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A press shot of Pale Waves

Pale Waves interview with Tits for Tat

As part of the Women in Media conference we sat down with Heather from Pale Waves to discuss her career, being a woman in music and being a part of the LGBTQ+ community for our Fuse FM show Tits for Tat.

So how did you get started with music and what’s been your favourite moment of your career so far?

I got started with music because my dad plays guitar. Growing up around the house he would always have his guitar out and that made me want to play guitar too. I was in various things when I was growing up – little bands that became nothing – and then I went to Manchester. That’s when I met Ciara and we started the band, then Charlie and Hugo eventually followed.

It’s so hard to define my favourite point in my career, honestly, because there’s too many moments within my career that really shocked me in the best possible way. If I had to just pick one, maybe playing Summer Sonic in Japan, just because it’s such an amazing place. To be able to go so far away from home and see that people have heard of you and like you music is amazing. 

So what would you say your inspirations are for your music, and in particular do you have any favourite female artists that you take inspiration from?

I feel like 80% of my listening is female artists, for some strange reason. Some of my favourites right now are Courtney Love, Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks known as The Chicks now. I love Kacey Musgraves, a popular one right now – her latest album was amazing, it just basically soundtracked the start of the pandemic for me. High Horse is so good! 

“I play the guitar too! And I write the guitar parts, you should also respect me.”

On our show, we play solely female artists, and we haven’t actually played any men yet. But we always ask when we interview women in the music industry if you have experienced any forms of sexism or different treatment because they’re a woman. So have you ever been treated differently than your male band members because you’re a woman? 

Oh yeah, there’s been various occasions. It is exhausting but you just have to be very strong. I feel like I had to prove myself even more sometimes, more at the start of Pale Waves rather than recently because I feel like we’ve established ourselves more – so people have a respect for me. But at the start of Pale Waves, there were so many occasions. Me and Hugo both play guitar – I’m not just a singer, I write most of the guitar parts – so it’s really humorous for me when people try to always go to Hugo when it’s something to do with the guitar.

We’ll be setting up for a festival and people only come up to him if it’s something to do with the amp or the pedal board, even when it’s to do with my stuff! Or we would be in studios at the start of Pale Waves and the producer would be like “Oh hey Hugo, come and look at the guitar rig, come and look at all the guitars we have”. But I play the guitar too! And I write the guitar parts, you should also respect me.

I know that for your first album the main songwriters were you and Ciara, and the second was mostly you – has being a woman impacted your writing at all? What did impact your writing for this album?

I don’t necessarily think writing is to do with my gender, but being a woman impacts you every day. Obviously me and Ciara did write the first record together and the second record was dominated a lot by me. We artistically needed space because we were just going around circles and rewriting the first record, and I just didn’t want to do another 80s record again.

I wanted to write a nineties/ 2000s album – an album that I would love as a kid. The album was always in me, it was just when it was going to come out! There’s a song on there called ‘You Don’t Own Me’. It’s all about being a female and telling people that they can’t own us. You can’t put us into these boxes, they can’t tell us to smile and look pretty constantly. Because I’ve had that so many times, I’m sure you guys have too. “Smile love, you look prettier with a smile” and I just want to punch them in the face! 

“It’s strange being an artist. You never know how much to truly reveal and how much to keep for yourself.”

Another aspect we feel goes underrepresented in the music scene is talking about artists who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. How has this impacted your music?

Of course it does. Going back to the last question, this is just who I am, this is my identity, it’s just me, so of course it’s going to affect my music and it’s going to affect my art and what I want to say in the world. It’s only now on the second record that I’ve really felt comfortable being really open about it.

On the first record we were so new to the music industry and very naive. Yet I think that our naivety worked in our favour for the first record because it’s just fun. Whereas for our second record, I wanted more of my voice to be heard.  I had three years to grow up, travel the world and educate myself a lot more so I could figure out what I wanted to stand for. I was ready to come out into the world and reveal even more of me. It’s strange being an artist. You never know how much to truly reveal and how much to keep for yourself. 

A press shot of Pale Waves - Credite to Niall Lea.
Pale Waves – Credit to Niall Lea

“Sometimes I want to be a bit more punky, sometimes I want to be a bit more feminine.”

Moving away from just chatting about your music, you have a really cool style and we wondered where you get your fashion inspirations from?

I don’t really have a set icon like a lot of people do, I wake up in different moods! Sometimes I want to be a bit more punky, sometimes I want to be a bit more feminine. It just really varies. I love Courtney Love’s style. I think that she’s such an icon in so many ways because she’s such a powerful female voice. She’s so unapologetic and expresses this through her clothes too but there’s no one in particular [that I take inspiration from]. Normally it’s who I’ve been drawn to over the years. That’s created an outrageous fashion as people would put it!

We obviously need to talk about the new album coming out on the 12th February as a follow up to your debut album.  ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, which entered the UK album chart at #8. But what we wanted to ask is how it’s been releasing an album during a pandemic?

It’s not ideal, but it has already been two and a bit years since our last album release. We couldn’t really wait around until the pandemic had just disappeared. We needed to commit to releasing an album during a pandemic and it was just about adapting. I guess that’s what everyone just has to do right now. 

What’s your favourite song on the album? What would you want everyone to listen to first?

This is so difficult, it is like picking from 11 of my children! It changes so often but I think my favourite overall if I had to pick one off the album and listen to it for the rest of my life it would be ‘Wish You Were Here’. It’s not exactly the biggest song on there but there’s just something about that song that sounds really delicate and I think that’s what I like about it.  

Pale Waves have released another single, Easy, which is the third single to be released from their forthcoming second album Who Am I? It’s to be released by Dirty Hit on 12 February. 

Easy was premiered as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World on BBC Radio One.

You can watch the video for Easy here:

Tags: Pale Waves, Tits for Tat, WIM, women in media

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