Pale Waves

“I’m a very driven person and I want to be the best and I won’t stop until I get there, so to have this reaction right at the start of our careers with only a few songs out is ridiculous,” Heather Baron-Gracie tells me over a cup of tea. Sitting in a north London cafe with the frontwoman of Britain’s buzziest band – Pale Waves – when we meet in mid-December, the Manchester-based quartet are currently topping pretty much every list tipping the acts destined to make it big in 2018 following a year that has seen them sky-rocket to fame.

“People are already demanding the album now and it’s scary!” Heather replies when I ask if all the pressure is daunting. “We’re still new and I don’t think people quite understand that. I feel like they put a lot of expectations on us and they see us as this more established band than we are. We are established, but we’re still very new to it and young as a band.”

Originally meeting drummer Ciara Doran at university in Manchester, the pair started making music together around four years ago before recruiting guitarist, Hugo Silvani and bassist, Charlie Wood to join the line-up. “Charlie was already in a band at the time but he was too good and we approached him and said ‘Look we know you’re committed to this band, but we want you in ours!’” Heather laughs. “So then he joined and that’s how we became four!”

Becoming the four-piece you now see, the group caught the attention of record label Dirty Hit in 2016 after their first few demos surfaced, and went on to accompany fellow Dirty Hit signees The 1975 on their North America and Europe tour in June the following year. This friendship (and the two bands’ penchant for making irresistible indie-pop bangers) has led to many comparing the two (especially Heather and Matty), something that Heather alluded to in a tweet in which she proclaimed “not to be the ‘female version’ of anyone.”

“Just because we both have black curly hair doesn’t mean we are the same person!” She jokes. “Obviously that’s just a human reaction to find similar things within what you’re comfortable with, and obviously The 1975 are such a massive band that so many people are comfortable with them, so when people find us and they know we’re associated with them and are friends with them, they pin point us a lot. I think people compare too much these days and they need to stop and just let individuals be themselves. Most articles I read are like ‘listen to this band if you like so and so and then you’ll like them’ but I hate that. Just say what people are like and let them decide. I get why people do it because they find comfort but it’s annoying at the same time.”

An incredible band in their own right, Pale Waves have become a compelling force to be reckoned with. Dropping their latest piece of glimmering goth-pop last night in the form of new track “Heavenly”, their combination of dreamy 80s-influenced pop sounds with Heather’s fiercely relatable lyrics detailing love and loss is undeniably mesmerising. “I guess I write songs because I don’t really want to speak about things because it’s awkward,” she explains. “With my songwriting, it’s only getting more personal and I’m not afraid to say anything now because that’s how I get it out. As long as people relate to it, then it’s worth it. But it’s very scary and intimidating. A lot of people come up to me and they already know what the song’s about, even though I’ve not told them, because they relate to it in the same way I do. So it’s all worth it.”

The identifying nature of Heather’s lyrics has clearly touched a nerve with many, and their gigs are always full – or, more likely, completely sold out – with people singing along to every lyric and professing their love for the band. “People have started getting tattoos!” Heather says incredulously. Known for often tweaking the lyrics to tracks, I ask if she’s seen any tattoos with old lyrics yet. “No not yet,” she laughs. “Thank god! I’m scared there’s going to be. We’ve got a song called ‘You Don’t Love Us Anymore’ that we’ve been playing and I feel like I will probably change that a bit, so I hope no one gets a tattoo. You always have to check with tattoos – I’ve got my own grandad and grandma’s names on me and I know how to spell them but I googled it so much before and even sent it to my mum!”

Having released their fantastic debut EP, “All The Things I Never Said” and with an album in the pipeline for later in the year (get August in your diary, kids), the two records are guaranteed to justify the hype around the rising quartet. “I want people to listen to the album and for it to really help them and for them to relate to it,” Heather explains. “Also to make a moment within their lives that will always be something to them. I want it to stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

And what else does she hope Pale Waves will have achieved by the end of 2018? “I want a number one album, that’s the dream. I just want to watch our band keep growing and I just don’t want to stop. I want more fans, I want more Pale Waves people in my life. I just want to spread as much as I can, everywhere. I just want people to be a part of something.” She pauses, smiling. “I want to make waves.”

Photography - Elliott Morgan

Fashion - Kamran Rajput

Hair - Stefano Mazzoleni

Makeup - Ellie Tobin

Wonderland Magazine