INTERVIEW: Pale Waves Say All The Things They’ve Never Said
I was always meant to give the world music, nothing else.
We’re sitting in the green room of famous local venue SOMA in San Diego, California. Everything is quiet and peaceful. There are still five hours left for the doors to open and fans are already lining up for the show that is about to come.
Ciara Doran and Hugo Silvani, Pale Waves’ drummer and guitarist, are talking about how they just arrived from Phoenix after playing at the Rebel Lounge.
Heather Baron-Gracie, the band’s lead vocalist comes into the room, style on point, and sits on the couch. Doran and Silvani leave the room to get ready for soundcheck with their bassist, Charlie Wood.
Ever since the release of their single “There’s a Honey” in April 2017 and signing with Dirty Hit, the band has gained the attention of everyone with their heavy influenced eighties-pop music. From opening to The 1975 at Madison Square Garden to festivals like Reading & Leads and now headlining all over the world, Pale Waves is taking over the scene with the release of their debut EP All The Things I’ve Never Said.
“The EP [consists] of current Pale Waves and the start of Pale Waves, like ‘The Tide’ and ‘Heavenly’. We wrote those two songs when we were eighteen, and then ‘My Obsession’ is kind of a bit older than that and then ‘New Year’s Eve’ is kinda really recent so it’s kind of a timeline for Pale Waves,” shares Baron-Gracie. “I had a few different names that I wanted for the EP but I couldn’t really decide […] I kind of like it because my music is how I express myself and I really don’t talk about things. I talk about how I feel through music, so I guess they are all the things I’ve never said to the people I wanted to say them to, but I kind of had now in the songs.”
With each song, we’ve been able to see how much Pale Waves have grown as a band and as time passes their perspective of things also goes through a series of changes. This leads us to their song “Heavenly”, which had only been performed once before Baron-Gracie changed the lines of the song to what it is now. “I felt like we had to do that. Because we were eighteen when we wrote that. We were very naive, but we still kept it to what it is originally. I’ve changed about two lines of ‘The Tide’ and ‘Heavenly’ and everything is pretty much the same. I had to change those lines because I didn’t believe in them enough.”
“I guess you could always work on something for a long time without it being finished, but there comes a point where you know you have to be happy with it. You have to think it’s perfect in your eyes because it could go endlessly like, I could change a song for years, but I guess you just sort of have to think ‘Alright am I going too far with this?'”
On the production side of things, Doran and producer Jon Gilmore worked really close in the studio while working on the EP. “[Jon] and Ciara basically produced it,” says Baron-Gracie. When working on All The Things I’ve Never Said or any other song, the talented duo and heart of Pale Waves, Baron-Gracie and Doran, have a very interesting way of combining ideas and coming up with songs. “Well, I write about how I feel. I write about my experiences. I write about the people that I encounter with and a song can start by lots of different ways. Ciara could have a song finished on a laptop musically and then I would hear that and that would inspire me or I’ll have a song wrote in my acoustic guitar and I bring it to Ciara or I’d be just reading and then a line would pop into my head. It’s really like we don’t have certain methods or ways of writing. Each time is sort of different or random.”
The band’s particular sound has been described in many forms, from emo-pop, synth to a dreamy ‘80s beat. Baron-Gracie’s lyrics, as dark and emotional as they can be, are dressed in these melodies that are reminiscent of The Smiths. These are songs that make us want to dance, but are also meant to stab you in the heart. How they came to make this for themselves is the combination of their different influences.
“[Ciara and I] just listen to a lot of different things and as individuals, we both listen to certain artists that we would never listen to ourselves. She listens to some things that I wouldn’t and then I add to things that she wouldn’t, so I think that is where our sort of unique sound can stand from. We also love the 80’s so I guess we kind of take an influence from that era but then combine it with the modern day twist on pop music. So we have the old and the future.”
We are still trying to find ourselves.
When it comes to being a new band, with the spotlight, there are a lot of high expectations for Pale Waves. “Sometimes [people] forget we are a new band and they sort of see us as a more advanced band, which is a big compliment, but at the same time, we are still trying to find ourselves.”
“Our lives have changed in this past year and a half,” Baron-Gracie admits. With critics flying everywhere and everything running so fast, a lot of obstacles come in your way and adapting to a new lifestyle can get a little crazy. “When I started this band I believed in it so much and I still do now and can see it all happening. I just want it to spread to everyone’s hearts, just like stab them in the heart with emo love songs.”
The band recently played for the first time at South by Southwest this year. With multiple showcases every day and not having a lot of time to sit down, the quartet were received with older crowds from what they’re used to. “It was nice to play in front of new faces, but then it was really busy and quite intense. The atmosphere was great. I’ve never been there before and the festival itself was so busy and exciting.” Being there, in her case, the festival was the perfect opportunity to meet a lot of industry people and to converse with her fans.
We asked Baron-Gracie if she’d always pictured herself going around the world singing her songs. “I always knew I was going to do something with music. I’ve always hoped for achieving what we’ve achieved so far. There’s nothing else I would’ve rather done or could have done, the music,” she said with determination in her eyes. “I was always meant to give the world music, nothing else.”