Though at this point many of us have descended into a cycle of hastily thrown on Zoom call outfits, pyjama pants or joggers worn out of frame, Heather Baron-Gracie logs in looking incredibly put-together in bold pink eyeshadow. This interview is likely one of many for the Pale Waves vocalist today, but she still greets me cheerfully- “Nice to meet ya,”- to talk about Pale Waves’ upcoming album release.
Their second album Who Am I? is set to be released on 12 February 2021. Heather tells me that the Manchester-based band recorded this new album not at home, but in the USA- “It was recorded when the pandemic became the main ‘topic of conversation’ and people started to realise how bad it was. This was around March time last year. I was in LA- but half of the band flew back to England. They didn’t wanna be stuck there, because nobody knew how bad it was gonna get!”
Heather herself, however, stayed in Los Angeles to finish the record; “I love LA, it’s like a second home for me- my girlfriend is from there, so I was happy chilling there. I came back for the album campaign in August. I had all the songs wrote, fully formed and fully shaped, ready to go- so it didn’t affect the writing process at all. For the majority of the time, it was just me and our producer. We were in masks and gloves in the studio!”
The album itself seems to explore a new emotion in every track, each with its own unique sound: atmospheric songs with twangy indie rock guitar, and of course Heather’s strong and synthy vocals ringing through, especially on the singles that have been released already, ‘Easy’ and ‘She’s My Religion’. Which track does Heather personally love the most? “It would have to be ‘Wish You Were Here’- it wasn’t originally actually meant to be on the album, but we realised we had extra studio time! I’m really thankful that it’s on the album because it brings a whole different mood and personality to the album.”
It was produced by the indie label that Pale Waves are signed to, the infamously popular Dirty Hit: “They give me a lot of control creatively, and I can pretty much do what I want.” I ask if there’s any chance of upcoming collaborative tracks with other Dirty Hit-signed artists – “I didn’t feel the need to collab with anyone on this record- there was talk of doing a song with The 1975, but definitely not for this album.”
There’s not much Heather seems to miss about life outside of lockdown- especially not pubs and clubs, like many people. “Being 25, I think you hit a certain age- maybe when I was 22 or 23- when you don’t enjoy going to clubs anymore. You get creepy guys being obsessed over your tattoos- they just randomly grab your arm, it infuriates me!” she confesses. However, she does look back fondly on some things that the pandemic has put a halt to, such as travelling, and the memories that being part of a band like Pale Waves have given her:
“If it wasn’t for this band, I doubt I would’ve been able to see so much of the world, and being able to go to places like Japan, New Zealand – and I don’t even know when I would’ve gone to America if it wasn’t for this band.”
It’s a busy year for Pale Waves, despite current national restrictions – they already have several festival dates confirmed for 2021, and a full headline UK tour yet to be announced. “I think the best part of being in a band is being able to tour, and know that you can go so far away from home, and people are gonna show up- that still amazes me. People still show up for us. I’m like wow, how do you know us?
I can’t even remember all the shows we’ve done- I really enjoyed playing Glastonbury, because it’s the festival in the UK. You sort of know you’ve made it, being on that bill.”
You can find more info and content from Pale Waves’ upcoming album here.
Header image: Pale Waves. Credit: Ian Cheek press.