Pale Waves formed in 2014 when lead singer and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie met drummer Ciara Doran in a liquor store in Manchester. Since then, the 4-piece have been on a whirlwind journey, performing sold out UK and EU tours and becoming a protégé band of The 1975.
Combining indie-pop melodies with eighties-reminiscent synths, the band have had a slew of highly-praised singles and won the NME Under the Radar Award at the NME Awards last year. They were also personally selected by Robert Smith to open for The Cure at British Summer Time in Hyde Park last month!
The quartet’s highly-anticipated debut album My Mind Makes Noises is out now. The album features fourteen tracks, including popular singles ‘There’s a Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’.
We caught up with Heather while the band were in Aus to chat about her influences, song writing processes, and what she loves about the eighties.
Music Feeds: Is it your first time in Australia?
Heather Baron-Gracie: Yep, first ever time here!
MF: What are you keen to see over here?
HBG: Just everything, really, the main touristy sort of things. We’re going to the zoo later to hold a koala bear, so I’m excited about that!
MF: You guys just opened for The Cure, what was that like?
HBG: It was pretty surreal ’cause the cure are one of our favourite bands ever. They’re such an influence of Pale Waves, and being able to open for them is just madness! Like, saying that you’re opening for The Cure… is just a big moment for us, and to be standing in the exact same position on the stage that Robert Smith is gonna be standing in a few hours is mental.
MF: Did you get to meet him?
HBG: No, we didn’t, I was pretty sad! He wasn’t about, and we had to get out as soon as we finished our performance because we had another festival up north later on, so two festivals in one day.
MF: How do you manage to stay centred playing that much?
HBG: I actually just nap whenever I can, pretty much, and it’s really important to keep up the excitement, ’cause you’ve got to give it all into the performance. So like, I think saving yourself for the performance is important because you’ve gotta have that energy, even though sometimes you’re exhausted. Just sort of, napping whenever you can, drinking a lot of sugar.
MF: Your debut album My Mind Makes Noises is out in September, what are your favourite songs from the album?
HBG: Ooh, that’s a hard one! I love ‘Drive’, ‘One More Time’, ‘Karl’. I love ‘Red’. I can’t stop listening to ‘Red’ at the moment. It’s really hard to choose, it’s like choosing from your favourite children. Sometimes it depends like, on different days, but those at the moment are standing out for me.
MF: Did you have any songs that were difficult to write? Either because they were close to your heart or due to writers’ block?
HBG: Yeah, there were a few. ‘Karl’ was hard to write because it’s so real and so honest, but I actually wrote that in a day, in a few hours, and recorded it the next day. It wasn’t hard for me to write, but it was hard to express it. ‘Drive’ was a difficult one, that took me a while, just because I really wanted to get the lyric content and the message across. I really wanted that to be displayed in the way I had in my mind, so I was really sort of, careful with the lyrics – I just wanted them to be perfect.
MF: What’s your process for song writing? Do you do the words or music first?
HBG: It really differs each time. Ciara can come to me with a full piece of music wrote, and then I’ll write the song to it, or it could be the other way around where I wrote a song on my acoustic, and then I’ll bring it to Ciara and we’ll talk about what sort of thing we’re gonna go for and then she’ll sit down and create the music. Then we sort of both come together in the end, and that’s how we work. We’re basically like the perfect duo, like we work so closely together and we’re both so honest with each other that it’s really easy to write music with one another.
MF: Who are you listening to at the moment?
HBG: I’m listening to Morgan Saint. I’m listening to her EP. She’s not that well-known at the moment, I think she’s a new artist. Who else am I listening to… I’m listening to Drake’s new album. But yeah, I’m literally just playing Morgan Saint’s EP, on repeat, I think it’s amazing!
MF: Who are influences that made you want to get into music as a career?
HBG: My dad’s a musician. He doesn’t do it as a full-time job, but he has it as a hobby. That’s the reason why I got into music, because he plays guitar and I grew up watching him play music. He got me guitar lessons, and I spent my childhood staying up quite late with him, writing music, playing other peoples’ songs. He sort of was the inspiration and the reason why I fell in love with music so much, ’cause he introduced me to music and the guitar at such an early stage in my life.
MF: Do you have an earliest musical memory?
HBG: Yeah, I remember the first song I ever learned. It was like this nursery rhyme called… Michael Shooigan or something?
MF: Oh, I know that one – about the wind blowing the beard in and out?
HBG: Yeah, yeah! That’s the first ever song I learnt, strangely. I remember sitting down in my old house and being like “mum, dad, come here, sit down, I learnt my first song!”. I kept messing it up and then I’d restart again, but bless them, they were very encouraging.
MF: You’ve been writing songs since you were quite young then?
HBG: Yeah, super young. I remember writing when I was basically eight years old. I mean, it wasn’t very good [laughs] but it was something. It was words on paper.
MF: This album has some big eighties vibes, what is it about the eighties that you particularly like?
HBG: Me and Kiera grew up with our parents playing a lot of music from the eighties, so it’s sort of engraved into us from such an early stage in our lives that I guess we always gravitate towards that era. I loved twinkly synths and the jangly chorus guitars and I think the music scene was the best that it ever was in the eighties. I think because our parents played so many artists from that era that it’s just what we’ve always known and what we’re comfortable with.
MF: Yeah, I’ve noticed with your music you infuse the eighties vibes with a modern touch, which is nice.
HBG: Yeah! We love eighties music but then we also love modern day pop music, so I like to think that we take a combination of them both.
MF: I think you do a good job of that, I was listening to ‘Eighteen’ before and thought it was cool ’cause it had kind of, modern melodies throughout it, but with an eighties feel.
HBG: Thank you!
MF: What’s your favourite eighties movie?
HBG: Ooh, let me ask Ciara [favourite eighties movie?]. Yeah, Breakfast Club.
MF: Oh, that’s mine too, good choice!
HBG: Yeah, it’s iconic!
MF: What was the process in the studio for making the album?
HBG: We had a period of pretty much a month and a bit, but on the weekends we were flying out doing all sorts of festivals. The process was quite hard, it was quite difficult, but I guess it’s always going to be difficult when you’re making your first record. I’m kind of glad that I’ve experienced it because I know what to expect for the second album. We wrote like half of the tracks in the studio, under the pressure of the album and I think the pressure of everyone waiting on the album really helped us and encouraged us to write tracks. It went pretty smoothly, to be honest, like we didn’t panic and we didn’t run out of time. We got everything done that we needed to.
MF: What do you think is the best way for people to listen to My Mind Makes Noises? I know some albums feel like daytime albums or night-time albums, do you have a particular scene in your head that you think would really set it off?
HBG: Yeah, I’d say listen to the album whilst driving at night, or walking around at night.
Pale Waves’ new album ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ is out now listen to it right here.