Waves’ debut Australian tour is hitting us later this month, suss the dates below and nab tickets here

Sydney – Wednesday July 11th

Melbourne – Thursday July 12th

Check out the band’s latest single, ‘Noises’, below. 

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