It seems that everything Dirty Hit takes under its roof turns to gold, quite literally in the case of Wolf Alice recently hitting gold record status with their debut album My Love is Cool. Home to some of the UK’s most promising artists (Wolf Alice, The 1975, Benjamin Francis Leftwich), it’s plain to see the West London label is the one to watch. The most recent band to join their sparkling register is Manchester foursome Pale Waves.
Vocalist/guitarist Heather and drummer Ciara met at Manchester Uni and, a few Facebook messages later, they were set on starting a band together. Fast-forward to 2016 and they’ve teamed up with bassist Charlie and guitarist Hugo, and developed quite a cult following in their hometown Manchester. “They all call Heather ‘queen’ and stuff,” laughs Ciara, “but it’s nice because you see the familiar faces, like a lot of the people we saw last night were at the Deaf Institute show [in December]. We see some funny things though like last night we had someone literally on stage the whole gig, just sitting there.”
This unconditional support for Pale Waves stretches all the way into the studio of The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel, who later reached out to Pale Waves looking to produce their new single ‘There’s A Honey’. “They just messaged us saying like ‘oh you sound really cool’ and they’re producers themselves so they just wanted to make the track as good as it could be.” The 1975 received a bit of online hate accusing them of turning Pale Waves into a female-fronted 1975, but Heather declines that; “they just want the best for us, and it’s really nice to have their skills helping us to achieve what we want to”.
Pale Waves have since taken down all the demos they had up on their Soundcloud. After asking if they were going to rerecord ‘The Tide’, the answer was a resounding ‘No’. “They were just demos, like they were never official releases. We just popped them up online and it was amazing how people reacted to it I mean it was great! But we want to start officially now if you get what I mean.” Their more developed sound and lyrical maturity is evident with the evolution of ‘There’s A Honey’, in which earworm vocal hooks glide over shimmering synths. Ciara reassures day 1 fans that “with ‘Heavenly’, we’re not throwing it in the bin like we’ve made a new version of it. So that’s in the set if you can spot it out. We all like it a lot better now, like lyrically it’s miles better as well. The chorus is still there though and that’s the best bit anyway!” However, it seems that ‘The Tide’ is lost forever; “I don’t think even I have The Tide on my laptop anymore,” says Ciara. “I tried to play it the other day and it just came up with that ‘Locate’ thing, I can’t find it anywhere.”
Bagging a label as renown as Dirty Hit on the back of a few demos plays testimony to Pale Waves’ exceptional and sought-after sound. “It is pretty mad innit” says Heather after reflecting on how they’re now on the same trajectory as huge artists such as The Japanese House and Wolf Alice. “Dirty Hit are constantly spitting out these amazing artists, so to be taken on by them is mindblowing. They’re just an amazing label. Everyone who works there is just so passionate and so nice. They just want to look after us and make something amazing. They work really hard and it feels really special to be part of Dirty Hit. We wouldn’t want to go on another label.”
Quite a surreal summer is in store for Pale Waves, as they’re off on a two-month North American tour with The 1975. “It’ll be like absolutely nothing we’ve ever done before. Hugo’s not even been out of the country for 10 years and now he’s getting thrown onto a plane to America! It still doesn’t seem real. I think it’ll only sink in that it’s actually happening when we’re on the plane”
Yet, excitingly, it’s still only the beginning for Pale Waves. We talk about their ultimate dreams: “We want to have a number one album; that’s the ultimate dream. And to have our own UK tour that’s sold-out, that would be insane. We did a gig in Manchester at Deaf Institute and we sold out that and it was just the best night of our lives- and that was before ‘There’s a Honey’ was released! We just want that every night.”
“Not too much to ask for” chimes in Hugo, “but we’re not going to stop until we are there.
Interview by Meg Firth