Heather Baron-Gracie of budding pop band Pale Waves talks to Alice Berkeley about her aspirations and love for Manchester
It has been a big year for Manchester band Pale Waves. After having wiped their Spotify of well-loved demos, they have rereleased two infinitely singable tunes, ‘Television Romance’ and ‘There’s a Honey,’ which now have around four million streams between them.
They have also toured extensively, both in the UK as headliners and in America and Europe with pop giants and mentor band The 1975, picking up many new fans along the way.
When I arrive at Sound Control it becomes clear just how dedicated some of their fans are. I am met by a group of them bundled up outside, despite the fact that the venue does not open for three and a half more hours.
I sit down with Heather Baron-Gracie, the charismatic front woman of the band. Her enthusiasm at being back in Manchester is evident, even with some notes of homesickness in her words. She tells me that all of their “main, major memories of starting the band and meeting each other are from Manchester.”
Her favourite memory? Without hesitation she mentions her “music soul mate” Ciara Doran, the drummer of Pale Waves. Talking about their meeting, just around the corner from Sound Control, she says: “You know that they’re your favourite person and that you’re never going to meet anyone like them again.” They write the songs for Pale Waves together, in fact Heather goes as far as to say that Ciara is the “wizard behind it all.”
Heather also notes that living in Manchester and the North in general – which she describes as somewhere very “grim and mundane” – has influenced the way they write: “you would look out and it would be raining, so you would spend most of the time in your bedroom writing music.”
She cites Prince, The Cranberries and The Cure as some of her influences when it comes to song writing, as well as the “icon” Madonna, who she would love to do a show with. These forces come together to form the basis of her love for “depressing emo lyrics with music that makes you really happy.”
Despite the fact that their just released singles are firmly in the genre of indie-pop, Heather insists that their debut album, which will be released on record label Dirty Hit next year (home to bands such as The 1975 and Wolf Alice), will have some surprises. She tells me that there is quite a lot of “emo stuff, a lot more emotional ballads” and goes on to emphasise that people shouldn’t just assume that they are simply a “banging pop band” simply because of their singles.
Because of their numerous links with The 1975 (Matty Healy directed the music video for Television Romance and recently appeared on the cover of the magazine NME alongside the Pale Waves front woman ), it is difficult to come across an interview in which comparisons haven’t been made.
But Baron-Gracie is her own person with her own tastes, quirks and aspirations. It is clear that she is very determined, the taste of playing iconic venues such as Madison Square Garden with The 1975 particularly inspired her: “it is very motivating to see a band from Manchester with similarities to us be there and be playing shows to that many people.” It is a far cry from the 300-person capacity Sound Control Basement. Yet for her smaller venues are more intimidating as they are so personal; “people can analyse you way more.”
She tells me about her ambitions to sell out more shows and for more people to hear their music and to be “amazed” by it. She mentions her desire to go to Australia (despite her hating flying) as one of the many things on her to-do list (others include more tattoos). One thing is for certain, this is not the last you will hear of Pale Waves.
Pale Waves’ debut album will be released in 2018.